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The mill cartoonist

Don Paterson was a prominent figure in the mill world, a widely respected man with a talent for wit and capturing a joke within a small cartoon. In 1982 he founded the North West Mills group along with our own Mildred Cookson, where he sat as chairman. Just reading through the early newsletters his passion for mills and their preservation is clear. Mr Paterson frequently sketched little cartoons based on the trials and tribulations of a miller’s life, many of which we have in the Archive. Here are a few to take a look at!

Poster Image

This particular cartoon is my personal favourite, showing the switch from old to new, and their potential clashes. You can see the traditional miller using wind power to grind his grain, complete with a stalk of wheat in his mouth! The modern ‘miller’ is there using solar power to fuel his mill. The exchange between the pair demonstrates Mr Paterson’s talent for quick witted humour!

You can see the second cartoon is a funny portrayal of the dangers of milling and its associated tasks. The ‘millwright’ is adhering to safety rules with a rope to secure him, while the ‘millwrong’ looks rather grumpy and probably regrets his disregard for health and safety!

Finally we have a cartoon of birds making themselves at home on a windmill’s sails! I can imagine it must have been quite irritating for a miller to constantly have birds trying to perch on the sweeps.

Most of Mr Paterson’s cartoons use simple humour and aren’t too technical: they can be understood by anyone with just a little bit of mill knowledge. It is a talent to be able to make such a specialist area available for the interest of anyone, and I hope these cartoons can interest more people in the world of mills!