Spurling Family


'Corra Linn Bridge' by Stephen Spurling II, 1879 (W.L. Crowther Library, SLT)

The Spurling family (Stephen I 182192; Frederick 18501942; Stephen II 18471924; Stephen III 18761962), photographers. Stephen I's known output consists of rather primitive portraiture. Frederick worked in his father's Hobart studio in the 1860s and 1870s, and operated a photographic studio in Fingal, 192437. Stephen II also worked in the family studio in the 1860s, before going to the goldfields in New Zealand and Bendigo. On his return, he set up a studio in Launceston where his collection of views were released as lantern slides, prints and postcards. He photographed early railway accidents, reputedly using a train carriage as a darkroom on location. Also noted for his 'instantaneous photography' of children, he is claimed to be the first in Tasmania to use dry-plate work.

Stephen III joined the family business in 1902, and travelled to many remote areas for landscape photography. Much of his work survives, including probably the earliest extensive record of the Cradle Mountain and Western Tiers area, the first known shots of the Gordon and Franklin Rivers, a 1902 series of Ben Lomond in winter, and the earliest known aerial photos in Tasmania from 1919. His studio was the largest in northern Tasmania from the turn of the century until 1937.

Further reading: C Long, Tasmanian photographers 1840-1940, Hobart, 1995.

Wendy Rimon