How haulage firm grew from a milk collection

Sheep shearing, Procters Farm, Wray, circa 1900. From left: Samuel James Bargh (son), George Platts, Isaac Bargh (father).
Sheep shearing, Procters Farm, Wray, circa 1900. From left: Samuel James Bargh (son), George Platts, Isaac Bargh (father).

In the first of two parts, Wray historian David Kenyon writes about the life and times of Samuel Bargh.

Samuel James Bargh was born at Procters Farm in 1882.

Milk collection, Lower Houses Farm, circa 1950s. Ronnie Middleton of Caton is pictured here collecting milk kits from the milk stand at Lower Houses Farm, which was owned by the Johnson family at the time. A slatted timber frame was placed on the top of the first layer of milk kits at the front of the milk wagon to enable more kits to be carried. Milk lorries needed repairs to their floors on a regular basis as they were damaged by the sharp edges of the milk kits. S.J. Bargh used Harry Dodgson's joiners at Hornby for this work.

Milk collection, Lower Houses Farm, circa 1950s. Ronnie Middleton of Caton is pictured here collecting milk kits from the milk stand at Lower Houses Farm, which was owned by the Johnson family at the time. A slatted timber frame was placed on the top of the first layer of milk kits at the front of the milk wagon to enable more kits to be carried. Milk lorries needed repairs to their floors on a regular basis as they were damaged by the sharp edges of the milk kits. S.J. Bargh used Harry Dodgson's joiners at Hornby for this work.

In the early years of the 20th century, farming was going through a difficult time and many young men emigrated from England to Canada. Samuel Bargh was one of these young men.

When Samuel arrived in Canada he found farming worse than at home. 
Having no money he worked his passage home on a cargo boat.

Returning to Wray, Samuel married Jessie Kenyon and took the tenancy of a farm known as The Hill in Lowgill. Then, in 1928, Samuel moved to Rye Close Farm at Claughton in the Lune Valley.

In the 1930s dairies were being built to process milk and Samuel obtained a contract with Libby’s of Milnthorpe to collect milk kits from local farmers for delivery to Libby’s.

S.J. Bargh milk lorry, 1968. Bill Hill, pictured here on the back of the milk lorry, is making the last milk kit collection from High Snab Farm, near Gressingham. All milk collections would subsequently be by milk tanker. By 1968 the number of milk kits was too large to fit on the milk stand and so they were loaded directly onto the milk lorry from the farm's trailer.

S.J. Bargh milk lorry, 1968. Bill Hill, pictured here on the back of the milk lorry, is making the last milk kit collection from High Snab Farm, near Gressingham. All milk collections would subsequently be by milk tanker. By 1968 the number of milk kits was too large to fit on the milk stand and so they were loaded directly onto the milk lorry from the farm's trailer.

Pye Motors of Lancaster supplied the first lorry and payments were to be made out of the profits as the business grew.

The first lorry was a long nosed Commer reg number FTD 8 and the second, a Commer reg number BTB 89 that came from Ball and Kelsalls at Quernmore. The third lorry was a Ford V8 reg number CTJ 417.

The milk kits were collected from milk stands, which were placed at the side of the road. These were the same height as the lorry back to enable easy loading.

The early milk stands were made of wood but were soon replaced by concrete and stone. A guaranteed market for their milk gave Britain’s farmers many years of prosperity after years of struggle.

The company Samuel had founded, S J Bargh Limited, continued to grow and by 1956 the business had five kit wagons plus tankers. In 1957 they purchased the timber garage at Caton from Alan Stephenson and Bernard Bruce.

This was then rebuilt to include workshops, offices and a lorry park.

The business is now two generations on from Samuel James Bargh and it has grown into a major haulage company with 55 wagons and tankers. Even today they still collect milk from local farms.

Samuel James Bargh’s milk collection by motor lorry commenced in 1935-1936. This section of the business grew steadily during the war years.

However, it was after the war ended, in 1945, that the business expanded rapidly. The government provided grants for new shippons or cowsheds and this encouraged farmers to expand their milk production.

The shorthorn breed of cow faded away and was replaced by the Friesian, which gave an increased milk yield.

The post war years can, in many ways, be regarded as the golden years of farming, with a regular income, relatively high prices and a guaranteed market for their produce.

The passage below details a typical journey of an S J Bargh milk kit collection lorry during the early 1950s from its base at Rye Close Farm in Caton to its destination at Libby’s milk processing plant at Milnthorpe.

This journey was made throughout the year, seven days a week. As well as collecting the full milk kits from local farms, empty kits also had to be distributed.

– The first collection on leaving Rye Close Farm in Caton was West End Farm and Low House farm in Claughton. From Claughton the milk kit wagon travelled to Farleton village where collections were made at Hilltop Farm, Brades Farm, Greenbank Farm and Manor Farm.

The next stop on the journey was the milk stand at the top of Barking Gate Lane, Roeburndale West. Barking Gate Farm, Thornbush Farm, Lower Salter Farm and Middle Salter Farm made collective use of the milk stand that was situated here.

The sharing of a single milk stand by a number of nearby farms was common practice at this time, thus saving time for the milk wagon. Each milk kit had a ticket attached, the number of which corresponded with the farm the milk originated from.

The milk lorry then began its descent from the fells of Roeburndale West, proceeding along Moor Road and entering the village of Wray at School Lane.

It turned right on to Wray Main Street at Wray Post Office and General Stores, collecting the milk kits at Home Farm, before crossing Wray Bridge and making its way to Roeburndale East.

The first milk collection in Roeburndale East was at Backsbottom Farm.

The milk wagon then travelled up the relatively sharp incline to Alcock’s Farm and onwards to Outhwaite’s milk stand. Outhwaite Farm, Stauvin farm and Harterbeck Farm shared this stand.

Once all the collections in Roeburndale East had been made, the lorry made the return journey to Wray village, collecting the milk kits from Bridge End Farm.

The lorry then proceeded up the steep hill to the two farms situated at Above Beck, where collections were made at Stephenson’s Farm and the Lewis family farm. Continuing along this route, past Above Beck, collections were made at Smeer Hall, Higher Broadwood Farm and Cragg Hall.

The lane then met the road to Lowgill and it was at these crossroads that the milk stand serving Leyland Farm, Botton Hall and Overhouses Farm was situated.

The milk wagon then travelled along Park House Lane to Park House Farm, High Park House Farm and Lower Houses Farm before returning to the crossroads and travelling to Birks 
Farm, Spens Farm and 
Thimble Hall.

It then travelled along Furnace Ford Road towards the Lowgill road before turning left on to Long Lane, making collections from Ashley’s Farm and Four Score Acres Farm along the way.

Now nearing the end of its journey, the milk kit wagon made collections at Greenside Farm, Oxenforth Green Farm and Eskewbeck Farm before taking a right turn at the Punch Bowl public house in Low Bentham.

It then turned left at the Sundial public house in Low Bentham and picked up at West End Farm, Green Head Farm and Town Head Farm before taking the road to Burton for the last collection at Bracken Hill Farm.

All the collections complete, the lorry then proceeded to Libby’s milk processing factory at Milnthorpe for delivery.

The collection of milk kits by motor lorry came to an end circa 1968; large milk tankers, which could collect from local farms in bulk, superseded the traditional milk kit collection.

S J Bargh Limited was eager to keep up-to-date with this new method of collection and milk tankers bearing the S J Bargh logo can still be seen on the roads today.