In the days before 24-hour stores, nearly everyone would wake up to milk bottles on their doorstep.

Home deliveries all but disappeared in the 2000s but it seems that having fresh milk delivered once again is becoming popular.

And just this week Smithills Open Farm in Bolton threw its doors open for a special open evening on Wednesday where visitors could meet the farm’s moo-arvellous residents.

The farm delivers to thousands of residents over 10 miles as demand grows for local fresh produce.

There were smiles in rural Smithills as guests enjoyed the opportunity to meet the cows on the family farm and learn about the milking process, starting with a calf feeding session.

The Bolton News: Smithills Open Farm

Ice cream, butter and cream, milk and milkshake samples were on offer as guests learned about the farm’s doorstep milk delivery service.

The Grimshaw family at Smithills Open Farm have been milking cows in Smithills for 36 years and in January 2019, they installed a new pasteurising and bottling plant.

The Bolton News: Smithills Open Farm

Farmer Carl Grimshaw gave a talk and Q&A before visitors headed over to the milking parlour to see the milking in action while the team showed how they made produce including ice cream, yoghurt and butter.

As well as feeding the calves, animal lovers also met furry and feathered friends including alpacas, llamas, emus, sheep, goats, horses, ponies, donkeys, goats and a 26-year-old Eurasian eagle-owl.

The free event is held as a thank you to the farm’s loyal customers, with the farm now delivering milk and other produce to 8,000 doorsteps over a 10 mile radius including Belmont, Blackburn, Chorley, Radcliffe, Ainsworth and Tottington.

The farm, which has been open to the public for 21 years, has a team of 25 delivery men and women, 12 working in milk production, five working on the ice cream, yoghurt and butter production line as well as visitor centre, cafe, farm shop and office staff.

Carl, 38, said: “This is an annual event and the reason we do it is as a freebie to loyal customers and to show them what we do. Everything is made here on site.”

Smithills Open Farm has 100 cows for milking, and between them they produce 3,000 litres of milk each day. The cows are milked at 5am, 1pm and 9pm with fresh milk delivered to the doorstep the following day. One of its top performing cows, Gladys, produces 66 litres a day.

Carl explained: “We had no intention of doing doorstep deliveries at first but in 2019 a local milkman was giving up his delivery and we took it on. The phone never stopped ringing until 10.30pm that night.

“We started out with 700 people and it grew to 2,000 customers. Then during Covid 2,000 became 5,000 customers and our farm staff became the milk delivery.”

In the milking parlour enthralled guests watched as machines applied a steady vacuum to gently extract the milk from the cows.

Digital displays revealed the amount of milk yielded from each cow, who are kept relaxed and distracted from the process by feeding troughs in front of them.The Bolton News: Smithills Open Farm

Smithills Open Farm is the proud owner of Holstein and Jersey cows and is in the process of adding Jersey milk and ice cream to its line, for a creamier flavour.

It currently boasts 26 flavours of ice cream including cookies and cream, Biscoff, mint choc chip and classic vanilla.

For more information visit

Pictures and video by Katie Fitzpatrick