Stilton crazy after all these years

Hartington cheesemakers, from left: Garry Millner, Simon Davidson, Claire Millner, Ady Cartlidge, Alan Salt
Hartington cheesemakers, from left: Garry Millner, Simon Davidson, Claire Millner, Ady Cartlidge, Alan Salt

STILTON cheese is once again being made in Hartington – one of only three designated production areas in the UK.

Claire and Garry Millner, owners of the Old Cheese Shop in the Peakland village, have revived the craft with help from three local experts.

Their first cheese should be ready any day now and they are hoping the stilton will be officially accredited and ready for sale by the new year.

Hartington Dairy closed three years ago, with 180 redundancies, after manufacturer Long Clawson bought the factory and closed it down.

Ex-employees Alan Salt and Adrian Cartlidge were keen to keep the cheese-making tradition alive and approached Claire and Garry – who had taken over the shop with friends – about stocking their products.

“We were so excited because it was something we wanted to see resurrected, so we asked could we join forces with them to make it happen,” says Claire.

They obtained EU and Government funding, found suitable premises at Pike Hall and, with the support of Chesterfield cheese specialist Simon Davidson, finally made their first cheese last month: “It was a very momentous and emotional day for us all.”

They plan to make around 45 tonnes of cheese a year, gradually expanding to 200 tonnes, and are also planning to run cheese-making courses.

“We are more than happy being the country’s smallest stilton producer and the only one in Derbyshire. We want to create a premium product for a premium market,” says Claire.

Online sales: www.hartingtoncheeseshop.co.uk

Lesley Draper