Worleston Dairy Institute


Interior Cheese Making Room Worleston Dairy Institute
Interior Cheese Making Room Worleston Dairy Institute

This is a history of the Worleston Dairy Institute situated at Aston Hall, Worleston and near the Cheshire market town of Nantwich.

Much of the material has been kindly provided by local historian Andrew Lamberton. It’s a work in progress, with lots more material to be added soon…

The Start of the Worleston Dairy Institute

Postcard of the Worleston Dairy Institute
Postcard of the Worleston Dairy Institute

The Worleston Dairy Institute was founded as a dairy school in 1883 by Thomas Rigby, with the  backing of local landowners. There’s a press report covering the opening here.  It was the first educational establishment in the world to specialise in the training of dairymaids in the art and science of cheesemaking. It quickly became popular and attracted female pupils from all over the county and further afield.

The school was established at Aston Hall in Aston-Juxta-Mondrem with a 180 acre estate with 60 cows producing 200 gallons of milk each day, most of which was converted into cheese. Any surplus milk was sent to nearby towns and cities via the railway station at Worleston close by:

Cotton Jodrell map of Aston Hall


It was more widely known initially as the Cheshire Dairy Institute and by 1892 William Buckley had succeeded Thomas Rigby as Farm Manager. In an advertisement of that year “boarders are welcomed at the very moderate rate of £1 per week.”

Cheshire County Council was formed in 1893 and it immediately took over the running of Worleston. In 1894, Miss Jane Forster was a pupil here, who then went on to study at Reading. She came back as a tutor under Miss Pedley and after one year took over as Principal on Miss Pedley’s retirement. Miss Forster continued as Principal at Worleston for the next thirty years. During this time she earned the respect of all in the industry for her forthright no-nonsense approach to everything she did. Her high standards stood her in good stead and by 1913, when King George V and Queen Mary visited the Dairy Institute she could state with great pride that her pupils were in all parts of the Commonwealth.

During the first fifteen years of County Council ownership, 1150 students were admitted. The house was fitted up for boarding and lodging of twenty pupils and none were admitted under fifteen years of age.

The students’ day at Worleston in all the years MissForster was head there, began in the early morning with students detailed to learn how to milk, and the instruction then was concerned with the detail of cheese and buttermaking. Buttermaking was a relatively minor part but in cheesemaking it was the full round every day from vat to cheese room. There was early- ripening, medium-ripening and in the autumn, long-keeping cheese. The itinerary also included instruction in domestic duties and farmhouse management. From six to seven cheeses were produced daily. There were three terms, and nearly ninety students passed through Worleston every year.

The picture below, of the Worleston Dairy Institute, shows:

The principal, Miss Forster in the centre
On her right is  R P Ward, the Director of Education of the County of Cheshire
Behind, on her left, is Roger Bate, Chairman of the Council
and Worleston Dairy Institute staff and pupils

Miss Forster, R P Ward, Roger Bait and staff

There are some lecture notes, taken by a student in 1913, here.

In 1914 Henhull Hall in Nantwich was purchased, and there were plans muted to move Dairy Institute there, but the Dairy Institute was still at Worleston in the 1921 Census, and I don’t believe that it ever went to Henhull Hall.

Reaseheath Hall was purchased in 1919 to form the County Agricultural School and Worleston Dairy Institute closed in 1925 when it became part of the Cheshire School of Agriculture (now Reaseheath College).

Making Cheshire Cheese

Bill Pearson \ Nantwich History

Bill Pearson’s Home Page

9 thoughts on “Worleston Dairy Institute”

  1. Hello Bill
    My g uncle Frank Edwards and his wife Edith were living at Mile House Farm, Worleston in 1942 which as I am sure you know is only a few yards from Worleston Dairy Institute. It seems very possible that he might have been employed by them as he had been a farm manager elsewhere. Would you have any evidence which might support this
    Kind regards
    Shirley Kennerley

  2. Hello Bill,

    I wondered if you had any idea when the above photographs were taken. My grandmother, Alice Johnson grew up in the Institute. Her father was a farm labourer in 1901. By 1911, she was 14 years old and a housemaid there, when Jane Forster was the principal. She eventually left to work in service at Hodnet Hall, where she met and married my grandfather, one of the gardeners. I just wondered if my grandma was in one of the photographs.

  3. Hi Bill
    Just having a rummage in your excellent history of the Worleston Dairy Institute.
    I hope you are keeping well, you are still missed.

  4. My Grandmother Lizzie Wilkinson of Weston was a pupil here and I was wondering if there is any rolls etc that recorded her presence,and of course photos !!Thank you for your informative article.

  5. My maternal grandmother, Chrissie Minshull 1897-1982, was training at Worleston Dairy Institute in 1914 and I have her hand written notes in my possession. She was cheesemaker for her grandmother Mrs Richard Dutton Walley, Huntington Grange, Chester, and then worked as cheesemaker at Edstaston Hall, Wem, for Samuel Gregory. She married William Henry Huxley 1897-1964 of Whixall in 1922 and they farmed Wood Farm, Ledsham, Wirral. Gran’s eldest sister May Minshull 1894-1983 (Mrs Ern Huxley) was at Worleston Dairy Institute in 1913 when King George Fifth & Queen Mary visited. Gran’s cousin, Tom Denson,1887-1969, farmed Mile End, Worleston, and Gran’s uncle Richard Pedley Walley 1849-1922 sat on the Board of Worleston Dairy Institute and was present on the day of her interview, and only after she had been successfully interviewed did he reveal that Chrissie Minshull was his niece. I have Gran’s two Worleston Dairy Institute Certificates dated 1914. From Rev Philip Cook, 83 Test Rd, Sompting, West Sussex BN15 OEP.

  6. My Grandmother trained as a cheesemaker at what she referred to as ‘The Dairy College’ which I have narrowed down to Worleston. My Dad has her class photo and am happy to send you a copy for your records but cannot do that under lockdown as my parents are shielding and live 200 miles away from me (quite close to Barnard Castle but I am not going to do a Dominic Cummings). As soon as I can, will do. I think it is around the time of the First World War. Sadly she died in 1980 so I cannot ask her any questions but I will continue on my quest to find out more about her. She was a cheesemaker but worked in a bank in the early 1920s, riding to work on a motorbike! I love researching her life and know how much fun historical research is so happy to share something that might be useful to someone else. Will send as soon as is possible.

  7. Hi Bill and thank you so much for this.
    My Grandmother Rachel Bradbury was a pupil there in 1921. She then worked as a cheesemaker at a family farm in Burleydam (Charles Weavers Farm who married her cousin Sarah “Annie” Simcock). Her mother, my great grandmother Fanny Jane Brabury nee Simcock was from the Town Lane Farm Mobberley Simcock family.
    I’m trying to find more about her life before she married my Grandfather John Deeming in 1934.
    Do student records still exist anywhere in any form?
    Rachelle Chippendale

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