The Latest Mystery Photographs

Hi everyone,

Last month, I asked for your help in tracing the owner of a series of mystery photographs that were in a camera I received for my birthday. In an unusual twist, it appears that the Agra camera was one of two cameras that were in the same action lot. I managed to purchase the second Agfa camera (which is a slightly newer model) and it also contained an undeveloped film. I have had the film developed and I have posted the photographs below. If you think you know who they belong to please get in touch…

Agfa 1bAgfa 3Agfa 2


Please help…

Last month it was my birthday and I received a beautiful Agfa (Brownie) camera. When I opened it, I was surprised to to find a film inside. I Googled the film and camera and they both date from the 1930s-1940s.

I honestly did not think there would be anything on the film, but surprisingly after being installed in the camera over 60 years ago, four images have come out.

I am looking to try and reunite the pictures with their rightful owner. I know this is a big ask, but after researching people’s ancestors for a long time, I appreciate how important pictures of loved ones are.

All I know is that the camera was bought at an antique shop in Knutsford. The dealer in Knutsford said that camera was purchased at an auction in Stockport, but could have come from anywhere…

It would be lovely if we could give these pictures back to their owner. Please get in touch if you recognise any of these people.

Click on the image to enlarge…


In this picture, you can see that the people are stood at a train station.

In this picture, you can see that the people are stood at a train station.


Behind the group in this picture there is a train timetable which says that the trains at this station stop at Cardiff, Penzance and Plymouth.

Behind the group in this picture there is a train timetable which says that the trains at this station stop at Cardiff, Penzance and Plymouth.


This image is had to make out because of the double exposure. I have posted it both ways, to see if anyone knows who these people are.

This image is had to make out because of the double exposure. I have posted it both ways, to see if anyone knows who these people are.


This image is had to make out because of the double exposure. I have posted it both ways, to see if anyone knows who these people are.

This image is had to make out because of the double exposure. I have posted it both ways, to see if anyone knows who these people are.





BBC Radio Lancashire (09/09/13)

john gillmore

Here is another chance to catch Michala talking to John Gillmore on BBC Radio Lancashire about all things ancestry…

BBC Radio Lancashire Podcast (15 Apr 13)

Here is another chance to catch Michala chatting to John Gillmore on BBC Radio Lancashire

BBC Radio Manchester Podcast (09 Apr 13)

If you missed Michala on BBC Radio Manchester you can listen here….

BBC Radio Manchester Podcast (02 Apr 13)

Gladstone_optHere is another chance to catch Michala doing here weekly phone-in on all things Ancestry and her Manchester Historic Heroes, this week it’s William Gladstone.

BBC Radio Lancashire Podcast (20 March 13)

john gillmoreCatch Michala talking to BBC Radio Lancashire presenter John Gillmore about how to research your ancestors and his own family tree.

Guide to Tracing Your Family Tree Part 4: Finding Records

In the last guide we spoke about how to research your ancestors on the internet, but what happens if what you are trying to find is not online, or you would like to do the research in person?


manchester-portico-libraryIn nearly every corner of Britain there are libraries, archives, record offices and local history centres that hold material relevant to family history. One of the first stages of your research should be to identify which respository your information is being held at.  This can be quite complicated, so I would check the online catalogue or call up, to make sure they have the material before you set off.


sample_ticketIt worth bearing in mind that most archives and libraries do require that you get a readers ticket or join the library and this is for security reasons, so it is probably worth taking two forms of ID if you are visiting somewhere new. If you are researching in archives and record offices, it is important to adhere to the recommendations when handling original documents, this could be as simple as wearing gloves or using the book supports provided.


national archivesThe National Archives is always a good place to start if you are looking for records relating to the national government, these can be military documents, wills and occupations ect.. It is worth searching their online catalogue before setting off for a visit because they hold so many documents it can get confusing. If you do get stuck, give them a phone call as they are always willing to help.


manchester record officeCounty Record Offices contain a variety of local records, such as parish records, local government records, newspapers, school records, local images and records relating to local individuals. Most record offices now have an online catalogue and require that you book before you turn up, quoting the reference number of the records that you need. This is to give them time to get the records out and also to book to on a reader machine. It is worth making sure that you have a pencil and a clear plastic bag to carry your things in because pens and bags are not permitted in the search room.


