An article from 1937 about the growth of Milk Bars

NEWS REVIEW February 4, 1937

Business and Finance

Milk Bars March

In his newly-rented first-floor Fleet Street office 17 months ago, an ex-miner, the Hon. Hugh D. McIntosh sat ruminating on the possibilities of selling milk to the nation in a new way. Across the road was the “Cheshire Cheese” hostelry, famous haunt of journalists. Thought McIntosh: “Why not sell milk across a bar, like beer?”

Britain’s first stool-and-counter milk bar was born a few weeks later. People laughed at the idea of selling milk in Fleet Street. By the end of the first week they were gasping. The bar was packed out.

Reporters who had never before been heard to call for anything weaker than Burton, were passing their tankards up for straw berry shakes.

A descendant of one of the few survivors of the Black Hole of Calcutta, McIntosh was born in New South Wales, Australia, began his working life in the famous Broken Hill silver mines when a stripling. Trekking to Sydney, he joined up with a cattle station and made his first acquaintance with milk by tending cows. In quick succession, he became pastry cook, cafe manager, restaurant magnate.

At 40, McIntosh was said to be Australia's most influential man. His spare time was spent directing newspapers and theatres. But his passion was sport. He astounded Europe and the United States by booking the Burns-Jack Johnson fight for Sydney. In England, he promoted boxing-matches at Olympia.

Since opening Britain's first permanent milk bar, McIntosh has started 11 others. Nine are in London, three in the provinces A chain of 500 is his aim. Black and White Milk Bars, Ltd., the company controlled by him is expanding rapidly.


Chief rival is National Milk Bars Ltd., directed by a Welsh farmer, R. W. Griffiths, and his brother, Professor Moses Griffiths. The two brothers own ten bars in the provinces arid are planning others.

R. W. Griffiths had only 100 acres when he started farming on his own account as a young man 14 years ago; now he farms 835 acres in Montgomeryshire, South Wales, milks 250 cows, breeds ewes and sows, has 1,500 head of laying poultry and is a member of the Regional Milk Committee.

Moses Griffiths, besides being Professor of Agriculture at Aberystwyth University, is Lands Director of the Cahn Hill Improvement Scheme; frequently he gives radio talks.

Every milk bar operated- by the Griffiths brothers is supplied with Tubercular Tested milk and produce from the electric-powered Welsh farm, one of the most modern in Britain.

Charles Forte, Managing Director of Strand Milk Bars, Ltd., which operates Meadow Milk Bars, at present controls two. In catering circles the name of Forte has been respected for years. On the South Coast, where the family controls a number of restaurants, it is a household word.

Apart from .the chain firms, small companies and individuals are running single bars. Present total is 138.

All are under the paternal eye of the Milk Marketing Board, which now has a separate Advisory Board, directed by go ahead B. M. Hale.

Capital invested exceeds £165,000. More would be forthcoming but for difficulty of finding satisfactory locations. Though a bar can be started on £1,200 and organisers are willing to pay up to £2,000 a year for premises, suitable sites are few.

Industry's Expansion

Last year the industry developed more rapidly in Yorkshire and Lancashire than in any other area, including London. During the Blackpool season, 16 establishments did a flourishing business. But; like those operated for, years at agricultural shows by the National Milk Publicity Council and the Milk Marketing Board, they were only temporary.

On a larger scale are the bars in cafes and department stores. Throughout the country are 299 cafes, 117 departmental stores, and 13 cinemas, with their own milk counters Mobile units already number 17. The Drapery Trust - through Debenhams - controls 150 store cafes with milk bars.

Latest big Interests to incline favourably towards the new idea are licensed hotels, public schools, and blocks of flats. Of the latter the first to install a milk bar is London's massive White House

On these and similar activities milk producers, milk food, and fruit juice manufacturers look with jubilation.

Horlick's Success

Particularly pleased at the prospects, because his firm is responsible for many

Milk's McIntosh
A tavern gave him his idea

Adapter Griffiths
He who found the scheme profitable

Now, There's Posh