It is a tradition which looked to have turned sour as consumers shunned the milkman’s daily call, and instead picked up their pints in the nearest supermarket.
But in the latest chapter of an unlikely resurgence, Scotland’s biggest independent milk producer is to start offering customers doorstep deliveries of milk in glass bottles.
Graham’s, the Bridge of Allan-based family dairy, plans to roll back the clock by offering pint bottles of whole and semi skimmed milk.
The initiative is being introduced to mark the company’s 80th birthday celebrations. It stressed it is no mere publicity stunt designed to stir nostalgia, but a response to a growing demand among its customers.
The glass bottles will initially be made available to retail outlet and food customers, but Graham’s said it is also taking enquiries from those customers who want doorstep deliveries.
The dairy’s managing director, Robert Graham, whose grandfather, began the business, said it was clear consumers wanted a choice.
He explained: “Grandpa Graham started the family dairy back in 1939 with 12 cows, all milked by hand and delivered door to door by pony and cart. The ponies knew the round backwards, always stopping at exactly the right house.
“Eighty years and three generations of family later, fresh milk is still collected from our farmers daily across Scotland and lovingly bottled at our dairy in Bridge of Allan, which we still call home today.
“By the mid 1940s the milkboys would be picked up by the pony and cart at 5am to do the milk round with the glass bottles - so we are quite literally looking back to look forward.”
He added that the firm was “always keen to hear and respond” to its customers, and said the demand for glass bottles was not new.
“We have been asked to make our fresh local milk available in glass bottles for a little while now, so it is exciting to see this come to life,” he said.
The glass milk bottle will be introduced in a limited edition 80th anniversary design, before being made widely available in traditional bottles.
The company said the retail sale price of the glass bottles will be 85 pence, with customers required to rinse them out after use and return them to the doorstep.
Back in 1975, in the heyday of the milkman, approximately 94 per cent of the milk consumed in Britain was delivered to doorsteps under the cover of darkness.
The gentle clinking of glass has since all but fallen silent, with the figure now standing at just three per cent nowadays, according to the Dairy UK trade association.
However, there are anecdotal signs at least of a steady recovery. Milk & More, which controls around half of the milk delivery market has said that 90 per cent its new customers last year are ordering milk in glass bottles.
The firm has been so encouraged by the trend that it has spent £6.5m on 200 zero-emission battery powered electric milk floats.
Such innovations are held up as an example of how the use of glass milk bottles can help curb the scourge of plastic waste.
Friends of the Earth points out that while the production of the glass bottles is an energy intensive process, reusable milk bottles are a more energy-efficient choice than disposable plastic.