John Lees  -  T Lees  -  William Lees

Studio Photographs

The Lees family were professional photographers who worked at Bath Street, Portobello, for sixty years from 1892. 

Below are two photos taken in William Lees' studio.  I have also been told (at a Portobello History Group Meeting in June 2009) that William E Lees was one of the Portobello photographers who had a stuffed donkey in his studio.

The post card below shows a studio boat against a backdrop of the Forth Bridge.  William Lees also produced cabinet prints featuring boat and bridge.

Post Card

Post Card Portrait  -  William Lees

  Copyright: For permission to reproduce, please contact peter.stubbs@edinphoto.org.uk


Here is a photograph of three brothers, taken in Lees studio in the mid 1920s.  The brothers were born 1913, 1920 and c.1922.  

The photographer's address on the back of this photo is:  William Lees,  23 Bath Street, Portobello.

Larger Photograph

Photograph taken in Lees studio, Portobello

  Reproduced by courtesy of Denis Slattery

Several photographers, including Hill & Adamson photographed fishwives at Newhaven or Fisherrow

Other photographers kept fishwives' costumes for their clients to be photographed in.

William Lees appears to have had a cardboard cut-out of a fishwife for his clients to stand behind.


Photograph taken in Lees studio, Portobello

  Reproduced with acknowledgement to David Millan, London

David Milan, now living in London, tells me that the photograph is of his great aunt, Marion Wear Alexander (1886-1976), and that printed on the back of the photo is:

Lees Photographer

23 Bath Street, Portobello

No 5910 (written in pencil)

William Lees, T Lees then John Lees had a studio at 23 Bath Street from 1898 until 1952.  When might this photograph have been taken?

David added:

Big Game Hunters

"Marion Wear Alexander was the second wife of Walter Edward Simpkins (c.1851-1937)

He was a curer of leather.  He used to accompany big game hunters on their trips to Africa and elsewhere and preserve the hides of the shot animals.

Fishwife Photograph

"I can remember, as a child in the 50's, seeing this picture of Marion on display in my grandmother's cabinet in her flat in 4 Dundee Place [now long gone] and always thinking it a bit strange!!

Now I can sit in the [new] cinema at Fountain Park and tell my wife that we are sitting where my grannie's back green used to be!!"

David Millan, London:  August 7 + August 15, 2006





Maurice Sullivan

New Jersey, USA

Thank you to Maurice Sullivan for sending me one of his family photos, produced from the Lees studio in Portobello.

Maurice wrote:

The Lees Studio

"I noted with interest on your site that Lees studio had a stuffed donkey.   Here is a photo from my family history:



The Duncan Family
Aunt Maggie, Grandad and Granny Duncan

   Photograph from Lees' studio, Portobello  -  Members of the Duncan family

  Reproduced with acknowledgement to Maurice Sullivan



The back of the Duncan Family photo

   The back of a photograph from Lees' studio, Portobello  -  Members of the Duncan family

  Reproduced with acknowledgement to Maurice Sullivan

From left to right ... Maggie Duncan (my grandfathers daughter), William Duncan (my grandfather 1880-1973) and his wife Barbara Duncan (my grandmother 1895-1983).

On the rear of the photo, the hand writing is my mothers.  You can still clearly see Lees and the address.  I don't know when it was taken."

Maurice Sullivan, New Jersey, USA:  13 + 14 April 2016 and 7 Dec 2016

Thank you, Maurice. 

In fact, according to the trade directories,  there were Lees  studios at 23 Bath Streets for over 50 years

-  1898-1919**    William Lees

-  1920-1952      John Lees

** In fact the Trade Directories gave a studio address of 23 Bath Street (1898-1914) and 23c Bath Street (1905-1919).  However, I expect that both '23' and '23c' would be referring to the same studio.

Your photo  above looks to me likely to have been taken by William Lees in the early 1900s.

Peter Stubbs, Edinburgh:  14 April 2016



 William Lees


Studio Addresses

William Lees had studios at:


There was also a William Lees who became a member of Edinburgh Photographic Society in the season 1890-91.  He gave his address as 10 East Richmond Street.  Is this likely to have been the same photographer as above?

Cartes de Visite

I have not seen the studio at 10 East Richmond Street listed in any of the trade directories, but I have seen 2 William Lees cartes de visite bearing this address.  When might this studio have operated?

The portraits of the lady and the man both have the same style of back as below, giving the '10 East Richmond Street' address and advertising William Lees as:

 'Portrait, Group and Architectural Photographer.'

A carte de visite from the studio of William Lees   The back of a carte de visite from the studio of William Lees           A carte de visite from the studio of William Lees   The back of a carte de visite from the studio of William Lees

Lees Studio  -  Bath Street

Lees Studio  -  Bath Street, Portobello

Please click on this image to enlarge it


Question 1

Question 1

William Lees advertised:  Also at Bathville.  

Where was Bathville? 

When did he have a studio in Bathville?


Answer 1

Answer 1

Many thanks to Archie Foley, Secretary, Portobello History Society for supplying the answer below.

Archie wrote:


"This puzzled me for some time. There is a Bathville that was once a mining hamlet but is now an industrial estate at Armadale and I saw a reference to an area with this name in the 19th century near Falkirk. I never thought either was likely to be connected with Lees and I should have got the answer much sooner than I did.

Bathville was the name of his large villa in its own grounds on the east side of  Bath Street and it is shown on the large scale OS map of Portobello. The area is now occupied by a Bingo hall."

Archie Foley, Joppa, Edinburgh



Question 2

Archie Foley, Joppa, Edinburgh, has send me this photo by Lees.  He wonders where and when it was taken and who the subject might be.

Please click on the thumbnail image below to enlarge it.

Postcard by Lees, 23 Bath Street, Portobello  -  Tobacconist  -  where?


Lees - Carte de Visite

Bath Street Studio

Other Photographers