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Mildred writes about Chinese milling for “Milling & Grain”

Hello everyone! As some of you may already know, our very own Mildred Cookson writes regular articles in the ‘Milling and Grain’ magazine on behalf of the Mills Archive. The magazine is published by Perendale Publishers, which is an Archive Patron, so being able to contribute some of our findings and interests to the magazine is a really rewarding way for the Mills Archive to show the world what we’ve got!

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Mildred has recently written a fascinating article titled ‘A Flour Mill in China’ as part of her ‘Milling around the World’ pieces. Mildred describes how she found information about the mill in an old edition of The Weekly Northwestern Miller dated all the way back to November 4th, 1903 in which Kingsland Smith documents a ‘typical Chinese mill’ he came across when he travelled to Tsingtua (Qindao) in China.

Before I give you a sneak peek at what Mildred has written, here is some Mill speak for you: Catty means a pound and a half. Smith records how the mill was able to produce three catties of bran an hour.

Mildred has used Smith’s findings to tell us how both the wheat and the oil mill was used. Mildred describes the strenuous process of how the miller would slam a long sieve back and forth to grind the wheat, referring to the miller’s process as ‘his own private gym!’ Mildred describes in great detail the process of producing bran and oil in the mills and I was shocked to learn that the stones were made from granite at $10 a set! I doubt you’d be able to find granite at that price nowadays!

I don’t want to spoil the article for you but I will mention a funny story that goes alongside the stunning black and white photos scattered throughout the article. Even though it was common for animals such as donkeys to move the giant grind stones, you’ll notice there are none in any of the photos. Mildred explains that this was because when Smith tried to take a photo of the donkey pulling the stone, it wouldn’t keep its head still so he had to abandon the idea altogether!

Before I go, I just wanted to leave you with something to ponder. Mildred mentions that the job of milling in China was usually the duty of the women in the village and I thought that was really interesting when you compare it to England, where most documentation refers to the ‘miller’ as a man.

Once again, thanks so much to Mildred for providing us with another fantastic article. This demonstrates the Mills Archive as an international archive that is interested in mills from all over the world. As Mildred says, ‘These articles are only a brief glimpse of the several million records held by the Mills Archive Trust.’

Also thank you to Perendale Publishers for allowing the Archive to write regularly for them and in doing so, fulfil the Archive’s vision of spreading history and valuable knowledge of mills to the public!