IT is hard for today’s younger generation to imagine but many people left school when they were in their early teens just a few decades ago.

And pretty much everyone had their milk delivered to their doorstep every day by a milkman.

Among those who left school aged just 15 was Daniel Sencier, who clearly remembers his days as a milk boy in Colchester.

Born and bred in the town, Daniel lived at Finchingfield Way and went to Monkwick Secondary School, now Thomas Lord Audley School, before leaving to Join the Co-Op as a milk boy in 1966 - his first real job.

Here he shares his memories of life in Colchester at that time.

Daniel, now 67, explains he joined the Army soon after working as a milk boy and travelled the world.

Ending up in Thailand where he works as writer, splitting his time between there and Cumbria during the year.

“I have reconnected with so many old school friends and was prompted to start writing my story since leaving Colchester.

“I am sure it will set in motion many memories from those winters back in the sixties when everyone left school to go into work.”

Daniel recalls he left school when he was 14 and a half, in August 1966.

“I’d already applied to join the Army, to see the world and learn a trade, and to the Australian Embassy to become a £10 Pom but the real objective was to leave home as fast as possible.”


This meant he knew, as he went to the interview at the Co-op Milk depot in Colchester, he would hopefully not be staying long.

But he had to convince the lady interviewing him otherwise.

“I sailed through the three-minute session, and the lady then gave me a maths test paper.

“She went to get a pencil, but I spotted one on the windowsill, and when she returned I’d already completed all the questions.

“She was amazed, even more than my maths’ teacher who’d always excluded me in mental arithmetic tests so as not to demoralise the rest.”

Having done so well he was offered a far better job as an apprentice in the Co-op Laboratories.

“It was twice as much money, more paid holidays, I could work indoors, wear smart clothes and get free dinner in the canteen but I didn’t want a job for life - just a job until I could escape Essex.”


He accepted the job of milk boy - and getting up at 2.30am.

“My sister Jacqueline was only two, a ticking time bomb sleeping in my parent’s bedroom; if she woke, the whole house would.

“A three-mile run, I ran everywhere, landed me at the depot half an hour early.”

Despite having seen milk floats, now a rare sight, on the street in Colchester, seeing them altogether at the depot was a big moment.

“There must have been over a hundred.”

Having been introduced to Len, who he would be working with, they first had to check the stock which had been put on the float by night workers to make sure it tallied with the books which was a record of what each customer wanted.


Daniel did all the adding up without a calculator.

“There were only a few different things on the packed float, mainly pints, half pints and third pints of milk, small jars of cream and bottles of orange juice, all which came in glass.

“The milk float was a relatively new thing, batteries the size of suitcases but they drove along almost silently.

“However, you couldn’t appreciate that silence because with all that glass in metal crates, rattling along the bumpy road, you could hear us coming from three streets way.”

By 4 am they were out on the delivery, and Len would make up the hand crates, about three houses at a time.

Len even recalled a time when they would use horses on the rounds.

As the days turned to weeks Daniel says he got into the routine.

Friday was pay day and he admits the the little brown packet with fifteen shillings and sixpence in was a “bag of gold to me”.

“Very often, especially after 7am, housewives would have tea and even biscuits waiting for us.”

He says the winter was a tough time on the round.


“Our hands were so cold that we lost all feeling, and the chilblains were terrible, but still, we managed to have fun.

“Customers were complaining that the birds had pecked through the foil caps and drank the cream from their milk, others moaning that the milk and cream were frozen.”

And he recalls the big day a new product was introduced - yoghurt.

“We were given a tasting sample because they were going to turn us into ‘salesmen.’ “After one spoonful, Len and I looked at each other and grimaced; it was like sour milk, we knew it would never catch on!

“It came in four flavours and in ‘plastic tubs,’ and they would never replace glass,” laughs Daniel.

Soon after, the Army called Daniel in for an interview and he became a soldier in May 1967.

“I still smile when I see a yoghurt though, and I even enjoy one occasionally !”

* Get in touch on 01206 508186 if this has jogged memories.