AMID a broken old bicycle and general junk, an intriguing discovery awaited Jane and Mike Fikuart as they cleared the accumulation of several decades from their home in Little Ealing Lane.
In a box next to a rusty boiler, untouched for perhaps half a century or more, was an old 'box brownie' camera and a collection of 11 slender glass plates etched with images from another era.
As Jane, 37, herself a documentary maker, began to rub away at the muck, fascinating evidence emerged of the previous occupants of what she slowly recognised as her own home.
"They were so filthy when they came out of the loft, they just looked like a few squares of glass," said Jane Then I had a closer look and realised that they were some kind of negative, but I'd never seen anything like it before."
The glass pieces came in all different sizes and appeared too high quality to have been taken with the cardboard brownie, a fairly low resolution camera widely used at the turn of the 20th century.
"I wasn't really sure what to do with them, so I took them to Snappy Snaps in Soho, which I knew had a good reputation amongst photographers," said Jane.
"They were really nervous about dealing with them and said they'd only only seen them in the British Museum, but they gave it a go and were able to reverse the negatives."
The results were stunning, if a little unnerving, showing period details from the Fikuarts' home in the 1930s or 1940s in vivid detail.
"To see the people who lived in our house was slightly freaky to start with and I wasn't sure if I liked it or not," said Jane. "I didn't know whether to embrace it, get the photos made up and hang them on the walls, or whether to put them away and try to forget about them – it was a little bit like raising their ghosts. But embrace them we did."
One of the few shots taken outside their home shows what appears to be a school hall, packed with teachers and children in party hats, and decked out in bunting for a celebration.
Jane said: "We thought it might have been inside Little Ealing Primary school, which is a few doors away from us, but a trip to their main hall alongside quickly put the end to that idea. We would love to repatriate this photo with the hall in which it was taken."
Anyone who can identify the hall or who has any idea about the origins of the photograph is urged to email suggestions to email@example.com