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 was 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. 
New Zealand
1877 - 1928
Shortly after their marriage John and Matilda left for New Zealand on the "Waimate" travelling as second cabin passengers arriving at Lyttelton on 3 September 1877. 
Assistant to 
Nelson King Cherrill
July 1877 - August 1881
In Christchurch, John Spiller was employed by the photographer Nelson King Cherrill with whom he had been previously employed in Tunbridge Wells. Cherrill had arrived in Lyttelton on the "Arawata" on 25 July 1876. John Spiller had been engaged by Cherrill as an assistant for two years although it appears he worked for Cherrill for four years until Cherrill returned to England in August 1881.
John Spiller
 179 Colombo Street, Christchurch 
John Spiller entered into business as a photographer on his own account in 1882. He first advertised as a photographer on 22 September, it is not known how he was employed during the previous year since Cherrill's departure. 
Star (Christchurch), Issue 4498, 23 September 1882, Page 2
For nine years he occupied premises at 179 Colombo Street, opposite the City Hotel.

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

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 Christchurch in 1887 John Spiller of Ward Street, Addington, photographer, witnessed the marriage of his sister Harriet Emily Spiller the daughter of Samuel Spiller a nurseryman to Robert William Metson.
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).

The Photographic Exhibition.
Though the work of New Zealand photographers is highly creditable, both in artistic, quality and in technique, it is well that they should ever bear in mind that there are heights of excellence in respect to both to which they have yet to attain. No doubt they do, as a rule, realise this important fact, and if any of them have a tendency to overlook it, an examination of the loan collection, which adds so much to the attractiveness of the exhibition now open at the Art Gallery, will bring it vividly before their minds. In that collection they will find exemplified what may be styled the “high art” of photography. One of the most notable illustrations of this is a picture lent by Mr J. Spiller, the work of the famous English art H. P. Robinson [Henry Peach Robinson was a former partner of Nelson King Cherrill]. “His own Fireside” is its title, and it shows an aged rustic, smock-clad and toilworn, sitting watching the blase on the hearth of his bumble cottage. It is a direct photograph, but, at first sight, one would almost take it for a copy of a painting. The picture is instinct with feeling; the pose of the figure, the grouping of its surroundings, the play of the light, are all admirable; the treatment is full at once of decision and of delicacy, and the general effect is bold yet soft. Of almost equal excellence, though in quite a different style, is the same artist’s “Come Along,” a charming scene of trees and stream, with a laughing trio of girls crossing the latter...
Lyttelton Times, Volume LXXXII, Issue 10453, 17 September 1894, Page 6
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
Sun (Christchurch), Volume VII, Issue 1897, 13 March 1920, Page 10

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 at her residence 45 Ward Street, Addington. They are buried in Sydenham Cemetery, block 28A plot 71.

John Spiller. There passed away on Sunday at the Christchurch Hospital a well-known resident of this city in the person of Mr John Spiller, who was born at Broadway, Somerset, in 1850, and after learning photography at Exeter, Devon, lived for some years at Tunbridge Wells, Kent, and was there married in 1876 to a Miss Hunt, daughter of a post office-official. After working some time in London, - he came out to Christchurch on a two years’ engagement to a Mr Cherrill (for whom he had worked in England), at his photography business, arriving at Lyttelton on September 3, 1877, by the sailing ship Waimate (Captain Peek). In 1880 he started in business as a photographer in Colombo Street (opposite the City-Hotel), and was there about nine years, when he moved to Oxford  Terrace, where he remained for thirty one years, finally giving up business in 1920.

Mr Spiller was a member of  several public bodies. He was a member of the Canterbury Chess Club for nearly thirty years, for about twenty  of which he served on the committee; was president and vice-president for five years, having been president during the International Exhibition Congress, 1906-7; he was made a life member of the club in 1915. Mr Spiller was a member of the Addington School Committee for a great number of years, holding also the position of chairman. He was also on the executive of the School Committees’ Association of  which, also, he was president for a period and later was made a life member He was a member of the committee of the S.P.C.A. for a great number of years, and was one of the original members of the Sydenham Bowling Club, being president in 1909 and being made a life member in 1922. He was at one time a member of the Philosophical Institute and the Industrial Association.
He leaves a widow and four sons, Harry of Christchurch, Walter, of Auckland, Bertram, of London, and Leonard, of Wellington.
Star (Christchurch), Issue 18593, 22 October 1928, Page 7

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 1899, 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.
Press, Volume LXIV, Issue 19447, 22 October 1928, Page 8


