100 Years of Cheesemaking at Colston Bassett
In Notts we love a nice bit of local cheese, so what better excuse do you need to get out your cheese board than in celebration of local dairy Colston Bassett’s centenary year.
Located in the Nottinghamshire village of Colston Bassett, in the ‘heartland of Stilton’, the Vale of Belvoir, the dairy has been making the famously strong-smelling blue veined cheese since 1913. The dairy was originally formed by a group of milk farmers and villagers and was a co-operative of local pastures and farms which helped the troubled workers sell their dairy goods and also improve the value of their product. The dairy has always produced Stilton, amongst other cheeses, and was in fact built specifically to produce the famous crumbly cheese. It has only ever stopped production during wartime in the hundred years since its establishment.
The origins of this deliciously creamy cheese can be traced back to the 18th century and the name ‘Stilton’ was eventually given a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) from the EU in 1996. This means, like champagne and good old Melton Mowbray pork pies, it has to be produced, right down the milk used, strictly within a designated area, with Colston Bassett being one of only five dairies licensed to produce Blue Stilton.
This 100 year milestone in the dairy’s history is being commemorated with a series of events throughout the year. Celebrations began in late April with a service at the village’s St John the Devine church, attended by locals and dairy workers, past and present. Colston Bassett also hosted a royal visit in May from HRH The Princess Royal who was shown around the cheesemaking facilities and also unveiled a commemorative plaque to mark her visit in the dairy’s centenary year.
Colston Bassett has even enjoyed a celebrity endorsement recently when cheese-loving duo Wallace & Gromit recommended taking a trip to try Nottinghamshire’s local speciality whilst on a visit to the area as part of VisitEngland’s recent promotion. The dairy also appears in VisitEngland’s list of ‘101 things to do in England before you go abroad‘ – pretty impressive!
So whether you’re pouring it over a steak, eating it on a cracker or pairing it with a vintage port why not follow in the footsteps of Wallace & Gromit and take home a nice big slice of England’s cheesemaking heritage next time you’re in the lovely Vale of Belvoir.
More can be found on Colston Bassett’s website, including everything from recipe ideas to how their cheeses are produced.
Colston Bassett Dairy Ltd
t: 01949 81322
Colston Bassett Blue Stilton is also available from: