In July the site will herald in 100 years of operation, and current owner Fonterra is keen to capture the moment in history.
On May 26, a roundtable of retired workers and long-time Stanhope stalwarts gathered to review mystery photos unearthed by Fonterra.
Most of the faces lost in time were named immediately by the group — cheese supplier John Murphy was one, while young Harry Jensen who always visited with a question right when breakfast was being served was another.
The aim was to harness their collective memories (which add up to nearly 430 years) and pin down what happened and when in the lead-up to a big historical display at the 100-year celebration.
The group recalled a worker who drove a red Mercedes with three dogs in the back, when residents could buy petrol and supplies from the factory store, and when their employer used to send them home with a bottle of milk, a pound of cream and cheese.
Fonterra operations manager Steve Taylor said the company wanted to celebrate the centenary by highlighting how well the factory had thrived throughout decades of dairy downturns and multiple recessions.
“The Stanhope factory will never move,” Mr Taylor said.
“The cheesemaking knowledge in town is too valuable, it’s why Fonterra has committed to this site … the only thing which could shut this factory down is if we lose the dairy farmers.”
Fonterra will continue on its fact-finding mission until July 25, when the Stanhope Community Hall hosts a historic display, lunch for former and current workers and a plaque unveiling ceremony.