Mrs Lincoln, Milk Lady (From Marguerite Sherman's 'Page for Women', EDP1979/80)
Mrs. Olive Kathleen Lincoln, affectionately known as O.K., or Ollie, to her
customers. Mrs Lincoln, a widow with nine grandchildren, is quite a celebrity
in the village... For more than 30 years she has been delivering milk to
Mulbarton residents in her familiar little blue van. Come rain and snow, and
even the blizzards of last winter, Olive Lincoln delivers the goods whenever
possible.... Up at the crack of dawn, out in all weathers, but Mrs. Lincoln loves
it and says she'll carry on as long as she can walk.
The summer is
obviously easier than the winter, although once the lighter days arrive she is
up at 5 am to collect her milk from the Milk Marketing Board. That's when the
day starts. And going home time? "When I finish mardling"....
likes to keep an eye on the old folk - some of them younger than herself... As
well as delivering the milk, she collects letters to be posted, shopping to be
bought and medicine to be picked up, for her customers. At various points in
the course of the day there is a cup of tea of coffee waiting for her in many
of the 160 houses she delivers to in the village.
....she still has
her own home...as well as ten acres of land and greenhouses. Part of this large
garden is let, but the remainder still takes a great deal of tending, and Mrs.
Lincoln prides herself in doing it alone. In the summer [she] gets the milk
delivered early, and then gets on with the garden.
It was in 1932
that Mrs. Lincoln moved to Mulbarton [from Dereham] with her late husband and
three sons and a daughter. Her husband was a cattle dealer and quite early in
their married life [she] decided to learn to drive.... and her training vehicle
was a rather unconventional cattle float. "I've never taken a driving test... and
if I did I don't suppose I'd pass.... First find out where the gears are, and
after that just use your common sense, that's the way I learned."
Being able to
drive was vital... when she took over the family milk business. Her husband died
in 1939, but the business was kept in the family. When her son decided not to
carry on with the deliveries, Mrs. Lincoln took over. That was more than 30
From the School
1938: Jan. 11th Milk Scheme started
today in school.
Registered Number for Milk M. Board School No. 33269
872 (1/3) pints of milk for March. [and totals recorded monthly thereafter]
People who were pupils at the school in the 1940s remember:
'We could all have milk - I think it was 2½d
(just over 1p) a week. The cardboard tops were saved and we made raffia table
mats, etc. with them. The 'Milk Monitor' for the week had to walk across the
common to tell Mrs Lincoln at the Dairy how much milk to deliver: I remember
going there once and being amazed to see chickens wandering all round her
LINCOLN FAMILY MEMORIES
Two sons and a
daughter of Ollie Lincoln continued to live in Mulbarton. They remember
that the dairy was very much a family business - all the children helped their
mother with the milk bottles. Every morning, a neighbour, Herbert Lake, went to
Mergate Hall Farm, Bracon Ash, with his motorbike and sidecar to pick up churns
of milk. Then new regulation came in and the milk went to the Milk Marketing
Board and Mrs Lincoln had to collect it from there for delivery.
remembers delivering milk before he went to school. Every morning he biked to
Hethel with racks of milk fitted to his handlebars. Often this made him late
for school, but he was never told off - the teacher must have known the
circumstances and been sympathetic.
family business also included eggs - their own and those they collected from
others. They were washed, packed and delivered to clients in Norwich under the
august name of 'National Farm Packers'! Blackberries and elderberries gathered
locally and at Hethel, were also sent to Norwich. The elderberries were used
for dye and wine.