Mill Magazine: five years of flying the flag for Renfrewshire
Mill Magazine celebrates five years of flying the flag for Renfrewshire, from its early beginnings to the present day
As the September/October 2023 issue of Mill Magazine marks our fifth anniversary, it seems only fitting to reflect back on that half a decade and where it’s brought us. Here, our long-serving editor, Robert Blair, tells the story of a little concept that grew arms and legs.
It started from a tiny, seemingly small idea. Having newly adopted Paisley as a hometown after starting a family here, the Edinburgh-born-and-bred Paul Dickson was growing increasingly frustrated with the negativity he would encounter when discussing Renfrewshire with locals.
So he thought it’d be a good idea to create a guide to all of the good things that the area had going for it. Across tourist locations and hotspots for culture and dining, he soon realised that there was too much going on here to fit into a singular brochure.
With that, the seeds of Mill Magazine were planted and over time it has morphed into the area’s premier culture and lifestyle title. Initially, we started out with 5,000 magazines and 50 distribution points, with the idea of a magazine promoting Renfrewshire inspiring scepticism among a lot of business owners.
In a lot of ways, this was understandable. After all, you only need to talk to Paul for a minute to realise that he’s about as west coast as the Forth Road Bridge or salt and sauce on a chippy, so is he just here to profiteer on local trade and pocket the money for himself? Well, if you’ve ever encountered the designer and owner of our humble title, you’ll know that there is no one who wants Renfrewshire to prosper quite as much as Paul does.
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Armed with an unwavering enthusiasm and genuine passion for the area, Paul’s drive to see Renfrewshire flourish comes from wanting his kids to grow up in a place that isn’t only great, but acknowledges the merits that it has.
When I came aboard four years ago, I was just a young writer from Foxbar, plying his trade in music. I was obviously immensely proud of the area that I was brought up in. After all, it was the home of generations of my family. From Hollows Crescent to Mannering Road and Auchentorlie Quadrant in Seedhill, both sides of my DNA have called Renfrewshire home since at least the early 20th century.
But, I will admit that like many people in the town, I was accustomed to noticing the negatives, rather than singing the praises of the positive. Mill Magazine changed all that and now, it gives me great pride to wick away at the internal stigma that resides in the hearts and minds of too many of us in Renfrewshire, issue by issue.
“Without the interest from you, this magazine would’ve sputtered out of existence long ago”
Since the time of that first issue, the magazine has grown exponentially. Initially, it started out with 5,000 magazines and 50 distribution points. Now, we print 6,000 magazines and have over 180 distribution points, with an estimated readership of 18,000+ per issue.
Along the way, we’ve interviewed musicians, artists, comedians, designers, athletes, actors and everyone in-between. Far be it from us to just focus on famous alumni of the town, we’ve also worked extensively with local businesses, shining a spotlight on the stories that led them to their career paths and the heartening sentiments that help them to get up, day in, day out, to put in a shift.
In addition to commerce, community is at the very forefront of the magazine and as a result, a massive number of column inches in every issue is devoted to providing much needed publicity to the causes of charities, fundraising groups and other non-profit organisations.
Across Ferguslie, Johnstone, Linwood, Elderslie, Howwood, Kilbarchan, Bridge of Weir and anywhere in between, there’s nothing we love more than providing a voice to those with an admirable cause and something to say.
Courtesy of Renfrewshire’s ongoing cultural revolution, we have also reaped the benefits of coming of age at a time when creativity is abundant and it gives us great pleasure to document it all in its many shapes and sizes.
Above all, we couldn’t do any of this without you, the reader. Without the interest from you, this magazine would’ve sputtered out of existence long ago. Make no mistake, this isn’t something we do for money. We take what we need from advertising to cover costs and the rest goes into finding new ways that we can explore this wonderful, anomalous area that we call Renfrewshire.
Each issue requires an immense amount of work from our core team and without passion and genuine love, as well as the support of both our loved ones and the area in general, it would be an impossibility.
So, from the bottom of our hearts, thank you for letting us be the people to tell Renfrewshire’s stories. Thank you to anyone who’s picked up a copy, told a friend about it, handed it out in their business or even momentarily flicked through it when they had a moment or two to kill.
As long as you keep picking them up, we’ll keep producing them.
Love, The Mill Team