An old postcard showing an airship flying over Watford may have been put together by the company that produced the original picture.

The Watford Observer published the image at the start of this month after it had first been shared in our nostalgia Facebook group ‘We grew up in Watford’.

This led to some members of the group stating the image had been doctored, suggesting the airship may have been Photoshopped onto the original.

Watford Museum offered to help investigate the picture and volunteer archivist Christine Orchard has been looking into its past. She is confident the airship was added to the original image – but believes this may have been done by the company which produced the postcard around 90 years ago and not as a result of more recent computer technology.

The postcard was produced by Dundee-based J Valentine and Co and Christine recognised it when she saw it because she has the same postcard at home, but without the airship.

She said: “It’s the same image and it’s the same negative number. But comparing the text that’s on mine with the text that’s on the airship one, it’s the same words but a different font and the airship one has got a number five in brackets.

Hillingdon Times:

The airship postcard we published with the [5] in the bottom right-hand corner

“There are other Valentine postcards of Watford High Street that have a number on it in brackets and they seem to have the same sort of date which is around the early 1930s.”

The British-built R100 and R101 had trial flights in late 1929 but the R101 crashed, with loss of life, in October 1930 and British participation in that method of flight effectively ceased, although German-built Zeppelins continued to fly during that decade.

Photographic negatives of that period were glass plates and the museum archivist initially thought the airship image may have been created by laying a glass negative of an airship on top of one of the High Street and re-photographing it to create a new image.

However, Christine contacted the University of St Andrews, which holds the Valentine archive, and they have provided an insight into how the company edited its photos. This wasn’t done by combining two glass plates, rather a figure or image was cut from one image and carefully glued onto the other and re-photographed ready for a new postcard run.

Christine said: “So it's the old fashioned cut and paste technique. I'm told that Valentines did this a lot to keep an image as up to date, and in use for as long as possible.

“Postcard JV-204555 was registered by Valentine on July 12, 1928 and retired/replaced on October 4, 1951.”

While it cannot be proved that Valentines added the airship, Christine added: “We have two postcards with identical street scenes but different text styles and caption. This suggests to me that the airship card was a Valentines edit and re-captioning.”