Singletons & Co, the proud Lancashire cheesemaker
Singletons & Co. has been handcrafting beautiful, artisan cheeses since 1934; history and cheese naturally co-exist in its work. In fact, cheese has been made in Britain for thousands of years, but many of the familiar types that we enjoy today, like Cheddar and Lancashire, have been developed in the last few centuries.
So, how did it happen?
The moderate temperature climate of Britain lends itself to nurturing excellent pastures and is well-suited to the ageing and storage of cheese, which was originally made in an effort to store an abundance of milk. As time passed, different areas around the UK developed their own styles of cheese, although British dairy farming tends to be concentrated in the West, which typically receives the most rain.
Originally, Celtic cheese-making involved allowing the milk to turn acidic and then draining the resultant ‘curdle’ through a cloth to leave behind a fresh cheese. Hard cheeses, on the other hand, are traditionally Roman; they added rennet, a technique they learned from the Egyptians, which allows more moisture to be removed from the final product.
By the 18th century, cheese-making was a common farm practice, but the cheese was generally consumed by the farm workers rather than traded. As the Industrial Revolution led to developments in the railways, this enabled milk to be transported into cities and facilitated factory-made cheeses. Since this process standardized the quality of cheese-making, many independent cheese-makers began to use the same techniques, causing a loss of variations in styles of cheese production.
Farmhouse cheese-making suffered over the following centuries; competing financially with imported cheese from the New World, restrictions during both World Wars, and the introduction of the Milk Marketing Board all took their toll. However, after extensive campaigning, and the dissolution of the Milk Marketing Board in the early 1990s, hand-made cheese began to gain popularity once again.
We now see a huge variety of cheeses in the UK, with over 700 varieties available made from different types of milk including cow, goat and sheep.
Singletons & Co. is an award-winning artisanal cheesemaker, exporting handcrafted products across the globe and enjoying the spotlight in prestigious retailers, farm shops and delis. But how did a Lancashire based cheesemaker get here? For that, we have to admire Duillia Singleton, affectionately referred to as ‘Grandma Singleton’.
At the age of 25, Duillia Singleton enrolled in Dairy School to earn her certificate for Milking, Butter Making and Cheesemaking. Soon after, the ever-ambitious Duillia took two-hundred years of family cheesemaking experience and founded a business in a lean-to shed alongside her husband’s farm. Armed with a staff of six and her own special three-day curd recipe, she began to sell commercially the traditional Lancashire cheese that had been enjoyed by the local community since 1745.
Fast-forward to the present day and Singletons & Co. is managed by another strong and business-focused woman; Tilly Carefoot. Tilly is a fourth generation of the Singleton family to run the business founded by Duillia and to protect the cheesemaking heritage upon which Grandma Singleton founded the business.
Under Tilly’s leadership, Singletons & Co. has grown from being a local Lancashire cheesemaker to a global entity. Tilly carefully balances the creation of innovative products with the protection of the family’s cheesemaking heritage and the community that supports it.
Since Singletons & Co. first ventured into the cheese world from a tiny lean-to in the early 1900s, the business has expanded to include retail and wholesale in the UK and globally. Singletons has a purpose-built establishment in Longridge, Lancashire to ensure traditional handcrafted production is maintained, while creating exciting and unique recipes for the world to enjoy.
For more information, see www.singletonscheese.com.