Hawes Pier, South Queensferry,
Thank you to John
Smith, Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland, who wrote:
Forth Bridge Backdrop
"I was looking at your site again and came
across this photo from David Parfitt:
Here is a photo
of my Great Grandfather taken
around the same time. It has the same props.
text on the back of the photo, reads:
Hawes Pier, South Queensferry, Edinburgh
Negatives kept. Additional Copies
John Smith, Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland: May
Thank you to Dave, Canada, who also wrote,
sending me this photo from Peter McGill's studio, taken during World War
Dave Donatelli wrote:
Forth Bridge Backdrop
"I have a photo album from WW1 with around 400
images that are named and dated from 1909 to 1920. Here is one of
the photos from the album. It was taken by Peter McGill in November
"The photo is of Private H. Paterson 6th Bn
Black Watch Royal Highlanders who was killed in an accident at Dalmeny
Station. The photo has a Fourth Bridge backdrop. ***
Tommy Byers was the man who gave me his photo
collection back in 1976 at the age of 94. He was a resident in my family's
rest home. Tommy had collected and taken the photos that are in the
collection. I'm trying to find out Private Paterson's first name is if
that is possible."
Dave Donatelli, Abbotsford, British
Columbia Canada: June 17, 2014
*** I've not seen the back of this photo, but I assume that it is a
postcard portrait. The proportions are about right for it to be a
Stubbs: June 17, 2014
Please click on the thumbnail images above to
Peter McGill appears to be the same man as was
mentioned in a message from Bruce Hogg in the EdinPhoto guestbook
Bruce wrote in 2002:
"I'm seeking information on my mother's
great uncle named (Peter?) McGill, who was a worker on the building of
the Forth Rail Bridge. He apparently had the reputation of being the
strongest man on the bridge, and could lift an anvil over his head.
His nickname was "Mad Mick".
After the bridge was finished, he opened a
small photography studio at the Hawes pier, adjacent to the bridge on the
South Queensferry side, and operated there for many years."
Bruce Hogg, Message posted in EdinPhoto guest book, Dec
Thank you to Marie Calder who added:
"There was a studio on Newhalls Road which
belonged to a Peter (?) McGill.
The other photographer in Queensferry was
William Bain but he didn't seem to have a studio. He lived in Church
Place and either worked from there or went to his clients.
We are not sure how long they were in
Marie Calder, Queensferry History Group, May 13,2010
Thanks Marie. These are the Queensferry
photographers that I have discovered to date:
Thank you to Marie Calder who added:
"I have just found out that Peter
McGill died in 1916."
Marie Calder, Queensferry History Group, May 20 ,2010.
Thank you to Bruce Hogg for writing again about the
dates when the Queensferry photographer, Peter McGill was in business.
Bruce sent me this message about 11 years after
writing his Comments 1 above.
Peter McGill's Studio
"Very recently, I was sent a copy of an
account that my now deceased mother wrote a few years ago. In it, she
included these comments about her maternal grandfather, photographer
It would seem that Peter McGill's studio
was in operation until after the end of WW1, given the reference to
her father working in the studio.
Given the still relative newness of the
Forth Bridge, I would assume the backdrop would still have been a
popular one, in fact possibly the most popular, so the date could be
much later than 1890."
My Mother's Account
"For a time we lived at South Queensferry
where my Grandfather McGill owned a photographer’s business
Originally he had worked on construction
of the Forth Bridge as a skilled engineer.
He was reputed to be the strongest man on
the site. It was said that he could lift the blacksmith’s anvil
(about two cwt) above his head.
My Dad looked after the shop for a time as
he was unable to earn a living wage at his own trade. He was a skilled
journeyman tailor. Until the war, he had been employed by William
Anderson and Sons, Military Tailors, in Edinburgh. They made Officers’
Between the wars the demand was low, but
from 1939 onwards it grew at a great pace and my father returned to
the work of his choice."
Bruce Hogg, Message posted in EdinPhoto guest book, Nov
South Queensferry, Edinburgh
Thank you to Frank Hay for sending me these photos of his lantern
slide of Hawes Pier and The Forth Bridge at South Queensferry, showing
Peter McGill's studio beside the lighthouse on Hawes Pier:
Magic Lantern Slides
"I came across this George
Washington Wilson magic
lantern glass slide of the Forth Bridge.
Looking at dated photos
of the Forth Bridge, I believe the magic lantern slide is
late-1889. The slide is quite high resolution and a
photographer's booth can be seen on the Hawes Pier to the right of
the lighthouse. Could this be
Peter McGill's studio?
Photo 2 reveals that the
booth advertises: "Forth Bridge Photographs" and "Latest Views".
Photos of the Forth Bridge appear to be displayed beside the door.
"I've wondered why a
photographer would have had a studio on the Hawes Pier and why use
a painted backdrop of the Forth Bridge.
Looking at this photo,
all is explained: he could easily take 'latest views' from his
studio His customers would be tourists viewing the bridge,
ferry users and the many naval staff using the pier; and, as he
started work before the bridge was finished, using an artist's
impression of the finished bridge would be popular.
"This John Gordon photo
that you display of
The crew of HMS Columbine, taken in his studio, shows how
small and cramped the studio was.
Is this photo using
daylight at either side? Has it been taken in the
'shooting box' listed in the Valuation Rolls below?
Valuation Rolls for 1905, have the following:
MACGILL; PETER; STUDIO TENANTS ERECTION
Tenant Occupier; MACGILL; PETER; SITE OF STUDIO
Tenant Occupier; MACGILL;
PETER; SHOOTING BOX
Peter McGill's studio in
Newhalls Road is listed in the Valuation Rolls up to 1920 but not
1925. I could not find him in the 1895 roll although there
is a "refreshment room there."
Frank Hay, South Queensferry, Edinburgh: July