Ellen Yeld MBE of Kimbolton

Ellen Yeld was born at Endale in Kimbolton. The daughter of Edward and Mary Yeld. Endale Farm was part of the Berrington Estate belonging to Lord Rodney, which was purchased by Lord Cawley at the end of the 19th Century. Edward Yeld had travelled extensively in his youth. On a trip to Chicago he witnessed the expansion of the beef industry in America and the need for good breeding stock. On his marriage to Mary they took the tenancy of Endale and began to breed Hereford Cattle and Shire Horses. Edward had great success with his horses and began exporting Hereford Cattle. Their first son Thomas was born in 1883, their second son Edward died in infancy.

Edward became a Town Councillor in Leominster. 

He frequently walked to the town across the fields and over the old canal cutting and railway line. Often in the dark, as he knew his land well. In 1901 it was reported that he hitched a lift for a very short distance on the back of a train truck passing down the line. He fell under the wheels and due to his injury, his leg was amputated at Leominster Hospital. He never recovered from the operation and died at the young age of forty-eight. 

Mary was left to bring up the family and manage the farm. After a few years she moved to Little Hereford with her daughters Ellen, Ann and Lucy. Ellen had acquired all the skills of the dairy to help support the family.

She became the Chief Dairy Instructress for the County of Hereford in 1917. She was awarded the M.B.E. in that year for her service to the Dairy Industry during the time of austerity in the first world war.

In 1919 the Orphans printing press in Leominster published a 52- page book written by Ellen, entitled “Practical Cheese making for Smallholders, Farmers and Others” which ran to five editions. She continued to give demonstrations and advice throughout her life. 

Her contribution to the dairy industry was invaluable particularly during both world wars, when cheese was an essential part of the nation’s ration. 

Ellen was married for 45 years to Alan Stewart McWilliam. She is buried with him in Kimbolton Churchyard. The gravestone records her life from 1879 to 1964 and recognises her place in history as an ‘indefatigable worker for Women’s Institutes in Derbyshire’ where she lived for most of her married life. 


In more recent times

 In 1996 Mark and Karen Hindle resurrected Ellen’s original recipe. “Little Hereford” is now made at Monkland Cheese Dairy. Mark describes it as a simple small holder cheese, intended to be made with excess milk produced on the farm. It is a full flavoured hard cheese matured in four months. The flavour is half way between a Caerphilly and a Cheddar. The Dairy also sells “Little Hereford” as a smoked cheese. Smoked in the Black Mountain Smokery for 24 hrs over oak chips.

Written by Joyce M