Wem Fire Ghost Girl

 The Ghost In The Burning Building


On November 19, 1995, the town hall in Wem, Shropshire England burned to the ground. Many spectators gathered & watched the building built in 1905 as it burned.

Tony O`Rahilly, a local resident, took this photo from across the street with a 200mm telephoto lens. The photo shows what looks like a small transparent girl standing in the doorway. Neither O`Rahilly nor spectators or firefighters recalled seeing the girl there at the time of the fire.

The photo was submitted to the Scientific Study Of Anomalous Phenomena & analyzed by Dr. Vernon Harrison, former president of the Royal Photographic Society. After examining both the negative & the print, Dr. Harrison concluded that the photo was genuine.

But who is the little girl? Wem, a quiet market town in northern Shropshire, was ravaged by a fire in 1677. Historical records note that a young girl named Jane Churm accidentally started the fire with a candle that destroyed many of the town`s homes. Many believe her ghost haunts the area & have seen her ghost on a few other occasions.



May 2011 Update


In recent years new information has come to light, including examinations of this photo that is suggesting that this photo might be a hoax.


O'Rahilly sent the photo for analysis to the Association for the Scientific Study of Anomolous Phenomena (ASSAP), which determined that a burning piece of wood lay on the railing where the image appears, rendering the image a simulacrum.

ASSAP forwarded the photo to the former Royal Photographic Society president, Dr. Vernon Harrison.

Harrison concluded that the image did appear to be genuine, but he continued to be skeptical, believing it could have been the smoke or light playing tricks.

A later analysis by photographic officers of the National Media Museum concluded that the photograph was doctored. A negative made from the photograph (not the original negative) showed horizontal scan lines consistent with those of a television image across the image of the girl.

The officers concluded that the girl's image was likely pasted into the photograph.

In 2010, five years after the death of the photographer, a 77-year-old local resident claimed to solve the mystery, citing a similarity between the girl in the photograph and the image of a girl printed on a postcard that appeared in the local paper Shropshire Star.

The postcard in question was taken in 1922 and shows a young girl who resembles the so-called "Wem Ghost".


Left- Wem Ghost/ Right -Girl on postcard from 1922.


Was this just a hoax?

Although my opinions are subject to change over time (which is normal in this business), I`m still not convinced that this mystery is yet solved and here is why...

I agree the two pictures are similar, The two girls are wearing similar clothes, but something is slightly off here. The picture of the girl in the flames is much clearer than the supposed source picture on the postcard.


Personally, I agree it looks like the same image, and the dress and face does seem similar. So going forward from that, believers or otherwise could investigate whether the alledged Wem Ghost '14-year-old Jane Churm' ever worked in the White Horse Hotel. (That is the location of the girl in the postcard, she`s standing in front of the hotel). As the dress does look very similar, perhaps there could be an albeit tenuous link to a uniform or style of dress common to that Inn or that culture.  If so, THAT would be an interesting follow up read. Look at these two photos and tell me if in photoshop you can get the head to turn slightly off to the right to look straight at the camera without experts coming along & noticing a join? whereas the postcard girl is looking straight ahead, well head slightly down as the neck etc is in shadow.  Her face is also in shadow.


And finally, members of the National Media Museum explain that they determined it was doctored because they put it on a scope that detected scan lines, implying that the ghost girl was taken off of a video.  I saw what appeared to be video scan lines on the girl, but they did not show the rest of the image where they claimed there were no scan lines. I watched the video in which the museum staff member showed the photo using the scope.  Number one... Why didn`t they actually show us the portion of the photo where there were not any scan lines? If they can take the time to have a representative from that museum appear and explain it, why didn`t they take that time to actually show us this photo being debunked on the scope?


Number two... Make up your minds, is it from a video or a postcard?  If it has scan lines and is believed to be taken from a video, then so much for the postcard theory, and if the image came from the postcard, why does it have video scan lines?


I`m not saying this photo of the ghost girl is fake and I`m not saying that it`s real. What I am saying is that the evidence presented here (from my vantage point anyway) has failed to convince me. If this were a criminal trial, the prosecution would have failed to prove their case.  LET`S SEE THE REAL EVIDENCE!

  What do you think? Is this mystery solved? Haunting or hoax?
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