Ernest Carver: Every Picture Tells a Story

The Railway Inn and Ruskin Studio, 1898 taken by Ernest Carver.

Every Picture Tells a Story 

An Inn and a photographic studio have been stood at the bottom of Station Hill in Bridgend for 120 years.
The name of the in – the Railways – has remained unchanged and the photographic studio has changed hands only four times in that time being owned by Carver for a total of 76 years.

The studio was built next to the Railway Inn by the innkeeper Mr. J. W Telling in 1863 and was little more than a large wooden hut.

The first change of ownership came when Mr. Telling sold the studio to Messrs A. and C. Taylor, well known in the photographic field in South Wales.

It changed hands again in 1904 when it was bought by Mr. Ernest Carver – a name synonymous with photography in Bridgend.


In fact from 1912 it became something of a family tradition to be photographed by Carver.

In the early days of the studio most photographs were taken during daylight and exposures ranged from one to two seconds but when photographers began to instal artificial lighting – it became fashionable to have one’s photograph taken in the evening.

In those days too, retouching came into play because of the inadequate colour rendering of photographic emulsions. Retouching became not only a necessity but an art.


We Mr. Carver took over the business in 1904 he renamed it Ruskin Studio. The reason behind his decision to call it by this name is generally known. It was, in fact, because of a quotation by 19th century author John Ruskin which held special appeal for him – “When love and skill work together, expect a masterpiece.”

An interesting feature of the Ruskin Studio in the days of Mr. Carver senior was the old combustion stove.
The stove itself was nothing out of the ordinary but what made it interesting was the fact that it became the focal point for a large number of local businessmen who met for gossip and discussion. In fact for many years the Ruskin Studio was known as the town’s cultural centre.

A photograph of my great-great grandmother
taken by Ernest Carver at Ruskin Studio

When Mr. Carver died in 1938 his son Ernie returned from London to carry on the business.
He served abroad as a photographer with the R.A.F in the second World War and during his four years absence the business was left in the hands of his wife..
In 1963, in its centenary, the old building was deemed to have seen better times, was demolished and replaced by the present modern structure.

When Ernie Carver died in 1980 the business was bought by former press photographer Clive Girton who has retained the named connected with the studio for more than three quarters of a century – Carvers.

(Source: Glamorgan Gazette, 1983!)

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