Robin Congdon was one of the first pioneers in the 1970s to revive the tradition of milking sheep in the UK. He started off with thirty sheep on a smallholding near Exeter and initially produced yoghurt and soft cheeses which he took to London once a week to sell. Within a few years he was introduced to Maurice Ash who was connected with the Dartington Hall Estate and the two went into partnership on a larger farm alongside the river Dart. Here Robin developed Beenleigh Blue named after the hamlet in which it was first made and later Harbourne Blue named after the tributary of the Dart which flows through Beenleigh. Several years later he created Devon Blue using the cows’ milk of a neighbouring farmer.
We were lucky enough to ride the wave of excitement over the new speciality cheeses being developed in the 1980s and 1990s greatly helped by such enthusiasts as Patrick Rance, Randolph Hodgson, and James Aldridge; all of whom encouraged the creation of a new tradition of cheesemaking in this country.
We built a much larger cheese dairy and ran our own cheese shop in Totnes for over 20 years. Over the years several other cheeses were developed including Devon Roan, Rooks’ Nest, Chesvit, Ticklemore Goat and Devon Rustic; these last two recipes we passed onto Sharpham Creamery when we decided to simplify the production in the cheese dairy so that Robin could take a back-seat from day to day cheesemaking.
Ben Harris started working in the cheese dairy in 2002 having been brought up on a dairy farm. From school he went to catering college and worked at the Carved Angel restaurant in Dartmouth for five years. He has worked in all areas of the cheese dairy, starting off with the pasteurising of the milk and the care of the cheese once it has been made. He is now in overall charge of the dairy and the main cheesemaker.
Sarie Cooper joined Robin in the 1980’s, ran a cheese shop in Totnes for twenty years and now works part-time in the cheese dairy.
Lloyd Evans has worked at the cheese dairy since 2008. Lloyd is responsible for collecting and pasteurising the milk in addition to the routine care of the cheese, he is also the back-up cheese maker.
Sarah Daligan has been with Ticklemore Cheese since she was 16, though had a 15 year break in the middle whilst studying and having a family. Sarah is responsible for wrapping cheese ready for sale and the selling of the cheese as well as general day to day care of our cheese.
The whey produced from cheesemaking is taken to an anaerobic digester to produce electricity. We have a zero to landfill policy on all other waste.