John Spiller
The City Photo Rooms, 179 Colombo Street, Christchurch, circa 1880 to circa August 1889
94 Oxford Terrace West, Christchurch, circa August 1889 to 1920

above - a view looking towards Oxford Terrace showing the studio of John Spiller.

above and below - the studio of John Spiller, opposite the Cashel Street bridge, about 1920, before the construction of the Bridge of Remembrance. From the Banks of the Avon - The Story of a River by Robert C. Lamb, Reed 1981 

John Spiller (1850 - 21 October 1928) was born in Broadway, Somerset the son of Samuel Spiller, a labourer and Elizabeth Spiller nee Newton. The 1861 census shows the family at Baisleys in Broadway; he was then aged 10 years. In 1871 he is a boarder at Champford Lane, Wellington, Somerset , the house of Edwin Cox, a railway porter. John Spiller is then aged 20 years and employed as a photographer. He then lived for some time at Exeter and later it Tunbridge Wells, Kent.

In 1876 at Tunbridge Wells he married Matilda Sophia Hunt (1854-24 July 1933) the daughter of Matilda and Robert Hunt, a Post Office weight's clerk. Shortly afterwards they left for New Zealand on the "Waimate" travelling as second cabin passengers. They arrived at Lyttelton on 3 September 1877. There were four known children born in New Zealand - Harry Spiller born circa 1878, Walter Spiller born circa 1879, Bertram Spiller born circa 1880 and Leonard Spiller born circa 1883.

For a few years he was engaged as an assistant to the Christchurch photographer Nelson King Cherrill, but entered into business as a photographer on his own account in 1880. For nine years he occupied premises at 179 Colombo Street, opposite the City Hotel.

The Star, Issue 4604, 29 January 1883, Page 2

T. Turner - Seedman and Florist and Kincaid's - Whole and Retail
about 161 Colombo Street, Christchurch
Photo by John Spiller, Photographer, 179 Colombo Street, Christchurch
Fisher Family Archive.

Mr W. (sic) Spiller has a valuable memento of the opening of the Lyttelton dock in the shape of another photograph of the opening, and a remarkably clear photograph too. He was then in business as a photographer, over Jubal Fleming’s, where the old Starland Picture theatre was, and it was at this time that dry plates were first introduced. He had never used a dry plate out of doors, but he took two single slides to Lyttelton, and exposed them during the ceremony to see what the result would be. When the finished picture appeared the manager of the New Zealand Shipping Company was so pleased that he ordered as many copies as could be turned out by the following Wednesday, when the mail left for England. The mate also came up and ordered as many as he could get for himself and members of the crew. The photograph was taken as instantaneously as was possible in those days, by taking the cap off and replacing it immediately. Shutters came in later years. The date of the ceremony was January 3, 1883.

The Star, Saturday May 16, 1925

The Star, Issue 4616, 12 February 1883, Page 2

Please call on J. Spiller, 179 Colombo street, for New Zealand and South Sea Island Views. Portraits from 7s 6d dozen. Houses, &c., photographed, town or country.
The Star , Issue 5733, 25 September 1886, Page 2

The Star, Issue 6559, 30 May 1889, Page 2
(William Sorrell was at 179 Colombo Street in 1894)

The Star, Issue 6618, 8 August 1889, Page 3

In September 1889 he advertised that he had moved to Oxford Terrace West near the Cashel Street Bridge, where he continued to carry on his profession until his retirement in 1920. (he may have taken over the premises of William Sherlock in Oxford Terrace West)

There was brought to this office today a curiosity in the shape of a double egg, that had been laid by a Buff Orpington hen, the property of Mr J. Spiller, photographer. The outer egg was of phenomenal size, being over ten inches in circumference. The inside egg was of the ordinary size, and in no way abnormal.
The Star, Issue 8691, 3 August 1906, Page 2 

The manager of the Burnham Industrial School desires to acknowledge, with thanks, a gift of sweets from Messrs Aulsebrook and Co., a large parcel of Christmas books from Mr J. C. Prudhoe, a large packet of assorted picture postcards from Mr J. Spiller, and donations from Messrs Fletcher, Humphreys and Co. and Mr F. W. Sandlord towards the boys' Christmas treat. 
The Star, Issue 9117, 24 December 1907, Page 2

Press, Volume LVI, Issue 16785, 17 March 1920, Page 12

Press, Volume LVI, Issue 16787, 19 March 1920, Page 10


He died on 21 October 1928 at Christchurch Hospital aged 78 years, he lived at this time at
45 Ward Street, Christchurch. His wife died on 24 July 1933 and they are buried in Sydenham Cemetery, block 28A plot 71.

Mr. John Spiller.
The death of well-known and respected citizen, Mr. John Spiller, took place yesterday at the Christchurch Hospital. He was born at Broadway, Somerset, in 1850 and lived for some time at Exeter and later it Tunbridge Wells, Kent. In 1876 he married a Miss Hunt, of the latter place, and shortly afterwards left with his bride for New Zealand, arriving at Lyttelton in the sailing ship Waimate on September 3rd, 1877. For a few years he was engaged as assistant to a Mr. Cherrill, but entered into business as a photographer on his own account in 1880. For nine years be occupied premises in Colombo street (opposite the City Hotel), and then removed to Oxford terrace, where he continued to carry on his profession until his retirement in 1920.

Mr. Spiller took a keen interest in public affairs, and was a prominent member of several bodies. He was a member of the Canterbury Chess Club for nearly thirty years, being president; during the International Chess Congress held in Christchurch in 1906-07. He was a member of the committee of the club for twenty years, and was made a life member in 1915. A member of the Addington School Committee for many years, he occupied the position of chairman in 1904. He was also a member of the executive of the School Committees’ Association, being its president in 1905, and when he resigned from the Association he was elected a life member. He was one of the original members of the Sydenham Bowling Club when that body was founded in l899, and was for many years on the committee and was president in 1909. In 1922 he was elected a life member. In addition to being on the committee of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals fox a great number of years, he was for some time member of the Philosophical Institute and also of the Industrial Association. 

He leaves a widow and four sons—Harry, of Christchurch, Walter, of Auckland, Bertram, of London and Leonard, of Wellington - to mourn their loss.

In 1887 John Spiller of Ward Street, Addington, photographer, witnessed the marriage of Harriet Emily Spiller the daughter of Samuel Spiller a nurseryman to Robert William Metson.

Spiller - Hide: On June 19, at the Wesleyan Methodist Church, Cargill Road, Dunedin, by the Rev. W. Grigg. Harry, eldest son of J. Spiller, photographer, Christchurch, to Alice Beatrice, youngest daughter of William Hide, Ohoka, Canterbury. North Island papers please copy.- 

Star, Issue 8973, 5 July 1907, Page 3

The City Photo Rooms
Colombo Street, Christchurch 
circa 1880 to circa August 1889




179 Colombo Street, Christchurch



[purchased September 2021]

A photograph copied by John Spiller,
original photographer unknown

94 Oxford Terrace, Christchurch
circa August 1889 to 1920 


Andrina Bootten
born 1887
by John Spiller