RETIRED dairy farmer John Gullett spent 60 years in the dairy industry not only producing but also delivering milk to locals doorsteps - a job his son, Paul, is now carrying on in what has become a family tradition.

Paul was 16 when he initially began helping on the family milk round in their home city of Bradford. At that time 80 per cent of customers were getting their milk delivered - now it is less than 10 per cent.

For the Gullets delivering milk to doorsteps is still providing a livelihood and that is somewhat refreshing considering the bulk of Britain’s milk is now bought in a plastic bottle from either a supermarket or a local convenience store.

The few inquiries I’ve seen on local social media sites about doorstep deliveries is indicative of a growing interest in returning to what would now be viewed as an old fashioned tradition.

John recalls in 1968 when he began delivering milk to local folks’ doorsteps, there were three or four farms close by also delivering milk around the area.

Back then doorstep milk deliveries were booming. The introduction of pasteurisation which brought in the big dairies prompted John and his family to make an important decision - whether or not to invest in their own pasteurisation plant.

“We did, we invested and things picked up again,” says John, referring to the 15 retailers who were, at that time, coming to their yard for milk.

However, although John believes doorstep milk deliveries is a boom for older people, he isn’t too optimistic that we will return to the days when several milk floats were trundling down streets.

“It will never be like it was - but nothing stays the same,” says John.

There is a thought that the consciousness of plastic waste could be prompting people to return to glass milk bottles - many of us can recall the familiar clanking of the bottles in floats as they were transported along our streets during those crack-of-dawn deliveries.

Says John: “I think that is what they are really thinking about because the quality of milk in polys (plastic milk bottles) is very good but I am sure there must be a huge waste aspect of that.”

However, while he doesn’t foresee it will return to what it was, he believes people are certainly more environmentally conscious.

“I myself cannot see it will ever get back to where it was, but this aspect about the bottles and the waste I think that is a big factor.”

Paul is confident doorstep milk deliveries have a future but demand will be down to whether environmental consciousness prompts customers to put their hands in their pockets and pay that little bit extra for glass bottles to be delivered direct to their doorsteps.

“It is lovely to think it will carry on and people with green tendencies, who care about the planet, may think one small thing they can do is stop buying milk in plastic,” he says.

Milkman, Paul Armstrong, believes the BBC’s ‘Blue Planet II’ which raised awareness of plastic pollution and its impact on marine life, has prompted many people to be more conscious of protecting the planet.

The week we spoke he had received four new inquiries from customers about glass bottles - but will this quest to help save the planet by swapping plastic for glass bottles prompt a resurgence in the traditional doorstep milk deliveries?

Since Paul started his milk round 17 years ago he has expanded his business by buying up other rounds.

Paul and his team deliver 20,000 bottles a week to 1,600 doorsteps. It is a real community service serving more than 300 customers in areas including Queensbury, Clayton, Great Horton, Low Moor, Shelf and Wibsey. He also delivers to businesses too.

“I can certainly say in the last 17 years we are now going in reverse to what it was,” he says, referring to the new customer requests he has received.

While environmental awareness has played a part, Paul and his family’s success, his four children and partner, Jayne are all involved in the business, is also down to diversification.

As well as selling milk, he also offers other products such as fruit juice and eggs and he even caters for green-fingered customers who can put in their garden orders for compost, grow bags and bark.

He doesn’t have a traditional milk float, Paul’s Ford Transits need to cope with the hillier terrain they cover, and payment for the produce has, like most things, moved online but his branding “Keeping the Doorstep Tradition Alive” is very much the ethos of his successful business.

Paul is aware of the competition - there are many other places where customers can purchase their milk, but perhaps consciousness about protecting our environment may be prompting more people to return to tradition.

He says customers also tell him they like to recycle to which Paul replies the milkman was the first person to recycle - washing bottles and putting them back on doorsteps long before we were encouraged to recycle through our household bins.

“We have been there before anybody else did it,” says Paul.

Locally, it seems interest could be growing in returning to traditional doorstep deliveries but what about nationally?

A spokesman for Dairy UK, described as a ‘processor-led organisation representing farmer-owned co-ops and private dairy companies producing safe, nutritious and sustainable dairy foods, says: “We know there has been a lot more interest in doorstep delivery.”