Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Ghost signs (12): Dairy Outfit Co Ltd


This fading sign on King's Cross Road is a reminder of the days when the area was known for its dairies. The Welsh dairy was a familiar feature of London street corners in the nineteenth century; as the shops later expanded into general groceries, they became the city's corner shops.

However, as long as the dairies sold milk, cheese, butter and eggs - often with their own cows in the yard - they would have depended upon companies like this one. The Dairy Outfit Co Ltd could supply 'all appliances for dairy use'. These included display items, from cream pots to milk pails. After all, who could resist the milk kept in one of their white china pails with 'pure milk' inscribed in blue and a metal lid?

Behind the scenes, equipment such as a butter churn or cream separator would be essential. Eggs for incubation could be safely transported in egg boxes made of wood and lined with felt. The company could even provide milk pail scales for weighing milk by pounds or pints; and in 1921 they patented a device for cleaning railway milk cans.

During the twentieth century the Welsh dairies gradually disappeared, and the Dairy Outfit Co appears to have died with them. However, its sign remains as a reminder of London shopping past.

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