Just around the corner from the British Museum is a building with a very distinctive architecture which usually causes people to stop and stare for a moment, even if only to wonder how a Pizza Express has ended up occupying what is proudly claimed to be an outpost of The Dairy Supply Company Limited.

The Dairy Supply Company

The building – which was built in 1888 – can indirectly be traced back to 1864, when a certain George Barham founded the Express Country Milk Supply Company, which transformed the milk supply industry by bringing milk into the Capital by railway from rural farms, rather than relying on city-dwelling cows.

His timing was fortuitous, as most of London’s bovine supply was cut off by a mass cull of the cows in 1865 due to an outbreak of cattle plague. His business prospered, and by 1885 the “Express Dairy Company Limited” was bringing 30,000 gallons of milk into the capital every night.

He was also an inventor – he invented the milk churn – and set up a separate organisation, The Dairy Supply Company to specialise in selling milk-related hardware.

After his death in 1913, the two companies were handed to his sons, and Colonel Arthur Saxby Barham got the London outpost.

In 1917 three companies, Wiltshire United Dairies, Metropolitan and Great Western Dairies, and The Dairy Supply Company merged in an attempt to cope with distribution problems caused in the London market by the loss of men, vehicles, and horses to the war effort.

In 1959, Cow & Gate and United Dairies merged to form Unigate, but they then sold the milk businesses in 2000 to Dairy Crest. Amazingly, Dairy Crest is now the major competitor to the UK’s other major milk supplier, Express Dairies, the company managed by the other brother from 1913.

So in a roundabout way, two companies founded by George Barham now dominate the supply of milk to the country.

Quite when Unigate ceased to use the building by the British Museum is unclear, but current occupants, Pizza Express certainly took over in 1967. I’ve not been inside, but they are said to have preserved the tiling used the line the walls.

The patented churn

Incidentally, The Shadows bass guitarist, Jet Harris, who died earlier this year, worked at The Dairy Supply Company as an apprentice welder, making milk churns at their Park Royal factory.


Jet Harris obituary

Cream of Bloomsbury

Milk – Dairies and Creameries

Unigate sells its milk operations to Dairy Crest for £220m

Directors Plaque

UPDATE – Please don’t send me emails asking about this article, what I have written is the sum of my knowledge and is mainly about an interesting building, and no, I have no idea if that milk pot you own is worth something.


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  1. Mark Pack says:

    As well as many period features being preserved inside, they have decorated with a strong nod towards the building’s past, including a silhouette milkman on the wall of the men’s toilets and light fittings which look like they have been made out of lots of old glass milk bottles. (See photo at http://www.markpack.org.uk/23305/pizza-express-coptic-street/)

  2. William Dudley says:

    My father worked for Dairy Supply, just after the last War. I have a catalog Which might be of interest

    • Dave Ellison says:

      A long time since your posting but I have only just found this interesting site.
      If you still have this catalogue I shall be really grateful if you can contact me by email. I am researching into the manufacture, supply and distribution of old ceramic dairy cream jars and your catalogue could well include valuable information.

    • Marie Pollard says:

      I’ve just read your reply after I googled this company,I have just been given a Clotted cream jug by a member of my family.I live in Derbyshire and the jug relates to my area,my grandfather was a farmer, just a mile from where I live now .I am interested in finding out more about this cream jar.

    • Bruce Clydsdale says:

      I am trying to find out more about United Dairies which was the outcome of various amalgamations. I am particularly interested in one of the Directors, John Hopkins.

    • Marie Lester says:

      Yes please! Thank you so much for the suggestion! How could you send it? Could you scan, photocopy?
      Many thanks.

  3. Kevin Davies says:

    I have a small enamel sign aprox 18 inch by 2 inch saying dairy supply co limited London w.c just wondered if you knew anyone who might be interested in buying it .

    Kevin Davies

  4. Helen White says:

    My granddad Joseph Stockwell worked for Dairy Supply, and his apprentice was Jet Harris!

  5. Brian Hobbs says:

    I also worked at Dairy supply in Park Royal London NWI0 from 1958 to 1964, also remember Joe Stockwell. I have been aware of the Museum Street offices from those early days, retained as the Registered Office and very much of architectural interest. My engineering career took shape alongside Jet Harris as an apprentice trainee working my way through to the Drawing Office. Innovation seemed to be the order of the day – the “Silent Revolution” where noisy milk bottle deliveries in metal crates were replaced by the first UK plastic crate, plus DESCO (trade name) also led the field and development of bulk farm tanks.

    • Tony Hall says:

      Hi Brian I worked at United Dairies at Park Royal and remember playing table tennis against you

  6. Doreen Watson says:

    I have a cast iron plaque about 8 inches x 6 inches.which I think may have once been attached to a churn.The inscription reads:-
    “Champion Churn”
    used by the
    Champion Churn
    Buttermakers of England and Scotland

    Dairy Supply Co Ld
    London, Edinburgh and Cork

    Is it of any value and who would be interested in buying it?

  7. pete smith says:

    Doreen – I’d be interested in your plaque

    Pete Smith

    • Mike says:

      Hi Pete , how much would you be prepared to pay for one of these plaques? I have one if interested

  8. Juliet says:

    I have a cream jug originally from the dairy supply company marked on the base of the jug. The sides of jug have swiss cottage dairy written on them. Any info greatly appreciated

  9. Ken Evans says:

    I have a letter that I was going to put on ebay, but then I found this site.

