THEY thought it was a gouda idea - and now, after nine months maturing, it seems they were edam right.
Five foodies are hoping to put the Peak District village of Hartington back on the cheese-making map - four years after production of stilton there ceased following more than 130 years.
The quintet - Simon Davidson, Alan Salt, Adrian Cartlidge, and Garry and Claire Milner - have opened a new creamery. And they reckon they can revive the area’s historic reputation for producing a belting bit of blue.
The village was globally renowned for its stilton after the Duke of Devonshire opened a cheese plant there in the 1870s, but the factory was shut in 2009.
“It was a real shame because all this tradition just disappeared,” says Simon Davidson, one of the five and also the owner of R P Davidson Cheese Factor shop in Chesterfield. “We just thought someone had to bring it back. We’ve been open nine months now but this summer things have really just taken off.
“We’ve entered the Bakewell Show and we’ve started selling in Japan. I never knew the Japanese were big cheese fans but we’re glad they’ve discovered us.”
Some history then: Hartington’s reputation for cheese was established in the 1870s when the Duke of Devonshire opened a facility. Famously, it is said he give the product as a present to members of the Royal Family. The site - known as the Long Clawson Hartington Dairy and owned for much of its history by J M Nuttall - was taken over by Diary Crest in the Eighties and was closed in 2009.
“I got a call in January 2012 from two of the cheese makers who’d worked there,” explains Simon, a 48-year-old father-of-two. “They said they, along with a married couple who had bought a village shop, were going to start producing cheese at a new place, and would I be interested.
“My dad, who set up our cheese shop, had died a few months earlier and left me some money. He actually took me to the old factory when I was a nipper and I remember even then thinking it was a magical place. I could hear him nudging me after I got the call, saying ‘go on, son, do it.’ So I did.”
The quintet - who all live in the Peak District apart from Simon who lives in Chesterfield - opened their new creamery at Pike Hall, off Via Gellia Road, in November.
“We do two cheeses, Peakland Blue and Peakland White, and they’re both doing great,” he says. “We’re already looking to expand.”