50 years ago this week: Friday, March 23, 1962

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FARMING, fishing and the tourist trade are the main industries on Holy Island but on Saturday the 150 islanders saw another added – the manufacture of mead.

The four directors of the latest venture literally rolled out the barrel to cater for the 100 guests they had invited to the official opening which was performed by Mr George Chetwynd, director of the North East Development Council.

The man behind the new scheme, which is expected to provide employment for about 12 people, is bearded 30-year-old Mr J Michael Hackett, a former member of the Fleet Air Arm.

He claims that within five years his Lindisfarne Mead Company, which has a capital of £10,000, will be producing 7,000 gallons of mead a week, and that the company’s product will be exported among other places to Scandinavia, whose vikings reintroduced the drink into this country more than 1,000 years ago.

He added that already inquiries had been received from New York City in America.

But because it takes a year to produce, the first mead liqueur will not be on sale until next summer.

The first bottle is being sent to the Queen.

“Her Majesty’s private secretary has written to say she will be delighted to accept the gift which will remind her of her visit to Holy Island and the Farnes,” said Sir John Craster, one of the directors, at the opening ceremony.

Speaking in the company’s new winery – named after Aidan, the Northumbrian saint – Mr Chetwynd said that the manufacture of mead went back to the time of the viking invasions of England and that the firm was making an important contribution to putting Holy Island and the North East on the development map.

Holy Island, he said, was now the second place in Britain to make mead.