Colwick Cheese

Photo: Illustrative image for the 'Colwick Cheese' page

A local delicacy!

By R B Parish

Stilton Cheese continues to be a popular cheese made in Nottinghamshire, however residents with a longer memory will remember Colwick Cheese. 

This was a type of cottage cheese said to have been developed by John Clarkeston, who died in 1645 and was buried in Colwick Old Church. It should also be noted that it is said to have arisen in Barton in Fabis in the mid 18th century. 

The cheese appeared to be a very popular and familiar product being made by schools and at home, often in the shape of a bowl into which fruit, cream or jam cold be placed. Hilary Silvester, then vice president of Nottingham civic society noted in 2011?

“I remember from my childhood my mother making Colwick cheese  by pouring sour milk through muslin cloth to catch the curds, then tying the top of the cloth together and hanging it out on the clothes line to drain., then squeezing and moulding it into a round shape similar to Camembert. It tasted very like today’s cottage cheese....I recall eating it spread on bread with pepper and salt.”

The Harrison family specialised in the cheese and sold them on Wednesdays and Saturdays on a stall in the Market square and moved to Central market in 1928 and remained there until it closed. The black boy hotel and Kings Grocery Shop in Friar’s lane also stocked it. The Richmond diary, at the top of Ransom Road near the junction with Woodborough Road, was the noted premises for its commercial production. It made eight tonnes of the cheese a day.  Katyjay in Nottstalgia notes:

“I remember Colwick Cheese, if I was in town on a Sat when a teen, I had to go and get one from the old Central Market. It had a kind of crust (not like pastry) that crinkled as you cut into it. We didn’t have a fridge so we kept it in the meat safe, but you had to eat it within a  day or two, or it was ‘off’.”

Commercial production ceased in 1993 when the Mapperley Richmond Dairy closed down. Apparently it fell afoul of a Salmonella scare as it was not pasteurised. The boss of the Richmond Diary, Brian Barnsdall was told that he would need to pay £100,000 to comply with new European law. Production did move to a diary in Oakham but this apparently closed in the early 2000s. Another diary in Carlton made it commercially until 1970.

Despite no restrictions on domestic production, Colwick cheese appears to have fallen by the wayside. This is probably a result of the combination of lack of time, throwing away off milk and supermarkets, not to say the general availability of refrigerators. Such that Colwick cheese has fallen into the category of Artisan cheese, certainly, in 2011, local BBC news reported that Matthew O’Callaghan, a food historian, planned to revive Colwick cheese at an Artisan cheese Fair at Melton Mowbray.  Whether it returns to commercial production we have yet to see.

Recipe from Nottinghamshire regional recipes website

“Use full-cream-milk – 2 gallons (9 litres) will make two small cheese. Heat the milk to 90 mix in rennet in the proportion of 1 drachm to 1 1.2 gallons of milk. Top stir till curd forms, then leave in a covered bucket for 1 1.2 hours, Mark the top of the each with the Colwick hoop, slice off the two ‘tops/ and put them on one side. Line the two hoops with your muslin, then ladle the curd into the hoops. Leave to drain a little, then slide on the two top[s and fold the muslin over the top of the hoop. Leave to drain again, then pull the cloths up and inwards, pulling the curd away from the edge of the hoop. Do this several times whilst draining is going on. This will then produce the characteristic curling over the edge of the Colwick cheese. After 24 hours of draining the cheese should be firm enough to handle- do not turn the cheese during draining. When really firm the hoop can be removed and the cloth pulled away; it is then ready to eat.”



Cook, A., 1970 A history of Colwick,  

Nottinghamshire regional recipes, Nottstalgia forum and ThisIsNottingham websites

The author is researching folklore and customs. Any correspondence on this matter is gratefully received

This page was added by R B Parish on 21/03/2013.
Comments about this page

Hi, I remember me mam making colwick cheese during the early years of the war. All she did was when the milk went sour, she just hung it in muslin in the pantry over a bowl to drain. when it was done it was place in a basin with asaucer on top with a flat iron on that 'til it was solid. Job's a good'un! Try it and enjoy. :-)

By Doug Gisborne
On 25/03/2013

Hi, I grew up in Colwick (pronounced Colick) on Manor farm and my mum and grandmother both made Colwick cheese. Interestingly the family originally came from Barton In Fabis . I did not realise the cheese originated from here. In the 60's the cheese was sold in local greengrocers.

By susan stowe
On 13/01/2014

I loved Colwick Cheese as a lad, we used to buy it from the local Butcher! Served up on a lump of fresh bread with plenty of pepper a true delicacy.

By Rod Brister
On 02/12/2014

The last time I had Colwick Cheese was in the 1980s, it was bought in small plastic containers.

By Peter Bowler
On 05/12/2014

Remember Colwick cheese very well,used to love it on sandwiches with cucumber and pepper,dont know if its still available,it was better than most soft cheeses I've tasted since.

By donna newton
On 15/09/2021

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