Redundancy led to mum-of-two Jacqueline Marsden continuing the family tradition of making a crust from pork pies.
But fate leant more than a helping hand.
Jacqueline has gone into business making her pies to a secret recipe created by her butcher grandfather. Folk trekked far and wide to Freddie Roebuck’s shop on Thurgoland’s Smithy Hill.
“We grandchildren got the rejects,” she grins. “There weren’t many – his other secret was his Little Champion pie-making machine. He had bought it from an Army Surplus sale after World War Two. It did a fantastic job of cutting the crust and crimping the lids.”
When her grandad retired 40 years ago he sold the machine, leaving the recipe to Jacqueline’s dad Michael.
“For years dad hand-made pies to keep friends and family supplied, but demand got too much for him. He realised he needed a pie press like his dad’s,” says Jacqueline, 46.
When he finally spotted one for sale in a local paper, he figured his luck was in.
And when he went to buy it, he realised it wasn’t just luck at work – it was fate.
Jacqueline says: “It was a Little Champion machine – and the seller told dad he’d bought it from a butcher in Thurgoland.
“We couldn’t believe it – grandad’s machine had come home.”
Eventually Michael packed in his pies and the Little Champion got moth-balled.
But in April 2010 Jacqueline was made redundant from her marketing role at Wentworth Castle.
“I couldn’t find another job, but my husband Edward, who loves my cooking, suggested I started making... ‘those fantastic pork pies’,” she says.
“Grandad’s Little Champion was brought back from its second retirement following a few repairs, and I went into production.”
She set up Penistone Pies and Puddings at her home in Millhouse Green, hand-making the pastry and using pork from Crawshaw’s Butchers at Stocksbridge, flavoured with grandad’s mixture of herbs and seasonings. The machine presses the pies one at a time.
“I think grandad would have been so pleased to know he’s given me a new career,” says Jacqueline, who supplies farmers’ markets, butcher’s shops and cafes with a variety of savoury and sweet pies, tarts and puddings and is now running cookery classes.
“I get all sorts of people coming to learn,” she says. “An 85-year- old chap came to my perfect pastry class.”
The courses are expanding thanks to a business development grant from the Peak District National Park Authority and Sheffield City Council Villages and Communities Together Project.
The next one is a cake baking skills day, £45 with lunch, on May 18. Book on 01226 766889 or at www.penistonepies.co.uk