Welsh dairies

J. Evans Dairy a Grade II listed building on the corner of Warren Street and Conway Street.
Built 1793 and tiles circ. 1916 a rare surviving example of a Welsh dairy.

[I]T IS A CUT THROUGH we cabbies once used when wishing to turn into Euston Road from Tottenham Court Road, by turning down Warren Street we once missed the traffic and join the bus lane at Great Portland Street which also had the added advantage if you timed it correctly of enabling you to collect your evening newspaper without the inconvenience of having to stop as the friendly vendor standing on the corner presses the paper into your hand. I have used this cut through numerous times and have always admired this little corner shop with its blue tiles hardly realising how important the shop was once. Unfortunately Camden council had now put pay to this useful detour.

French's Dairy, Rugby Street

French’s Dairy, Rugby Street

Before we had supermarkets which now supply all our provisions, we were served quite adequately by door deliveries and one of the last to survive is the milkman.

From about 1860 onward, as a result of hard times in Wales, many Welshmen, especially from Cardiganshire set up dairy businesses in London.

Cows in the back of the shop

Keeping cows on the premises in the middle of London, many if these dairies were set up in close proximity to the Marylebone/Euston Road which leads directly from Paddington Station, the mainline terminus of the Great Western which serves South Wales (in fact until very recently all early morning trains were still called ‘milk trains’).

Diary Outfit

In King’s Cross Road there is a faded sign of a company that supplied all the paraphernalia needed to produce milk products.

Lloyds Dairy Amwell Street

Lloyds Dairy, Amwell Street

London is home to the oldest and largest Welsh community outside Wales. The middle of the 19th century saw an exodus of Welsh dairymen to London with many setting themselves up as dairies. By 1900 it is estimated half of all dairies in the capital were Welsh.

Even by 1950 there were still over 700 Welsh dairies in the City. The last survivor in Clerkenwell is believed to have closed as recently as 2001.

A version of this post was published by CabbieBlog on 25th May 2012

6 thoughts on “Welsh dairies”

  1. This article reveals that devastating economic times caused such an exodus from Wales. We had a Welsh dairy around the corner in Talbot Rd. And have just finished reading the bit in Norman Balon’s 1991 memoirs about the Express Welsh dairy in Frith Street. Which would see the Pughes family deliver milk to any of the surrounding neighbouring business’s night or day, including his Coach and Horses pub. The Pughes father was an elder in the Welsh Chapel in Charing Cross Road, and Balon remarks what a fantastic place their Welsh farmhouse kitchen in the basement was. Was puzzled reading about the Presbyterian Chapel in CC Rd, now I understand *why* there was a big enough congregation.


    1. There must have been a huge exodus from Wales in the 19th century if the number of comments I receive when writing about Welsh dairies are anything to go by. I think I get more comments on this than any other post. Thanks for your comment.


  2. Before (and during) the time I was on the Knowledge I was the postman for Evans Dairy in Warren Street. It was always closed. I was on that walk for a couple of years and I think I saw it open only twice. Both times the sisters were there, both of them of the Evans clan. They were very aged, this would have been about 1985, but the thing I remember distinctly was the shop – it was a time warp inside. They must have had modern groceries for sale but it really was like stepping back in time on those all too rare occasions.


  3. My Welsh great grandmother, Harriet Evans, ran a dairy at 13, Bowling Green Lane, Clerkenwell. I’ve recently found a flyer for the dairy. I think she must have given up when she was married, she gave birth to my grandmother in March 1902 and moved back to Wales soon after.


    1. Thanks for your comment. I’m amazed how many have contacted me about Welsh dairies. Thinking now of reading this book by Megan Hayes
      Cows, Cobs & Corner Shops – The Story of London’s Welsh Dairies


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