Ernie, time cut down from one of the Two-Ton Ted of Teddington rock cakes, once you have driven the fastest milk cart in the west, but even he would have had a hard time keeping up with Ian Beardwell.
A milkman for 28 years, has just taken delivery of what must surely be the fastest in the world, the production of milk float: DHL StreetScooter. Weighing 2600kg fully loaded, has a maximum speed of 53mph comparison with his old, 4500kg Unigate float of 10 mph.
“Those old SEV Cabac wagons were so slow,” Ian says when I join him one morning, on his south-west London round. “Uncomfortable, too. It would be the end of your turn with knackered knees and ankles.” The StreetScooter must feel like a Rolls-Royce in comparison. It is powerful, there is a Boost mode for extra grunt and light but direct steering. It is easy to manoeuvrability, crossing speed bumps without disturbing the bottles stacked behind, and yet, with the camera at the rear for the urban U-turns. In short, it turns Ian’s working life.
He is a big boy, but thanks to its driver-friendly StreetScooter Ian can move like a gazelle, leaping from the driver’s seat (for comfort, the StreetScooter left hooker) to slide open the van light, side door, grab the next order, hurry to the gate to drop and collect in the gaps and hop. It is a high-energy routine that repeats 300 times in the day, has 650 customers, but not all of them have a daily delivery), starting at one in the morning and arrive in seven. “I am very happy milkman,” he says, his eyes shining.