    Letter from Express Dairy Company Limited, 20-30 Tavistock Place, London WC1. Dated April 1923.

    Explains to a potential customer that they now have installed the latest American bottling and pasteurising equipment, and that they will be only to pleased to instruct their representative to wait upon them.

    Signed by GH Watts, Company Sec

    Must be of interest to someone who might be reading this site.

  10. Steph S says:

    We have two artefacts made possibly of pewter with the name ‘The Britannia Can’ on the top and ‘Dairy Supply Co Ltd Museum St’ stamped on the side. They have a handle on the top and a sort of clip on the back and would hold about half a pint of liquid. Does anyone have any idea what they might be please?

  11. Richard Lovejoy says:

    We at ReelStreets.com endeavour to find locations used in commercially distributed films with a view to providing a NOW shot of that same location. This can, of course, sometimes be particularly interesting in terms of historic record, not least because it provides a moving image rather than a photographic record. In the film “Look Up and Laugh” made in 1935 Gracie Fields runs into two men painting white lines in the road and in the back of the scene is a factory of the Dairy Supply Co Ltd. This appears on our website as picture loupla002. I am wondering if any of you know the location where this may have been filmed. Whilst you all talk of Park Royal, was this Park Royal or maybe, according to the 1935 telephone book New Road (now Thessaly Road, London SW8 London. It would be great if someone could help with this.

    • Roger Cox says:

      Dear Richard ,
      My grandfather , Ernest Moggridge worked for Dairy Supply in Cumberland Avenue , Park Royal and I do wonder whether loupla002 shows part of this factory . I believe my grandfather was on the site security side and lived in a tied house almost oppsite . I`,m not sure of the dates but Guinness Brewery was at the top end of Cumberland and I can recall as a child the many pitched roof buildings along the road . Park Royal vehicles was nearby . Nowadays Diageo is at the top .
      My present interest in this road is to locate a picture of the house my grandparents lived in from about 1935 through to 1975 . It has since been demolished to make more factory space .
      If you or anyone else has any more information to share I would be pleased to receive it .
      Kind regards
      Roger Cox

  12. Frank says:

    If this chain is still active or if once posted, anyone has interest….. I found a large ceramic piece labeled Dairy Supply Co Limited Museum St London and on the front of the piece it reads in large letters Pure Butter. I have no idea if its of value or if anyone would like to purchase it. Please contact me if so. Thank you!

  13. Janet Lomas says:

    I several big ceramic pans for letting the cream rise, for butter making, and a tall bowl, all marked Dairy Supply Company Limited, Museum Street, London in big black letter. Is anyone interested in buying them.

  14. Darren Moore says:

    Hi, I have a large metal, what seems to be a Churn top, it has LONDON VICTORIA CHURN DAIRY SUPPLY CO, in raised 1″ sized CAP Letters around the edge a 1&1/2″ size hole in the centre of it, does anyone know about these items.

  15. george steven reid says:

    I have received a wooden butter churn from a member of my family made by Dairy supply company and has plaque on with the words champion churn used by champion butter makers in england & scotland dairy supply co ltd london edinburgh & cork i have no idea of valuation so any advice on where to get this done

  16. Suzanne Cannings says:

    Hi I have a glass milk bottle probably half pint size says on it side H CRADDOCK DAIRY SPECIALISTS WEST EALING and on the bottom DAIRY SUPPLY LONDON also “HYGEIA” and a capital R within a circle plus the number 353 …anyone interested and or know how old this is?

    • D Chadha says:

      HI Suzanne, I used to work for Frank Craddock who was the owner of H Craddock Dairies in Manor Road, West Ealing, London W 13. I worked both in the shop and doing the milk round in the West Ealing areas around Manor Road between 1965 and 1975 using hand pulled carts. The milk round was eventually sold to Unigate Dairies who had a large depot in Ealing Common. Frank’s father owned the dairy and whilst I was working for we then used to make up own gills and 1/2 pt cream pots, which initially used to be in bottles. Due to time having to clean the bottles etc. the cream was then put in plastic cartons. The bottle could be the one of the cream bottles and we had names on them to ensure that get mixed with the ones from other dairy suppliers. I hope this helps.

  17. Susan Tebby says:

    Brilliant article and information. Thank you.
    My great grand father worked for the Metropolitan Milk Co. before it was amalgamated with the Dairy Supply Co. and the Wiltshire & Great Western Dairies in 1917 – courtesy your post!. My info comes from the 1891 census return where his job – dairyman – and place of work are given: Metropolitan Milk Co. The suggestion is that the Metropolitan was in Walmer Road – Nos 167-169. Are you able to give any info. please?
    My GtGtGrandfather was also a milkman at one point but lost his job: his fellow worker went off with the takings one day and so they both lost their jobs. Unfair!
    Thanks again for great history. Much appreciated.

  18. Sandra Moody says:

    I have a ceramic cheese dome stamped dairy supply co limited, museum st, London
    It’s cream and has a coat of arms with 2 lions on the dome.
    Can you tell me anything about it

  19. Gail Judd says:

    I have a small metal cup with a curved brass handle. Has Dairy supply Co ltd museum at London stamped into it and GILL H. Also stamped on it. I guess measuring cup. Is it of interest

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