Professional Photographers

Peter McGill

Hawes Pier, South Queensferry, Edinburgh

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:

Studio Portrait of two men with a backdrop of the Forth Bridge ©

Here is a photo of my Great Grandfather taken around the same time. It has the same props.

Studio portrait by Peter McGill, South Queensferry, with a backdrop of the Forth Bridge ©

The text on the back of the photo, reads:



Hawes Pier, South Queensferry, Edinburgh


Negatives kept.  Additional Copies 1/- each

John Smith, Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland:  May 9, 2010

Thank you to  Dave, Canada, who also wrote, sending me this photo from Peter McGill's studio, taken during World War I.

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 1914."

Photo of Private Paterson with a Forth Bridge Bckdrop  -  taken by Peter McGill in 1914 ©

Private Paterson

"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 postcard.   Peter Stubbs:  June 17, 2014

Please click on the thumbnail images above to enlarge them.




Bruce Hogg

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 18, 2002.




Marie Calder

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 business."

Marie Calder, Queensferry History Group,  May 13,2010

Thanks Marie.  These are the Queensferry photographers that I have discovered to date:

Queensferry Photographers


Peter McGill

Hawes Pier


Charles Sanders

Hawes Pier


James Lamb



Bill Bain

The Loan

or later

Bill Bain

East Terrace




Marie Calder

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.




Bruce Hogg

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.

Bruce wrote:

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 Peter McGill.

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."

Extract form

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’ uniforms

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 24, 2013



Frank Hay

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:

   Photograph of the Forth Rail Bridge under construction in the 1880s  -  by John Patrick ©        Photograph of the Forth Rail Bridge under construction in the 1880s  -  by John Patrick ©

Frank wrote:

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.

Painted Backdrop

 "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.

Group Photo

"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.

   HMS Columbine - probably photogrraphed somewhere in the Firth of Forth ©

Is this photo using daylight at either side?  Has it been taken in the 'shooting box' listed in the Valuation Rolls below?

Scotland's People, Valuation Rolls for 1905, have the following:





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 9, 2015


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