Pick Up A Pint

A Dairy Bottle Sealer From Cochrane’s Bomaderry Grocery

As a young boy, William George Cochrane (b. 1913) moved to Berry with his family and in the 1930s he began work at the local Horlick’s Factory, famous for producing malted milk. In 1937, George married Reta Gall (1918-1996) and they opened their grocery store in Bomaderry while continuing to live in Berry, at Meroo Street.

If you walked into George and Reta Cochrane’s store in Bomaderry in the 1940s and asked for some cream or a half pint of milk, they would have poured the fresh, locally-produced liquid into a clear glass bottle, positioned an aluminium or cardboard cap over the top, and sealed it with this steel contraption that sat on the shop counter. As Cochrane’s store was in the one of the largest dairying regions in the country, there was plenty of across-the-counter milk to sell.

From about 1890, glass milk bottles began to be mass-produced in Australia and were sealed with waxed, cardboard discs. While milk was bottled in many large cities and towns, elsewhere milk was dispensed by the milkman – in the street and directly from his milk cans.

Concerns about hygiene, tampering, and freshness led to the widespread delivery of milk in pre-filled bottles in the 1920s/1930s. Aluminium metal tops replaced the cardboard discs and usually had to be attached in a factory. Failure to seal bottles according to the regulations could result in a fine.

This manual bottle sealing machine from Cochrane’s store suggests that they were still dispensing milk and cream into re-fillable bottles beyond this time, perhaps allowing their customers to bring their own bottles for reuse.