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  1. ITV Report

Pictures give rare glimpse into life under the British Raj

A host of stunning pictures documenting life in India over one hundred years ago has been found in a shoebox.

Jain Temple complex, Kolkata Credit: RCAHMS/PA Wire

A total of 178 plate-glass negatives were found inside a size-nine Peter Lord shoe box by the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland (RCAHMS) in Edinburgh.

They are said to have been taken at the time of the British Raj and it is thought the negatives had lain untouched for almost 100 years.

Street hairdresser giving a 'Hindustani haircut' (pudding bowl), Strand Road South, Kolkata Credit: RCAHMS/PA Wire

Archivists at RCAHMS have already confirmed that some of the images were definitely taken in 1912. King George V and Queen Mary visited Calcutta - the only Monarch to visit the subcontinent as Emperor.

Little known about the images or the photographer, prompting a search for clues as to his or her identity.

Waterside with group of washermen at a dhobi ghat Credit: RCAHMS/PA Wire

One theory is that the photographer was a British civil servant in Calcutta, or was connected to the jute trade, as many Scots were said to be at the time.

RCAHMS hopes that members of the public and photography enthusiasts might be able to help trace whoever took the beautiful images.

Riverside scene with bathers, looking north from Chatulal's Ghat towards Ram Chandra Goenka's Zenana (ladies) ghat, Kolkata Credit: RCAHMS/PA Wire

Claire Sorensen, RCAHMS architectural historian, said:

We don't know for sure how they came to be in our collection because we receive archive material from countless different sources, ranging from the archives kept by architectural practices to generous public donations.

Sometimes we take in large amounts of material at once, and often documentation for historical deposits does not exist.

Over time all this new material will be inspected and catalogued as part of our collection - undergoing conservation work where necessary - and then made available to the public.

It's fantastic that a small shoe box contained such a treasure-trove of photographic imagery, but in some ways it's not unusual.

Our experience as an archive has shown us that some of the most interesting discoveries can be made in the most unlikely of places.

Ships arriving at the Chandpal Ghat Credit: RCAHMS/PA Wire