In a basement at Shrewsbury's archives library a huge stack of plain brown boxes lay on shelves in rows 24 high. Between them, they contain 45,000 photos, some dating back to the 19th Century and about many of which almost nothing is known.

Head of Shropshire Archives Mary McKenzie said: "A lot of it is a mystery and that's why we need people's help." Project manager John Benson said the photos had come from a wide range of sources, from people's wills to donations from families, groups, businesses and others.

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