LEGACY Vauxhall Station Nine Elms Milk Platform -- London, Lambeth, UK
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member Benchmark Blasterz
N 51° 29.150 W 000° 07.375
30U E 699749 N 5707778
Quick Description: From the 1880s to 1978, the specially-designed Nine Elms milk platform at Vauxhall station made for sanitary and efficient unloading of milk from special tanker cars delivering to the nearby United Dairy plant for processing.
Location: London, United Kingdom
Date Posted: 6/29/2016 11:40:43 AM
Waymark Code: WMRJMT
Published By: Groundspeak Regular Member lenron
Views: 4

Long Description:
NOTE: This is a LEGACY waymark. Both the old milk depot and associated United Dairies/Unigate dairy site at 5 Lambeth Road have been razed and redeveloped. Therefore, a personal photo of the exterior of the Vauxhall rail station TAKEN BY YOU will suffice to record a visit.

The historical photos of the Vauxhall station milk platform in operation were taken by Kelven Lane in 1975, and are used here with his gracious and personally-obtained permission. For more photos of the Vauxhall milk platform and milk train operations in England before their complete phase-out, please see his Flikr page: (visit link)

The Dairy associated with the milk platform at Vauxhall has a fragmentary history online. From the April 1982 issue of the GREATER LONDON INDUSTRIAL ARCHAEOLOGY SOCIETY newsletter: (visit link)

"Gazetteer of London Industrial Archaeology: Lambeth Vauxhall and Kennington

Following on from the list of sites in Stockwell and Brixton in the last newsletter (GLIAS Newsletter February 1982), this section is again arranged in a sequence which can be followed on foot. As the total distance would take several hours, it is divided into two halves. Any corrections or extra info, on these or other sites in Lambeth will be gratefully received at 36 Pearman Street, SE1 7RB. Info correct at March 1982. David Thomas

The sequence of site numbering is to fill a gap; numbers 367-392 were used last time.


These sites start at Lambeth Bridge and finish at Vauxhall. Several roads are very busy at all times, but worst during weekday business hours. Although the Thames is very close, little remains of former riverside industries — indeed, much was permanently swept away when the Embankment was built.

. . .

Site 393. Vauxhall Railway Station. Entrance facing towards Pimlico, which was once included in station name; recently renovated. Opened 1848 when London & South Western Railway built viaduct for its passenger services from near the original Nine Elms terminus (now Covent Garden Mkt. to Waterloo).

Site 394. Nine Elms Cold Store (a good vantage point for this and 293 is the footbridge across the s. end Vauxhall Bridge). Public cold store of 1,300,000 cu. ft. capacity, located to be served by railway siding, lighter and road. Opened 1965, closed 1979. Plans made to convert to flats/offices by removing some cladding from concrete frame. (Building described Architect & Building News 16/6/65.).

(Directly in front, as complete contrast, Brunswick House, built 1758, which since 1850s has been used as a railwaymen's social centre).

Site 401. 5 South Lambeth Rd, SE11. Milk bottling plant. A pipeline runs from Platform 1, Vauxhall Stn, for milk train unloading. Built for London Wholesale Dairies, now used by Unigate. Date not known; looks c.1935."

A GALIAS database entry on the same dairy gives a grid reference as well: (visit link)

"Milk bottling plant
Address : 5 South Lambeth Rd, SE11
Grid Reference : TQ 305779"

An overview of the entire British Milk Train history can be found on Wikipedia: (visit link)

"Milk Trains were a common sight on Railways in the United Kingdom from the early 1930s to the late 1960s. Introduced to transport raw milk from creameries to food processing units in remote locations, they were the last railway-based system before the mass-introduction of pasteurization and resultant industry use of road transport.

. . .


. . ..

The Milk Marketing Board was created in 1933, and in 1942 during World War II they took control of all milk transport.

By the late 1960s the MMB had switched entirely to road haulage, and only Express Dairies and Unigate continued to use rail transport. . . .

The SR and later the Southern Region of British Railways ran two regular milk trains from Torrington every day, which served both the United Dairies creamery and bottling plant at Vauxhall, and the Express Dairies creamery at Morden. Filled by road tankers from the Torridge Vale Dairies, the first train of eight wagons left Torrington at 14:47, the second of six at 16:37, split due to the weight of the full Milk Tank Wagons. The first train arrived at Clapham Junction in the evening, and reduced its length by half so that it did not block Vauxhall station while unloading. It would then proceed to Vauxhall, and pull into the "down" side platform, where a discharge pipe was provided to the creamery on the other side of the road. There was also pedestrian access from below the station, under the road to the depot, in the tunnel where the pipeline ran. The unloaded train would then proceed to Waterloo, where it would reverse and return to Clapham Junction to pick up the other half of the train. The procedure was then repeated, so that the entire first milk train was unloaded between the end of evening peak traffic and the start of the following morning. The second train from Torrington would also split at Clapham Junction, but only half of its Milk Tanks would be propelled to Vauxhall, while the other half were dispatched to the Express Dairies depot at Morden. In the late morning, both trains now empty Milk Tanks would be combined into one express train, and returned to Torrington. Milk trains from Torrington stopped in 1978, the last milk train on the former SR. . . ."

