THREE years after the closure of the Hartington Creamery, cheese making has returned to Derbyshire thanks to two ex-employees and a small band of entrepreneurs.
Cheese has been made in the village since the 1860s when the original creamery was set up by the then Duke of Devonshire. When the factory closed in 2009, 180 people were made redundant and the building became derelict.
But two ex-employees, Alan Salt and Adrian Cartlidge, were determined that the cheese making tradition in Hartington would not be lost.
Adrian and Alan approached Claire and Garry Millner of the Old Cheese Shop in Hartington to ask if they would sell any cheese they could make if they could get a small factory up and running. And the couple were so excited by the project, that they joined forces with Adrian and Alan to make it happen.
Claire explained: “It was just what Alan and Adrian needed because they had the passion and experience to make cheese but not necessarily the business know- how, which we knew we could manage for them.
“The Hartington Creamery Ltd was registered and away we went searching for premises, no easy task as we wanted to stay in the parish of Hartington and we had to be in Derbyshire to ensure we could make Stilton as there is a PDO on the cheese (Protected designation of origin) which means Stilton can only be made in Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire.
“Our fifth business partner Simon Davidson from the Cheese Factor in Chesterfield joined us earlier this year and we have all been working really hard to get the business up and running.
“The project has cost us £450,000 which has been funded between ourselves and with the help of a £79,000 grant from the LEADER programme.”
The first cheese made at the new factory at Pikehall, has not yet been named. It will be ready in around two weeks time and will be available to buy from the Old Cheese Shop in Hartington.