One little known feature of Victorian London was the spread of Welsh owned dairies along the line of the Marylebone and Euston Roads. They led directly from Paddington Station, the mainline terminus of the Great Western which served South Wales. Two Welsh-speaking ladies kept a dairy in North Gower Street, into which (link to "Nothing Will Beat..) Tolmers Square also opens, well into the 1960s. The façade of one dairy can still be seen in nearby Warren Street. It's covered up to the first floor in dark blue and cream coloured tiles. Its splendid sign, still glazed, reads 'J Evans Dairy Farmer' in bold gold letters on a blue background.

The fact that Mr Evans advertised himself as a farmer suggests his milk was sent up by rail, perhaps from a family holding in Wales. (Until recently all early morning trains were still called milk trains.) Many Victorian dairy owners kept their own cows in sheds or stables close by. Perhaps Mr Evans also did: there is a handy mews around the corner with gabled single storey stables. Or maybe not: I'm fairly sure this is where Mrs Newbery's grandfather stabled his pony, or more accurately, where she stabled herself when he was too drunk to take the reins. The dairy was in the same family until very recently. It then briefly became a grocery and is now a small café. Inside, the tiled walls and counter seem unchanged. The colour scheme is cream with blue borders. There are also pictorial tiles of milkmaids and cows in green meadows. Dairies like it — or as I imagine it to have been — survived at least until the late 1940s. Milk was ladled out of churns into the customers' own jugs. (Butter, eggs, and cheese were also sold, of course.) A few yards away is Housman's University College, and Fitzroy Square where de Morgan once had his tile factory. Victorian history comes tightly packed around here.

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Last modified 9 February 2007