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Old press photos found after explosion go under hammer

A treasure trove of old press photos discovered after an explosion ripped through an empty house during the Northern Irish troubles are to be auctioned next week.

The collection of glass plate photographic negatives, recording life in Derry in the 1930s, are believed to be part of the archive of the Derry Standard, a weekly newspaper that closed in 1966.

They were discovered in 1969, shortly after a blast ripped through the empty house in the Waterside area of the city, bringing down part of the roof.

A British Army soldier sent in to search the wrecked property found the glass plates hidden in boxes under the floorboards.

One of the images discovered following the 1969 blast

One of the images discovered following the 1969 blast

The collection of 68 negatives cover almost every aspect of pre-war life in the city including parades, marches, factorty scenes and funerals.

Auctioneer Paul Cooper said that despite being found in a bombed-out building, the plates remain in astonishingly good condition.

He told the Derry Journal: “The search team’s initial thought was that the boxes – which were sealed and tightly wrapped in plastic – might contain ammunition.

“When it was found that the contents of the boxes were glass negatives, everybody lost interest. They were never claimed and eventually ended up back with the soldier who recovered them.”

He added: “They’re pretty clearly press photographs and our research indicates that they are a missing part of the photographic archive of the Derry Standard, a local newspaper that closed down in 1966.

“Much of the archive was famously rescued from a skip after being dumped by builders who were renovating the newspaper’s old premises a couple of years after the closure.  Those plates are now part of the Derry Library’s Heritage Collection.

“However, it is known that some negatives were lost before two local men, David Bigger and Terence McDonald, realised what was happening and mounted their skip rescue operation.”

The collection is to go under the hammer in an online auction on Tuesday 5 December.