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Part 2 of the King of Cheese; Alan Salt celebrates his 50-year Jubilee as a Stilton cheese maker!

Alan Salt

Part 2 of the King of Cheese; Alan Salt celebrates his 50-year Jubilee as a Stilton cheese maker!

This is the second part of Alan’s recollection of the history of the Hartington Creamery: This summer we celebrate Alan Salt’s (often referred to as Salty) 50-year Jubilee as a Stilton cheese maker! This is something we are very proud of and honour Alan’s continued dedication to the cheese industry. If you have ever been lucky enough to meet Salty or within his company you will understand why he’s such a valued member of the team here at Hartington Creamery, funny, witty and very good at making stilton!

Part 2/2 We were lucky enough to take an hour out of Salty’s busy schedule to ask everything from the history of Hartington Creamery, Stilton memorabilia to his big BBC Country File appearance.

Alan Salt

We believe you are a huge fan of stilton and have memorabilia, is this true? 

Back in the early 90’s, there was a plan to have a Visitors centre and Museum at Hartington  -I’m a local history buff so I was tasked with sorting out some content for this plan. I collected a lot of History and artefacts relating to the factory and other cheesemaking sites, the centre plan came to nothing but as a hobby, I still carried on collecting stuff, still am to this day, and some of the pictures\stories etc I have shared to social media and the Hartington FB site. I also have my own FB page –“ Cheesemaking Villages in Derbyshire and Staffordshire” which I use to tell the Hartington and other Dairies stories.

What’s your favourite cheese and why?

I obviously love Stilton but am also very fond of our Dovedale Blue and Peakland White, Probably my other main favourite is Cathedral City Mature Cheddar  -why ? 1) it’s a great cheese and 2) It’s made by Dairy Crest and was one of the products I PR’d and it helped enable me to travel all over the UK and overseas.

How much of a difference does do you think Derbyshire milk makes to the flavour and texture of Stilton?  

We wanted to be pedantic about using Derbyshire milk ( its what we were used to) – All Stiltons made by the 5 Stilton manufacturers are all different because the sites arrangements are all different and they all use they own milk which will vary – we know our milk and that’s part of cheesemaking.

Is there anything that surprised you in the cheese making process when you started out?

I had relations who worked at the Dairy, so I knew quite a bit before I started – But even now I’m still in awe when the liquid milk coagulates after we’ve added the starter and rennet.

How did you initially become involved in making cheese? 

I went to the Hartington Dairy in 1972 -there was no long term plan I needed a job , little did I know I’d still be doing it 50 years later – My Uncle worked there, he said they needed people and the rests history – I was lucky that I’ve done every type of job from milk collection\ testing right through to delivering the product to doing PR on it.

Tell us about your TV + radio appearances over the years!

Again none of it was planned but I’ve had quite a bit of TV exposure -I was firstly on local Radio, Stoke and Derby  then a big one –BBC1 Country File, a whole 15 minutes on screen with John Craven, a really nice chap. At Pikehall we’ve been lucky with several appearances such as , Antiques Road Trip, Escape to the Country, Put your Money where Your Mouth Is , Food unwrapped and Secrets of The Supermarkets and many radio interviews.

How has the local community benefitted from the Creamery? 

The area has benefited, we are not the size of the old Dairy (Yet) but there are 12 of us employed at the site which is a good start – also we keep an old tradition going of cheesemaking in Derbyshire – Pikehall was the only cheesemaking site in Derbyshire but I believe a family are building a Cheeps cheese Dairy in Crich?

What has been the highlight of your career so far?

The Country File event was a big moment and also the first cheese made at Pikehall in 2012 are certainly the top 2 but  getting The BCB Industry Award at Nantwich Show was a great honour .

We are very proud of and honour Alan’s continued dedication to the cheese industry! Congratulations and Thank you Salty!

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