In Shropshire, England, there is a building called The Wem Town Hall. On November 19, 1995, the interior of the building was completely destroyed by fire. An amateur photographer named Tony O’Rahilly managed to get a photo as Wem Town Hall burned. In his photo stood a girl. She’s been dubbed the Wem Town Hall Ghost.
The image was of a girl in the doorway of the burning building and none of the onlookers saw her. According to the story, the photographer sent the photo out for analysis, but the results were inconclusive. One study said it was a phenomenon caused by a log burning the railing which made it look like a girl. Another said the image seemed genuine, but that the image could be caused by light or smoke. Later studies said that the pictured seemed doctored.
The apparition was thought to be the spirit of Jane Churm. In 1677, Jane accidentally started a fire in the town and she died in the fire. The Wem Town Hall Ghost photograph went on to become very popular. It made its rounds on paranormal sites and numerous YouTube videos as an authentic photo. The Wem residents embraced the story and erected a sign on the outskirts of town that read “Ghost Town”.
Tony O’Rahilly died in 2005, still maintaining that it was a true image of an apparition. However, in 2010, a 77 year old resident named Brian Lear solved the mystery of the ghostly photo. It turns out to not be so ghostly after all. Mr. Lear noted that the girl in the photo held a remarkable resemble to a girl from a 1922 postcard.
If you look at a close up shot of the girl in the photograph, you can see the resemblance much more clearly.
If you put them side by side, it’s very easy to tell. From the scowl on her face, to the folds of her dress and bonnet, to the ribbon, everything is identical.
I must admit that, like the Amityville House ghost boy, this photo had me fooled. It’s unclear why Tony O’Rahilly kept up the charade until he died. Maybe he was fooled like everyone else, or maybe he enjoyed the notoriety he brought the town. Regardless of his motives, I’m convinced that this photo is doctored and that it was well done.