The infamous image

On November 19th, 1995, a fire in the town of Wem in Shropshire, England, completely destroyed the interior of Wem Town Hall. This event has since become notorious not for the damage caused, but for a photograph of the fire taken by amateur photographer Tony O'Rahilly.

When the image was developed, it appeared to show the image of a girl standing in the doorway, surrounded by flames.

Word spread, and the conclusion was drawn that the image showed the ghost of Jane Churn, a young girl who was accused of starting a fire in Wem in 1677.

The photograph was shown to several experts, who disagreed about it. The Royal Photographic Society believed the photograph to be genuine, while the National Media Museum stated that it was faked, claiming to have discovered horizontal 'scan lines' across the girl in the image, suggesting that she had been pasted in separately.

It wasn't until 2010, however, that an actual explanation for the image came about.

A postcard from 1922 provided answers to a 15-year mystery

Brian Lear, a 77-year-old man from Shrewsbury, stumbled across a postcard printed as part of a nostalgia segment in a local newspaper. It showed a street in Wem as it appeared in 1922.

In the corner of the image, Lear noted, appears a young girl who bears a striking resemblence to the girl featured in the famous image of the Wem ghost.

And so, after fifteen years of debate over the photograph, the mystery was finally revealed.

O'Rahilly died in 2005. He maintained that the image was genuine to his death.

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