The white stuff: how milk floats are ready to deliver again in new ways

“You can get about £450 scrap, which is why a lot of floats got scrapped,” says Hall.

“But first we always check the state of the batteries. There’s no point in throwing them away if they still have two or three good years left.

Milk floats are robust, too. “You rarely see one that’s come off second best in an accident,” says Hall. “But a lot of floats have been run into the ground and most of the old milk float engineers just don’t exist any more.”

But as well as restoring old floats to original condition, Hall has plans to modernise them. “We now have a prototype lithium-ion set [of batteries] that will plug into the existing set-up. As battery technology advances and the cost comes down, we hope that the cost of our set-up will come down as well.”

The improvements are not only in efficiency. The weight saving between the old-fashioned lead-acid batteries and modern lithium-ion is huge.

“We use a 30kW set from a Nissan Leaf. The total weight including the custom-built battery box, charger and management system is 350kg. That replaces the 1,100kg of lead-acid battery. A further advantage is that then you can use the existing electric car charging network,” says Hall.

His workshop is crammed with milk floats in various states of disrepair and refurbishment, but there’s much more besides.

I ask whether Hall sees himself as a collector or as an enthusiast. “My place here has often been described as a vehicle orphanage, I get excited about buying and selling, rather than having a big collection. It’s exciting to see how things get repurposed and how they’re helping people to make a living.

“We live in a throwaway society so with the floats it’s a case of they’re one of the last old-school vehicles, but it’s only because they were built so damn tough that they’re still around.

“There’s something about a milk float that puts a smile on someone’s face. Old police cars less so…”

But for all the nostalgia, there’s a serious side to Hall’s work: he wants to reinvent the milk float for current needs.

“We need to get more floats working. Not just milk, more like a mini version of your high street, like a local shop. Independent small businesses that are under pressure, such as butchers, bakers and florists, they can share a database of people – especially the older generation as there’s a lot more people becoming isolated due to the rise in online shopping. 

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