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Memories of Whitstable Characters - Bill Wade

Bill Wade - Shotgun Milkman
(With thanks to Peter Wade, Whitstable)

Some months back, I was involved in putting together the Whitstable Old Boys FC section of the web site in conjunction with Peter Wade. During the course of the discussions, Peter showed me this wonderful old shot of one his ancestors..... Bill Wade...



Bill was a milkman working for the local Bartlett and Bisson dairy.... which explains the churn on the cart in the background and the large container in his left hand. In those days, milk didn't come in disposable plastic containers or even reusable glass bottles. The milkman arrived with a container and tipped it into your very own china jug. It may not have met modern standards of hygiene... but it would certainly have been smiled upon by those concerned about the ozone layer and melting ice caps!

All this might sound bizarre to our younger readers.... BUT I haven't reached the really good bit yet..... because our Bill didn't just carry a milk churn. He came fully armed with a shotgun!

As Peter explained to me, Bill's round included country locations on the edge of town and he supplemented his income by hunting and selling a rabbit or two! His expertise with a gun may have come partly from the First World War. He served in a Dragoon regiment before being invalided out of the forces following a shrapnel injury to his shoulder. After working for Bartlett & Bisson, he went on to ride shotgun for Petts at their West End Dairy in Nelson Road!

Life on the rounds certainly didn't harm his health. A report in a local newspaper celebrated his 65 years of marriage to Nellie Wade. At that time, Bill was 85 and Nellie 86.... and they lived in Essex Street.

During his time at Bartletts and Bisson he earned one guinea per week.... that's 1 and one shilling in old money.... or 1 and 5p in the new stuff. He gave a pound to Nellie and kept a shilling for himself. Well, the cartridges had to be paid for somehow.

He was never mugged on his round.


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