Arthur Hollins’ mother Lilian used to make cream cheese and Cheshire Cheese at Fordhall farm; she sold her cheeses at local markets. This was common practise on Shropshire farms up to 1939 when wartime restrictions started. The making and selling of cheese was still not allowed again until 1954, when these restrictions were finally lifted; Arthur started by selling liquid milk until 1956. Then things began to change. Arthur started to make cheese again using the milk from his own Jerseys cows. In the beginning the cream cheeses were simply flavoured with parsley, onion and walnuts, later on there were over 40 different flavours of cream cheese; Arthur never let any idea stand still and he liked to experiment. In 1958 ‘Parsley cheese: cream cheese to which parsley is added- suggested for sandwiches or on cream-crackers, cost 1/3d, (6p).
Arthur readily admitted that his first attempts at cheese making were not very satisfactory, but perseverance plus the ambition to succeed in a highly competitive market paved the way for the super quality cheeses he manufactured. Since those early attempts he had come a long way in only 12 months. His cheeses were now famous in a large number of towns and cities, particularly in the Midlands and North, for their quality and exciting flavours- such as nuts and wine, pineapple, prawn and mouth-watering ham. In 1957 Fordhall Farm was producing Farmhouse Cheshire cheese, cream cheese (later called ‘soft’ cheese), yoghourt, yoghourt cheese, farmhouse butter, and farm bottled Jersey TT milk and milk cocktail (milk flavoured with coffee, strawberry, chocolate or vanilla). Arthur however was not satisfied and wanted to sell even more dairy products. He was already investigating cottage cheese.
“Mr Hollins’ next enterprise is to be the production of cottage cheese. From an American firm he has obtained the recipe of a famous American brand of this product and when he commences production he will be England’s only producer of this brand so far as he is aware. The method of making it, he says, is an entirely new one.” Wellington Journal & Shrewsbury News November 16th 1957
“When butter-making began we were left with quantities of buttermilk and skim milk, the buttermilk was quite easy to dispose of. People in the North like drinking it. But the skim milk was quite a problem till someone suggested cottage cheese. At first we weren’t very successful. But after a few experiments we found we could make it- after all, my husband’s mother was a prize-winning cheese maker and my husband stirred cheese almost before he could walk.” May Hollins 1958
They began producing two varieties of cottage cheese- one plain, the other with additional cream. Then different flavourings began to creep in. Arthur experimented with various different flavours of cottage cheese. These cheeses sold well for cocktail parties, and other occasions requiring snacks. The popular flavours included herbs such as parsley and sage, watercress grown in the Fordhall beds, onion, cucumber, celery, horseradish, pimento and gherkin. Shrimp, lobster, crab and salmon, supply the fishy varieties, under the heading ‘exotic flavours’ pine-apple, nuts and wine, pickled walnuts and paprika. In 1958 May used salmon- caught the legal way- as one of the 40 flavours for her home-made cottage cheese. Arthur also made yoghourt cheese and later on he invented Cheese Gateau made with his own soft cheese.
Nowadays cottage and cream cheeses are common-place in supermarkets, however good quality local cheeses produced by independent traders can be bought at our Farm shop, click here for more information.