Extraordinary claims. Ordinary investigations.

Wem ghost photo solved


I’m a couple of months late on this, as even the Daily Mail exposed the case in mid-May, but here it is. As you may remember, we initially thought the intriguing British Wem ghost photo could be an impressive example of pareidolia, but then discovered that Will Stapp from the National Museum of Photography in Bradford, had concluded the face of the ghost had a series of horizontal lines, indicating that it was a hoax.

When confronted with the verdict, photographer Tony O’Rahilly nervously denied having tampered with the image. This was on 1996, just a year after the photo was taken, and it’s interesting that rather than the skeptical verdict and evidence by Stapp from the National Museum of Photography, the photo circulated instead for all these years along with the conclusion by Vernon Harrison, former president of the Royal Photographic Society, that it showed “no sign of having been tampered with”.

A decisive piece of evidence came up on April of this year, when the local paper “Shropshire Starpublished a postcard in its nostalgia section:


"We’re in Wem today with a postcard which was franked on September 11, 1922. Shops visible include Mortons on the left, and Jarvis Ironmongers on the right.  The message on the back of the postcard was: “11.9.22. Dear Shie (? – the writing is difficult to read), This will give you some idea of the quaintness of Wem.  “There are heaps of ideal places to be snapped, but the sun is not too obliging. We are leaving this afternoon for the ‘Grange’. George’s sister telephoned me this morning. Love to all. Reg.”  It was posted to Miss Sewell (? – again, difficult to read), 89 Maring (?) Road, Tooting Common, London. This postcard was published by F. Hiden, Wem.  Picture: Ray Farlow."

If you have a keen eye as reader Brian Lear had, you will recognize the little girl on the left of the postcard. “Her dress and headgear appear to be identical”, he said. A blown up detail comparison confirms that this is no mere similarity or coincidence, it’s an exact match down to every detail.


If you are in still in doubt, check the interactive comparison by Richard Deeson. It’s amazing Lear managed to recognize the little girl from the original low-resolution image.

Unfortunately, photographer O’Rahilly passed away in 2005. But considering the exact match between his ghost photo and a postcard published by a local Wem company and the strange horizontal artifacts seen by Will Stapp in the original negatives, there’s little doubt the photo was hoaxed.

– – –

[The credit goes to Brian Lear, the Shropshire Star, and thanks to Umbriel, José Ildefonso and others who suggested this solution]

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Posted in Ghosts | 8 comments

8 Comments so far

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Allan Cavanagh. Allan Cavanagh said: Wem ghost photo solved – http://bit.ly/amT8r7 […]

  2. joem July 14th, 2010 3:24 am

    Hoaxed, or the original girl was a ghost, too! A ghost with Paris Hilton’s precision for posing in the exact same pose every time!

    Come now, which seems more likely?!

  3. Steve O'Rourke August 15th, 2010 10:16 pm

    One of my favorite ‘ghost’ photos debunked. Ah, well… :(

  4. […] clara y razonable que la estupidez presentada por el charlatán mayor y nos la ofrece el sitio de Forgetomori, Kentaro Mori llego a afirmar que se trataba de solamente una pareidolia sin embrago la solución […]

  5. Misteri Foto Wem Town Hall « The Kesgar September 27th, 2010 2:03 am

    […] http://forgetomori.com/2010/paranormal/ghosts/wem-ghost-photo-solved/ Misteri foto yang menyusahkan ini diselesaikan lewat sebuah bukti akhir. […]

  6. philco July 13th, 2011 7:40 am

    I have the same sentiment as Mr O’Rourke! One of my favorite ghost photos debunked! Mr Brian Lear deserves some kind of award, mention or a monument! How incredible he was able to associate the photos! Especially considering the fuzziness of the original ghost photo! He might be the only one on the face of this planet, who could have pulled it off!
    Kudos for Mr Lear!

    Thank you Mr Mori for your great fun and entertainment!
    Peace and Blessings!! from near Seattle

  7. […] consigliati: atlantaskeptics  forgetomori  Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:Mi piaceBe the first to like […]

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