Edinburgh Photographers

William Swanston


A Swanston


William Swanston

William Swanston was listed in the Edinburgh & Leith trade directories, having a studios at 302 Leith Walk, from 1896 until 1930.

I knew nothing more about this photographer until Maggie Dunlop emailed me in February 2006.  Maggie tells me that William Swanston was her great-grandfather's nephew.

Maggie wrote:


"William Swanston born on 8 January 1857 in Earlston in  the Scottish Borders.  He was the illegitimate son of  Isabella  Swanston and Wm Moffat (Mason Foreman) whom she later married. 

William was brought up by his grandparents, (my gt-gt-grandparents) David Swanston and Charlotte Thorburn,  in Earlston."

Pipe Maker then Photographer

"In 1881 he was living in Leith, working as a lead pipe maker when he married Helen Sutherland who was born in Australia (Hobart, Tasmania). They had 4 children.

The 1891 Census shows him still working as a lead pipe maker but around the mid 1890s he was a Professional Photographer with a business at 302 Leith Walk.

In 1901 he is shown as a Photographer and his son John Alexander Swanston then 17 had joined him as a photographer. His other son William Henderson Swanston aged 19 is shown as a Photo Mech. in Aberdeen."


Thank you to Dr Janda Goodling, Senior Curator of Art, Australian War Memorial, Canberra, ACT, Australia who wrote:

"I had been searching for information about a photographer - W H Swanston - who worked with the Australians on Gallipoli in 1919 and today found William Henderson Swanston mentioned on your site!!

I knew he was most likely from Scotland so what a terrific match up!

The Australian War Memorial has a great many photographs by William Henderson Swanston in its collection."

Dr Janda Goodling, Canberra, ACT, Australia:   September 19, 2008


William's Death

"William died 5 September 1921 age from cancer of the pancreas.

I don’t know if either son carried on for any length of time in the Photography field. The Edinburgh & Leith PO Directory 1950/51 Page 478 shows a Miss E M Swanston at 302 Leith Walk but I don't know if it was still a Photographers or if she was simply living in a flat there.  The actual street index in the directory doesn't give anything for no 302."

Maggie Dunlop, near Selkirk, Borders, Scotland:  February 22, 2007


A Swanston

Here is a photograph of  ninety-one employees so JP Cochrane, golf club manufacturers, outside their premises at Murano Place, Leith.

The photographer's name on this photo is A Swanston, Pilrig Studio, Leith.

Ninety-one employees of JP Cochrane, golf club manufacturers outside their premises at Murano Street, Pilrig ©


Was A Swanston related to William Swanston (above)?

Was Pilrig Studio, Leith, the same studio as William Swanston's studio at 302 Leith Walk?


Photographs in Exhibitions  1839 to 1865

Link to Photographic Exhibitions web site
with facility to search by photographer

Photographs exhibited

Other Edinburgh Photographers


Ivan Szabo




The Grange Cemetery, Edinburgh

Ivan Sjabo's Gravestone at The Grange Cemetery, Edinburgh

©  Reproduced by courtesy of Alan Wilson



Ivan Szabo

Photographs of Talbot

Talbot:  “Hair Down, Collar Up”

 Talbot:   “Hair Up, Collar Down"

Talbot  -  Hair up, Collar down

©  Both photos reproduced from the National Museum of Photography Film, and Television 
by courtesy of the Science and Society Picture Library.   Click here for link to web site.


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