Clive Fairchild, member of the Bideford Railway Heritage Centre, wrote a very detailed article on the history and process of the Nine Elms milk operation, which brought milk by rail from Torrington to London Vauxhall Station from 1919 to 1976. The full article (much if which was incorporated in the Wikipedia article) can be found here: (visit link)

"Milk from Torrington

There are many published photos in the days of steam of milk tankers being loaded at the back of the goods shed at Torrington, but what workings were they used on and where did they go?

Firstly, the tanks were not owned by British Railways. They belonged to a variety of owners, such as United Dairies, CWS and Express Dairies. However the underframe invariably belonged to the railway company that built the vehicle, which could have been the SR, GWR or LMS, and examples of all were seen at Torrington. They were also six-wheeled, in order to provide for a smoother ride, and were glass or stainless steel-lined for easier cleaning.

. . . . [redundant with the Wikipedial article]

After the passenger service finished in 1965, the milk traffic became integrated with the ball clay traffic. In 1971 the milk tankers were leaving Torrington at 1635 attached to a train of ball clay wagons. The tankers went forward to Exeter attached to the 1755 passenger train from Barnstaple Junction and the empties arrived back at Torrington at 1217 and 1537 the next day.

In 1976 the milk loading facilities were moved to the up platform where a special structure was built for the purpose. This enabled seven tankers to be loaded at one time as opposed to three in the old goods shed. Considerably less shunting was also involved.

However this structure did not last in use for long because the milk trains ended in 1978, four years before the line closed completely. The last tanker was apparently dispatched to Ilford in that year. The loading structure was dismantled shortly after closure although the track was not lifted until 1985."

The former United Dairies plant served by the Vauxhall milk depot platform was located at the junction of the A202 and the A3606. Today (20160

A short history of United Dairies can be found here: (visit link)

"United Dairies is a former United Kingdom-based creamery, milk bottling and distribution company.

During World War I, there were dire shortages of men, horses and vehicles commandeered to the war effort. This hampered any business which was reliant on the timely distribution of its products, such as a dairy company.

United Dairies was formed in 1917 when Wiltshire United Dairies, Metropolitan and Great Western Dairies, and the Dairy Supply Company merged in an attempt to pool their resources and keep their companies operating until the end of the war. But so successful was the merger under chairman Sir Reginald Butler, that the company began to expand, buying other dairies and creameries across the United Kingdom. . . .

The company was a large user of milk trains, and in agreement with the railway companies supplied its own distinctive coloured milk containers to top the railway companies chassis. . . .

By the early 1950s, United Dairies had become the UK's largest dairy products company. But the company had become inefficient. . . After the 1958 retirement of its long-time rival Cow & Gate's chairman, Bramwell Gates, new C&G chairman Ernest Augustus Taylor began to negotiate a merger between the two companies. The merger was completed in 1959, with the new listed company Unigate emerging.

The dairying side of Unigate's business was sold in 2000 to Dairy Crest."

In 2014, as home-delivery milk and a boom in property values in South London coincided, Dairy Crest sold the Nine Elms milk depot platform at Vauxhall for commercial redevelopment. The sale netted the company a cool £18M: (visit link)

"Dairy Crest property windfall makes up for bad sales of butter and spreads at Country Life owner

Cathedral City and Country Life owner Dairy Crest has announced its first profit upgrade in years - but not from selling more milk or cheese.

The door-step deliverer, which also owns some dairy brands, will make an £18m gain – more than the £8m expected – from the sale of redundant depots used to service its fleet of milk floats.

This will offset disappointing performance from its margarines and butters division, where Dairy Crest (up 8p to 519p) warned on profit.

Hard-up consumers are buying fewer spreads because they are using up every last bit from tubs to make them last longer.

However sales of the four key brands – Cathedral City, Country Life, Clover and FRijj – grew 4 per cent over the past nine months. Dairy Crest chief executive Mark Allen said: ‘Residential milk deliveries have steadily declined over recent years as supermarkets have grown their share of the market.

‘Property profits from the sale of depots, such as London’s Nine Elms, offset the costs associated with this decline.’

Milk float depots situated in valuable city centre locations have become vacant after a change in shopping habits mean most now buy their milk from supermarkets and no longer use a milkman.

The sale of Dairy Crest’s Nine Elms milk depot in the Vauxhall area of South London means profits for the year ending March 31, 2014 will be ‘ahead of expectations’."
Milk platforms condition: Have seen better days

Type: Milk platform by the railroad

Year built: 1880s

Web Link: [Web Link]

Visit Instructions:

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