Edinburgh World Heritage - News Article


Archive Anecdotes

Snippets from the city's archives

Mar 31, 2014


One hundred years ago, on 1st April 1914, a meeting of the Edinburgh Photographic Society was cancelled because of the untimely death of an esteemed Edinburgh photographer who had been due to deliver a lecture. This was Frank Pelham Moffat who, from 1894, was the senior partner in the  firm, John Moffat of Princes Street, and a popular speaker on the international photographic lecture circuit.

Photos courtesy of EdinPhoto:












Frank studied photography in France and joined his father’s business in 1875. He was so well regarded that he was elected President of the Professional Photographers' Association of Great Britain in 1911, and was twice President of Edinburgh Photographic Society.

His work was innovative. He is believed to be the first practitioner of wet plate photographic processing in Scotland and was an early user of electric lamps in his studio. He was also a painter whose portraits, drawn in charcoal and finished in oil, were based on small photographs. As illustrated on the reverse of his ‘cartes de visites’, the business won many awards including first prize in the 1895 Cadett International Competition.

His death was linked to a major Edinburgh event in the spring of 1914. He caught “a bad chill” while photographing the opening of the Usher Hall in Edinburgh in early March and, after a very brief illness, died on 19 March 1914, probably of pneumonia. The Moffat family studio continued in business in Princes Street until 1962.

No copies of his Usher Hall photos are known to have survived but, marking the Usher Hall’s centenary, the City of Edinburgh’s Capital Collections has an extensive exhibition of others' images.

Further information on both John and Frank Moffat can also be obtained courtesy of Historic Camera.


 Information sourced courtesy of EdinPhoto, Historic Camera and Capital Collections.

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