Two dairy makers who were made unemployed by Dairy Crest and Long Clawson Dairy are determined to now bring Stilton making back to Derbyshire.
After being made redundant in 2008 and 2009, Alan Salt and Adrian Cartlidge decided to start their own cheese making business and built a factory from scratch on farmland near Hartington.
Stilton is protected by its Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) status which means it can only be made from milk sourced in Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire. The two men had to apply to the Stilton Cheese Makers Association (SCMA) to gain a licence which would allow them to make Stilton in their factory.
Mr Salt told FoodManufacture.co.uk: "Adrian and I have more than 50 years of cheesemaking experience between us. But we still have to pass our test again to get the SCMA accreditation."
They had their first audit last week and it could be several months until they are given permission to start manufacturing the protected cheese as the process can be time consuming. He stressed that tradition and provenance were even more important after the sourcing scandals of the last few weeks.
At the moment there are only five creameries allowed to produce Stilton in the UK; two in Nottinghamshire and three in Leicestershire. It used to be made in Derbyshire by Dairy Crest when the county had a thriving cheese making business, but the factory, and many others, was forced to close.
After being made redundant from Dairy Crest Mr Salt said that he was "so sad when the factory closed" because it was something he had known all his working life. It has also made Derbyshire lose its connection with a long running tradition of cheese making in the county, dating back from the late 1800s.
The project hasn't been without its problems. "Securing funding and cash flow has been the biggest lesson," said Mr Salt.
A grant from the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs for £80,000 was eventually secured through the East Midlands sector and more funding was made available through local investors such as local cheese shops.