Auction Sale. Complete Furnishings of a 4-Roomed House, On the Premises, 45, Ward Street (off Selwyn Street), Addington.
On Thursday Next, 31st Inst., at 1p.m.
Instructed by the Public Trustee, executor of the will of Matilda Sophia Spiller, we will sell the contents of a 4-roomed Dwelling at above address. List includes — Good Inlaid and Printed Linos, Tap. Carpets, Axmin. Rugs, Brussels Runner, Duchesses, Washstands, Ware, 2 Elec. Radiators, Carpet Sweeper, D. Wood Bedstead complete, Stretcher, Clean Bedding, Wire Couch, Hand Sewing Machine, Saddlebag Couch, Dining and Occ. Tables, Seagrass and Up. Chairs article is in clean good order. George Anderson & Son, Auctioneers.
Star (Christchurch), Volume LXIV, Issue 851, 26 August 1933, Page 16
Auction Sale Small Addington Residence. Wednesday
Next, Dec. 20th, at 2 p.m.
In our Auction Rooms, 131-133 Worcester Street
On account of the Public Trustee as Exors. in Estate of Matilda Sophia Spiller (Deceased).
The Property No. 45 Ward Street, Addington, comprising a very neat Residence of 3 good rooms, Pantry, Scullery, Outside Run, Washhouse (Gas Copper), 2 Fowlhouses, H.P., Sewer, H. and C., Tiled fireplaces, etc. The rooms are plastered and nicely papered and not one penny is necessary to be spent in improvement. Fine section of 27 3/4 perches nicely laid out in lawns and garden.
NOTE — A great little property in an ideal position and full particulars are obtainable from the Auctioneers, Ford and Hadfield, Ltd.,
Press, Volume LXIX, Issue 21040, 16 December 1933, Page 36
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.

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




179 Colombo Street, Christchurch



[Purchased May 2022]

[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

John Spiller born 16 August 1850 Broadway, Somerset, England, died 21 October 1928 Christchurch Hospital, married
circa October 1876 Tonbridge, Kent, Matilda Sophia Hunt born 21 October 1853 Tunbridge Wells, Kent, died 24 July 1933 at her residence 45 Ward Street, Addington, Christchurch, New Zealand
1. Harry Spiller born 10 February 1878 Christchurch, reg. 1878/2302, died 22 July 1947 at his residence 113 Malcolm Avenue, Beckenham, Christchurch aged 69 years [1], married 19 June 1907 at the Wesleyan Methodist Church, Cargill Road, Dunedin, reg. 1907/4798 Alice Beatrice Hide youngest daughter of William Hide, Ohoka
1a. Victor Gerald Spiller [solicitor] born 23 April 1909, reg.1909/21080, died 1995, reg.   1995/48254, married 1937, reg.  1937/11367    Irene Carlton Vial   
1b. Cyril Osmond Spiller [of Spiller and Smith, Christchurch, accountants] born 3 October 1910, reg. 1910/23516, died 1992, reg. 1992/30890, married 1940, reg.    1940/4041 Patricia Louise Mallinson

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
Mr Harry Spiller
The death occurred recently of Mr Harry Spiller at the age of 69 years. Mr Spiller, who was a son of Mr John Spiller, well known in the early days of Canterbury, started work in Armstrongs and then commenced business in his own shop. He retired last February. Mr Spiller was a member of the Masonic Lodge and the Barrington Bowling Club. He is survived by his widow and two sons, Mr V. G. Spiller and Mr C. O. Spiller
Press, Volume LXXXIII, Issue 25246, 26 July 1947, Page 10
2. Walter Spiller born 10 April 1879  Canterbury, reg. 1879/13813, died 18 May 1948 at Christchurch Hospital [2], married 29 October 1903, reg. 1903/5953 Minnie Elizabeth Mary Metson
2a. Dorothy Lilian Spiller [or Dorothy Lillian Spiller] born 25 April 1904, reg. 1904/3290, 23 January 1981 Christchurch, reg. 1981/43824 unmarried
2b. Mavis Spiller born 9 March 1906, reg. 1906/11301, died 1975/46454, married 1934, reg. 1934/3811  Moses Mercer Ward
Anne [Exeter]
Alan [Montreal]
Irvine [Whangarei]

3. Bertram Spiller [of Cornerways, 43 Exmoor Crescent, Worthing] born 15 July 1880 Christchurch reg. 1880/11057, died 31 August 1963, 46 Shelley Road, Worthing, England, married 12 July 1919 St Peter's Church, Hornsey, Hilda May Chapman

4. Leonard Spiller born 9 October 1883 Christchurch, reg. 1883/18575, died 17 June 1949  Wellington, married 3 February 1909 St John's Church, Rangiora, by the Rev. F. P. Fendall, B.A., reg. 1909/2331 Mary Louisa Cook fourth daughter of Henry Cook, Rangiora
4a. June Spiller born 1910, reg. 1910/1636, died 1910 aged 32 hours, reg. 1910/3102
4b. Edith Spiller born 1911, reg. 1911/17023, died 1911 aged 7 days, reg. 1911/1185      
4c. Gordon Spiller born 20 February 1913, reg. 1913/13715, died 24 July 1991 Porirua, reg. 1991/44787
4d. Donald Spiller born 18 September 1916, reg. 1916/26375, died 2013, reg. 2013/4477     
4e. child stillborn 1919, reg. 1919/17914      

An enjoyable gathering was held at the residence of Mr and Mrs J. Spiller, 45, Ward Street, Addington, last Thursday, the occasion being the celebration of their golden wedding. A toast list was interspersed with music, games and reminiscences. Mr and Mrs Spiller were the recipients of many congratulations.
Star (Christchurch), Issue 17986, 25 October 1926, Page 11

[1] Press, Volume LXXXIII, Issue 25243, 23 July 1947, Page 1
[2] Press, Volume LXXXIV, Issue 25498, 19 May 1948, Page 1


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