9 April 1999

LIVING MILK MUSEUM…

WHERE better to house a collection of dairying bygones than on a modern dairy farm open to the public?

With this in mind, the National Dairy Council chose Longdown Dairy Farm, Ashurst, near Southampton, as the new home for its collection of dairying bygones.

"We are extremely pleased to have the collection here," says Catherine Vint who feels it fits in well with the rest of the farm which is visited by 7000 schoolchildren a year and over 50,000 members of the public.

Visitors can watch the afternoon milking from a viewing gallery and learn about milk production and distribution past and present The farm has its own education officer and can take up to five guided school visits a day, important considerations for NDC when they were looking for a new site for the museum which was formerly at Wellington Country Park, Reading, Berks.

Catherine and Graham Vint moved lock stock and dairy herd from Jersey four years ago to take on the business tenancy of the farm. "It is 225 acres of wet clay but it does grow good grass," says Graham, who milks 140 Jerseys. "We milk at 2pm and the public love watching the herd coming in from the fields and then viewing the milking from the gallery."

In addition there are sheep, goats, pigs and poultry to see and sometimes feed and handle and there is a good balance between fun and education. "I am very keen that visitors realise that animals are raised for food and are not just cute and fluffy," says Catherine – pointing out a panel depicting a sheep with lift up sections showing the cuts of meat the quarters provide.

The museum collection is fascinating for old and young alike, with its delivery carts, churns and measures, milk processing and packing equipment. A shop front showing a typical Victorian town dairy shop has some beautifully decorated tiles, ceramic milk churns and porcelain cows and milkmaids and decorative swans that can filled with eggs for sale.

Its all a far cry from todays utilitarian dairy counters which are downright boring by comparison. Perhaps the Victorians knew a bit more about marketing than we give them credit for today.

Longdown Dairy Farm is open daily until Oct 31. (Tel 01703-293326).

The National Dairy Council Museum Collection has

found a new home. Tessa Gates visited Longdown Dairy

Farm in Hants where visitors can learn about milk

production and distribution past and present

Catherine and Graham Vint deliver a real dairy experience at their farm with modern milking and a museum.