Dairy Delivery in North Dublin

In the late nineteenth century, much of the milk available to urban customers was of very dubious purity and frequently made even worse by the malpractices of unscrupulous dairymen. To provide milk of guaranteed quality, several high calibre dairies were established in urban areas throughout Ireland. Among the Dublin ones was the well-known Finglas-based Merville Dairy, which amalgamated with others to form Premier Dairies in the 1960s.

Merville was owned by the Craigie family, noted for their love of horses. As a result, Merville retained horses for delivery work longer than their competitors. Despite this apparently anachronistic policy, Merville was a progressive concern which operated diesel-engined lorries on bulk collection work while their rivals were still using petrol-driven vehicles. Merville had extensive workshops, building their own bodywork, and including complete horse-drawn vehicles.


When traditional "loose milk" deliveries were phased out by the quality suppliers in favour of bottles during the 1930s, Merville built horse-drawn vans to carry the crates and some of these survived into the 1950s. in the years 1949-54 Merville built a hundred new horse-cars (Nos. 55-154) - certainly the last such fleet for any company in Ireland. Simpler in construction than the vans, they were better suited to carrying crates of bottles, especially in terms of accessibility.

No. 107 was built in 1952 and worked initially in the Church Street area, but was later transferred to the Killester depot, where it became the last horse car operated by Premier Dairies. Its driver never worked on the battery electrics that took over completely following the formation of Premier. When he retired in 1978 the car was presented to the Museum through the historical awareness of Sean McKeown, Transport Manager at Finglas. After years of open storage, No. 107 fell into very poor condition and was therefore completely rebuilt by AnCo (FAS) at Broombridge in 1985-86.


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