AN ICE cream brand that started as a way for two dairy farmers to avoid falling foul of milk quotas has marked its 30th anniversary.

Purbeck Ice Cream is now sold internationally and more than a million litres a year are produced from its base at Kingston, near Wareham.

Thirty years ago, its creators Peter and Hazel Hartle were running a 60-Friesian dairy herd on 126 acres opposite the remains of Corfe Castle, while raising three children aged two or under.

With the introduction of milk quotas, they found it impossible to keep the farm viable. They looked for a use that would not result in penalties for over-production or replicate anything already being done locally.

The family loved going on “ice cream crawls” and aimed to make something better than they had come across. The couple took turns milking and skimming some of the milk for double cream to make ice cream.

One of them would drive a van containing a chest freezer to deliver locally.

Mrs Hartle said: “We did dairy farming and ice cream production together for around six years.”

After the business took off, the couple left farming and used milk from other Purbeck herds.

The business now employs 20 people and the Hartles say they have no plans to sell.

Mrs Hartle said: “I always say that if we spend more time working than playing, why can’t we amalgamate the two? If you can have fun at work, why not?”

As well as local milk, the ice cream uses Dorset cream and natural local ingredients, as well as British waffle cones. The couple say they only source from outside Purbeck if they cannot find the right ingredients of good quality locally.

The ice cream contains no gluten, all natural flavours and no egg. It is suitable for vegetarians and for Halal use, except for the alcoholic flavours.

As well as going to wholesalers, the ice cream is sold by airlines, on P&O cruises and in restaurants. “They help us through the winter time,” said Mrs Hartle, who keeps 16 staff on all year round.

“I can’t be doing with people who take people on in the summer, use and abuse them and get rid of them in winter. We needed to find sales for winter time as well as summer.”

‘Pasteurising queen’ Sandy Stockley has been with the business since the beginning. Sales director Patrick Ward started as a delivery driver 23-24 years ago.

The anniversary was celebrated with a party for everyone who has been involved with the business.