The clue is in the street name but ‘Old Dairy’ appears to be the only on-site reminder of a corner of Okeford Fitzpaine that was a veritable hub of dairying activity.
The cheese and butter factory in Upper Street was one of several dairies that sprang up across the Blackmore Vale in the later 19th century.
Edward ‘Neddy’ Phillips, a member of a local farming family, founded Okeford’s Hill View Dairies to take advantage of improved communications brought about by the arrival of the railway.
In an interview 30 years ago, retired cheesemaker Lionel Wallis told me how his grandfather David Pope accompanied Phillips as he toured the Blackmore Vale farms to buy their milk.
The milk was either sent by train from Shillingstone station to Bournemouth and other towns or made into butter and cheese with the leftover whey going to back to farms as food for pigs.
In its heyday Hill View Dairies provided jobs for around 50 men and women, including my own grandfather, Jim Ridout, of Fiddleford, who worked there as a cheesemaker until the 1950s.
A retirement perk was a can of milk left at New Cross each morning for my grandfather to collect.
I have a vivid childhood memory of walking with him in the snow to fetch the milk.
Hill View Dairies were sold to Malmesbury & Parsons in the 1950s and closed in the 1970s.
The entire site was tastefully redeveloped for housing.
By: Roger Guttridge