David, author of two books on the subject, described the social
and economic conditions of fast growing northern towns and
cities in the 19th century. This caused a depression in rural
areas with many people moving to urban areas for work.
Like many other farming families at that time, the Joys decided
to set up a small herd of about 6 to 8 cattle in the city, in
their case Liverpool. They then produced and sold fresh milk
close to where the customers lived. The Joys hailed from Hebden
in the Yorkshire dales but many farmers moved to towns and
cities from across the northern hinterland.
These small herds, ‘city herds’, were kept in purpose-built end
terraces that included living accommodation for humans and
livestock, cart shed, yard and shop. Links with the home farm
were not broken as dry cows, for example, were sent back by
train for the bull.
By 1900 Liverpool had 500 properties
licensed to operate city herds with about 6,500 cattle.
Naturally, cattle were a common sight in urban areas and
Liverpool had ‘cow Fridays’, when cattle were brought by train
to Lime Street station. They were then herded through streets
for cowkeepers to buy.