Walker, Gordon (b.1924)

Gordon Walker joined the RAF after leaving school and served as an aircraft navigator during World War II. After demobilisation in 1946 he worked for Horlicks at Ilminster as one of the first artificial inseminators of cattle in Somerset.  He rejoined the RAF in 1950, but after a bad crash in Japan he returned to civilian life and joined his father who was a partner in the long-established Wells firm, Crump & Way, cheese buyers.


In later years Crump & Way were taken over by the Milk Marketing Board and became known as Mendip Foods. He learnt a great deal about cheese, both farmhouse and factory made, learning the methods of making and storing cheese, and the issues relating to buying cheese.

Cheese being stored at Crump and Way, Wells. Cheese being stored at Crump and Way, Wells.
Sound File
Listen to Gordon Walker - 1.14MB Duration 3:28 min.

AH: And how did you actually store?  Can you describe to me how they were stored in these buildings?


GW: I’ve got pictures. Shall I show you?


AH: Oh, can you show me afterwards?


GW: In those days they would be stored on the floor and where there were concrete floors you’d have a cheese board, which was a piece of three-ply, cylindrical, the size of the cheese, and they all sat on these boards, and when it got full or something, we would put one of these boards between two cheese, and put one on top of the other.  They had to be turned regularly in those days, and they were also stored on shelves around the store or sometimes through the centre of the store.  And they all had to be turned and cleaned.


They had corsets, they were all wrapped in corsets in those days, which was cloth that goes round which was all stitched on, just like a pair of corsets.  And they were kept in these right up until the time that they were sold, and then those corsets were taken off and sent back to the farmer who boiled them all up and used them, used them again.


Used to be able, if cheese had been stored on the floor, used to be able to tell if it was a good buy or a bad buy by walking along, we used to bounce up and down on the ball of your foot.  If you found a weak cheese, you could feel it was weaker and then you knew that that was probably a soft-bodied cheese and probably a [] flavoured, a sweet or flavoured cheese.  So you could even tell the flavour by bouncing up and down.


AH: And that’s how, you did do that, did you?


GW: Did do that, yes, used to spread out, just walking up and down.


AH: So if you, if you found one that was soft-bodied...


GW: Yes, I had Delia Smith down once and she said to me, you know, the woman who writes the cookery things. She said, ‘I bet you can’t find me an [soft] flavoured one.’  I said, ‘I bet I can.’  So of course I walked up and down until I found a really soft, soft one, and I just poked my cheese iron in, pulled it out and put it straight under her nose, and I said, ‘There you are, smell that.’  And of course it was a sweet, mucky cheese.  I don’t think she knows to this day how I did it.

Copyright Information
Copyright. This recording was made by Ann Heeley in May 1995. Photograph ©Gordon Walker. For access to full interview please contact the Somerset Heritage Centre.