Andy Swinscoe & Graham Kirkham
Andy developed his expertise in traditional farm made and unpasteurised cheeses whilst working for The Fine Cheese Co. and Paxton & Whitefield (Britain's oldest cheesemonger) after studying Culinary Arts in Sheffield. In 2010 The Duchess of Northumberland awarded him a Queen Elizabeth Scholarship to explore the art of ‘cheese maturing’ in France. In December 2012 he returned to the North to open a cheese maturing facility and shop in Settle. The Courtyard Dairy’s mantra is to champion and sell the finest unpasteurised farm made cheeses in the UK.
Ruth Townley Married John Kirkham a local farmer 42 years ago. They lived and farmed on Beesley farm that had been John’s home since the age of two. They shared the 15 century stone cottage with John’s mother.
As time went on, and Milk prices dropped, it was decided that Ruth would start production of Lancashire Cheese made from their own unpasturised milk, just as Ruth’s mother had done before, (interestingly Both Ruth and John come from three generations of Lancashire cheese makers).
A little outbuilding was converted into a cheese making dairy, Ruth took her mothers recipe and equipment, production started. In those days Ruth had three young children and also helped run the rest of the farm. The unpasturised Milk from their herd of Holstein Friesians was used to make her 3 day curd Lancashire cheese, working 7 days a week.
Over the years the herd increased and therefore production of Mrs Kirkham’s Lancashire increased. Sixteen years ago Ruth’s only son Graham Kirkham came into the dairy to learn the Art. Graham is now the Cheese maker, but Ruth keeps a very close eye on things and is always available for help or advice.
Plans for a new Cheese making dairy and a brand new milking parlour were hatched. The Parlour was built first, then in May 2008 the production was moved 20 metres to the new purpose built Cheese making dairy and cheese maturation store.
The herd has now increased to 85 cows, still milked every day by Graham’s dad. The cheese is the only unpasturised cloth bound and butter rinded Lancashire cheese made today still using traditional Starter Culture and Natural Rennet just as is was originally made.
The Kirkham’s are very proud of their heritage, and the fact they are able to produce their unique unpasturised Lancashire they way it always has been to the same high standard.