The downhill Double Gloucester!
Go behind the scenes at Smart's Farm in Churcham; home of the famous Double Gloucester cheese that you'll see being chased down Cooper's Hill every year.
For over twenty years, Mrs Diana Smart has been making Single and Double Gloucester cheese on the family farm in Churcham.
Milling the curd
What you might not know is that there's something a little different about Diana's Double Gloucester...it rolls quite well!
Yes, not only could you see this cheese being eaten or being sold, but every Spring Bank Holiday in May you could ALSO see it being chased down a very steep hill.
The annual Cheese Rolling Festival, held at Cooper's Hill in Brockworth, sees five of Diana's Double Gloucester's rolled down the hill with five different groups of crazy 'rollers' in hot pursuit.
At top speed, the cheese is estimated to reach 70 miles per hour, taking approximately 12 seconds to get from the top to the bottom of Cooper's Hill.
Mixing salt with the curds
Now in her eighties, Diana has recently celebrated her twentieth year in the cheese-making business, although her whole life has been spent on the farm.
"We'd been dairy farming and I always used to do a round with something or other to bring in a bit of extra cash" says Diana.
"First of all it was eggs and vegetables. When we came here, we started doing this milk round with unpasteurised milk.
"We did that for about twenty years, taking milk round Gloucester, then that led on to cheese-making."
Back to the Cheese Rolling Festival and in each race, the first person over the finish line at the bottom of the hill wins the cheese itself, with second place receiving £10 and third place £5.
Traditional Victorian presses
"One year I had a lorry driver who came, delivering something, and he said 'Oh you make the cheese for the cheese rolling don't you? I won one and it was the best cheese I ever ate.' "
But she gets far more that just local interest. Over the last ten years, the festival has gained a fame not just in this county, but around the world.
"We have quite a few visitors from different parts of the world which is always interesting and fun" says Diana.
"Last year we had a couple of film crews, one from Japan and one from Canada.
"About twelve years ago I had a nice man who came from America, specifically to do an article about cheese rolling, and he watched us making cheese.
"We've become very good friends, his wife and I, and we all get on very well together which is really nice."
Diana Smart & her Double Gloucester
So, quite a famous festival and quite a famous cheese to go with it.
Diana Smart, apparently one of only four traditional single gloucester producers in the world, is clearly thrilled to have her product not only traditionally made, but talked about around the globe, famously flung down a hill AND served to guests at rugby HQ.
Yes, she's also a big rugby fan, so if Gloucester RFC make it to the play-off finals at Twickenham (on Saturday 31 May, five days after the Cheese Rolling Festival), Diana's Double Gloucester will once again give her reason to be double delighted.
Peek inside in 360°
Click on the link below to see a unique panoramic photo taken inside Diana's cheese making shed.
last updated: 08/03/2010 at 09:29