Local and Family History libraryLocal history centres are usually run by family history groups and contain information such as local history books, maps and transcribed parish registers that has been completed by volunteers. These places are great, as the volunteers are usually family history researchers themselves and can offer great advice and guidance.


library-bishops-castle-interiorLibraries can be invaluable when researching your ancestors. Most large libraries have a local history section containing books, electoral registers, newspapers, parish records, maps and trade directors. They also offer free online access to some of the big ancestry websites.


Other places to look are military museums, national libraries, university libraries and specific museums such as the V&A, if your ancestor was interested in art and design.


Guide to Tracing Your Family Tree Part 3: Ancestry on the Internet

After you have gathered all your information from relatives and pictures, it is now time to start researching. There are two ways of researching, online (ancestry websites) and in person (archives, record offices, libraries).  In this guide we are going to look at my favourite ancestry websites and discover what they have to offer.  Some of the websites below are free and some do charge a fee, however most libraries offer free access to some of the large ancestry sites.

The first website we are going to look at is Family Search (  This is quoted to be the largest FREE genealogical site on the internet. The site contains records of Births, Marriages and Deaths. It also contains Probate Records, Military Records and the extracted International Genealogical Index (IGI). In simple terms it contains a lot of records!! There are many good points about this website such as, its simple to use, it contains records from around the world and its FREE. However there are a few negatives, the first would be that if you want to see original records, it directs to another ancestry website that you need to pay for. Another point to remember is that it doesn’t contain as many records as some of the paying sites, however it is still a good place to start research.

Another good FREE site is the Free UKBMD website ( This site contains mostly Birth, Marriage and Death records that have been transcribed by local history societies and the Civil Registration Index. The site is the parent of regional BMD websites such as My favourite aspect of this website is that it sometimes tells you more information than the Civil Registration Index does, such as the maiden name of the mother of the child. This is not on every record, but it really helped me on the last family tree I was researching.  You can also order certificates from your local registry office direct from this website. As far as free BMD sites go, this is one of the best, however it is limited to BMD records and not all have been transcribed yet.

Two of my favourite paying sites are and I subscribe to them both, and depending on whom I’m researching, depends on which site I use.  I could probably write a page on each, but I am going to keep it brief.

The cost of for a 12 month world membership (you have to sign to this if you want the full set of Irish records) is £159.95. The same world package at is £155.40.  When I start my research I tend to use Ancestry as it very simple to build your tree, and you can save the records you discover straight onto the people in your tree. Ancestry has millions of records, which is great. At the moment I am currently sifting through the Liverpool Cemetery Records. However sometimes the volume of records, means that the person you are searching for can be on page 20 of 200, which takes forever. I have also had a few issues with misspelt names that had been interpreted wrong from the census, this can be annoying as I thought they didn’t exsist and then I found them on another website.

Findmypast contains many of the same main records (military, census, bmd ect) but does contain a few regional gems such as records from the Manchester Archive. Another fab point about this site is the fact you can search the census by address, I have used this technique on a few occasions when I couldn’t find a person on the census by name, I have found them by address and discovered their name was spelt wrong, thus why I couldn’t find them.

To choose between the two sites would be difficult, I feel they both have their good and bad points and overall are the best paying sites on the internet.

Here are a few other sites I use on a regular basis….

Roots Ireland ( contains over 20million Irish records including Birth, Marriage, Death and Gravestones. You can get free searches when you register but after that you do have to pay to search (I credit per page) and to view certain records costs 25 credits,  which at a cost of 25 credits for 5 Euros, it is not cheap.

Scotlands People ( contains nearly 90 million Scottish records. Their records include Censuses, Wills and Birth Certificates. This site does charge and to get the latest rates it’s best to check out their website.

Genuki ( This is a very useful online genealogical reference library. The site covers all of the UK, and provides information such as, the names of record offices and libraries in your region, and the names of local family history groups.

I hope you found the above information useful. I have made the above observations while working as a professional history researcher. If you have any questions or would like further help then please send me an email to