Alexander Ayton junior

Edinburgh Studios


Comments in BJP


John Nicol, in his 'Notes from the North' published in the British Journal of Photography gave an account of Alexander Ayton's arrival in Edinburgh from Londonderry.   [BJP:  28 Jan 1876, p.42]

Nicol wrote:

Notes from the North

"Notwithstanding the general complaint of dullness in the photographic trade there are still some who have faith enough to cast their bread upon photographic waters in the hope of getting an ample return.

We have, in Edinburgh, a good example of this in an establishment recently opened in one of the most centrally-situated parts of the city by Mr Ayton, who has been a successful photographer in Londonderry for many years;  and, if I may judge from the specimens of work which he has brought with him, I should say his success is not by any means undeserved."

"The site on which Mr Ayton's establishment is erected has been occupied by several professional photographers in succession for many years;  but as the old buildings were taken down and a new "flat" built, he had the opportunity of constructing it according to his own fancy.

Mr Ayton has certainly shown not only good taste, but also a thorough knowledge of the requirements of a large business, and much consideration for the comfort of his clientele."

"The studio has certainly one disadvantage in the fact that it can only be reached by climbing three flights of stairs; but where really high class work is done, those requiring it will probably not object to the ascent.

The Reception Room, which is at the top of a second flight of stairs is elegantly furnished, and plentifully supplied with specimens of Mr Ayton's productions in various styles and sizes, nearly the whole of the small pictures being highly glazed or enamelled by a process of his own.

Probably the most attractive feature of the room is a number of very fine enlargements of such excellent quality, artistically, as to show that he is much more than a mere photographer, and so perfect in manipulation that they defy even an expert to say whether they are enlargements or direct pictures."

"Mr Ayton informed me that he intends to confine himself solely to carbon printing;  and, to enable him to do that to the best advantage he has bought the exclusive right to use the various Lambert patents in Edinburgh and neighbourhood, but does not seem to have made up his mind as to whether he will keep the good things all to himself or will grant a licenses to others in the city.

I think Mr Ayton deserves credit for being the first in Scotland to go exclusively for carbon, and hope an appreciative public will reward him by giving him a fair share of patronage.

I may add that, amongst several novelties that Mr Ayton kindly showed me in his laboratory and studio, there was in operation one of the geysers so highly spoken of by Mr Jabez Hughes, and I fully endorse all the latter has said in its favour.  It is a piece of apparatus which no well-appointed photographic laboratory should be without."

[BJP:  28 Jan 1876, p.42]




1 Hanover Street


Alexander Ayton was one of many photographers to be based at 1 Hanover Street, opposite the Royal Institution, and remained there for five years, describing his studio as "Ayton's New Photographic Art Studio."  

He started his photographic business in Edinburgh as

"Artist; Miniatures on ivory; artistic photo-portraiture". 

He advertised his exclusive right to use the Patented Processes of Mr Lambert of Paris, for Edinburgh and Neighbourhood, enabling him to execute Portraits of all descriptions in permanent pigments, and  advertised:  "By Appointment to His Excelency the Lord Lieutenant."

1876, Advert

"These pictures are superior to the best silver prints, both as regards Artistic Effect and softness; and they have moreover the long-wished-for advantage of undergoing no change, either through adverse atmospheric influence or time, and may be obtained on equally favourable terms as those by the existing method .

They are also particularly applicable for Enlarging and Finishing.

Instantaneous Pictures of children in superior manner; also for Copying, Enlarging and Improving Old, Faded and Inferior Photographs of Deceased Relatives and Friends."





Bruntsfield Place


The Ayton studio at Bruntsfield Place opened in 1881.  It was eleven years later, when Edinburgh hosted the Photographic Convention of the United Kingdom, that members of the photographic press visites some of the Edinburgh photographic studios, including Alexander Ayton's studio at Bruntsfield Place.

 Here's what they wrote.

Here is the account that appeared in the British Journal of Photography:

 British Journal of Photography

"The premises of Alexander Ayton jun, in 1892, included a showroom, studios, darkroom and an engine room with a seven horse-power engine. 

He produced some large platinotype exhibition prints, for which he was highly praised in Glasgow and won a Medal in Edinburgh. 

He gave lectures to EPS between 1882 and 1892 on Enamelling, fixing of Silver Plates, Transferotype Bromide Paper, Enlarging from Kodak Negatives, Platinotype Printing and Flashlight Photography.

Alexander Ayton died in 1894 when he was EPS President.  It was reported that the EPS Secretary saw him at 1pm on 23 November 1894, in apparently good health and spirits, and at 5.30 the same day whilst busy preparing for his holiday trip, he suddenly expired.

The company continued to trade under the name Alexander Ayton until 1940.

[BJP:1892 p548]  


The correspondent in The Practical Photographer, on 1 April 1892, commented on several of the studios in Central Edinburgh.  He referred to Alex Ayton  whom he described as another good worker.

 He wrote:

The Practical Photographer

"Mr Ayton has added the electric light to his studio (since December).  This is enterprise in a word.

He shows some beautiful platinotype prints, one grand print in a silver filigree frame - a regular medal taker."




Edinburgh Addresses


1  Hanover Street 


43  North Bruntsfield Place


42,43  North Bruntsfield Place


42,43  Bruntsfield Place



Ayton Photographers

More Pages

Alexander Ayton Sen
 and family

Alexander Ayton Sen + Alexander Ayton Jun + family      

Londonderry Studios

    Photograph taken around 1900 of Ayton Studio at Shipquay Place, Londonderry

Which Alexander Ayton?

Alexander Ayton Jun
and family

Alexander Ayton jun.  -  Edinburgh professional photographer     Alexander Ayton's wife and eight of his children

Edinburgh studios      family     lectures

enamelling + dry plates    cabinet prints

bazaar        cricket            rugby          

cdv 1- 5      cdv 6-12           death

Edinburgh, Leith, Portobello

Glass Plates


   Platinotype photo from the studio of Alex Ayton, Bruntsfield, Edinburgh


Photographic Convention - 1892

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