HISTORY OF LANCASHIRE CHEESE

Cheese making in Lancashire can be traced back as far as the 12th Century when in 1199 King John granted Preston a Royal Charter to host an annual cheese fair.

lancs cheese - mont 2Through the centuries that followed cheese production in Lancashire continued to grow with records from the 1300’s showing Lancashire cheese being shipped to London from Liverpool. In truth the style of this cheese would bear little resemblance to today’s styles of Lancashire.

Then from around the 1790’s the Lancashire cheese recipe began to resemble something similar to Lancashire Tasty and Creamy of today. The method involved breaking the curd, draining the whey, placing it in a vat and pressing it with a cheese stone.  This curd was then mixed with half its quantity of the previous day’s curd.

The mixed-curd cheese was pressed, turned, clothed and salted over two days to make a final cheese.

These early cheeses were flat in shape, about three to four inches high and were sold after being matured for five to six months.

This unique method of mixing curds to make cheese brought with it problems of consistency which in 1892 saw a major turning point in the history of Lancashire cheese. Joseph Gornall of Cabus near Garstang, was a County Council employee and was well aware of the problems cheese makers were having and invented the “Gornall’s Patent Cheese-maker” which helped to standardise production. This recipe and method is still adhered to today.

By the mid 1900s cheese production in Lancashire was booming with over 200 farms and creameries producing around 4800 tonnes of Lancashire cheese each year.

But the Second World War put a stop to all Lancashire Cheese production because it was classified as a soft cheese which was unsuitable for rationing. This obviously decimated the Lancashire Cheese industry and when Lancashire cheese production was again permitted in 1948 there were only 22 farms making Lancashire cheese.

The 1960s saw a new Lancashire cheese enter the market. Lancashire Crumbly was invented specifically to compete with other white crumbly cheeses such as Cheshire, Wensleydale and Caerphilly.

Today sees a resurgence in demand for Lancashire Cheese that is produced in Lancashire, using Lancashire milk.