The Lifeboat Station Project

I can’t believe it’s the end of 2016.

As a final blog post for this year I’d like to share with you a great few days I spent with Jack Lowe and The Lifeboat Station Project back in August. Go check out the website, it’ll tell you all you need to know, much better than I could ever put it into words.

In a nutshell he is visiting every RNLI station, all 237 of them, and recording them in 10×12 inch wet plate collodion positives over the next five years!!!

I had offered to assist Jack when one of his missions went to West Wales, especially New Quay, as my Parents spend most of their time there in their caravan.

Accompanying Jack this time were Jacks friends John Chennels and Peter Naylor. Peter, of Schoolhouse Digital is making a documentary about Jack and the project.


New Quay Harbour as picturesque as ever.


Neena was parked up in the nearest available spot thanks to some accommodating residents, just opposite the hill down to the station.


The back of Neenas door gives a interesting summary of where her and Jack have been and where they still has to visit.


Jack being as meticulous as ever…. he does like everything shipshape. Neena has a place for everything and everything in its place. I was soon shown the ropes. One of the main reasons I offered to assist Jack was so I could take a nosey at his technique and how he is producing his amazing plates.


I was impressed at how involved and committed everyone is to each mission.


He can’t resist…. go on have a feel has says.


Say no more…



As well as the three main plates that Jack shoots at each station, he also takes on private commissions, these are proving very popular, and why not? A once in a lifetime opportunity to be captured on glass with family and friends as part of this huge project.



The project relies greatly on original print sales alongside other merchandise. Here some of the New Quay crew look through Jacks print box.



Its very much a collaboration and Jack takes everyones opinions and thoughts very seriously when making his work.


The New Quay Crew Plate set up.


And from the harbour wall…


The hill! Jack has an App on his phone that tells him how many flights of stairs the climbing of this hill would be equivalent to over the days shooting. 80, yes 80!


I am very grateful to the New Quay crew as they offered to take us out on exercise that evening. I jumped at the opportunity. As you can see I was pretty excited although trying to play it cool…








Thank you. This, followed by a steak and a couple of pints, made for an amazing day.

On the Friday Jack was due to speak at the National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth. I had arranged to meet Scott Waby, Digitisation Manager, as part of my usual work as a Heritage Photographer at The John Rylands Library. And Jack was due to meet Paul McCann. We decided we should all meet together for lunch.


And then take a tour of the Digitisation Department and the photographic archives.

Scott with a Gigapan kit and a magnetic curved wall for photographing large scale maps for the Cynefin Project.


This Velum digital facsimile was impressive. We’ll have to give this a try at work.


Jack is also one of the UK’s leading digital printers, so he found plenty to chat about.


Onto the photographic archives and stores. Thank you William Troughton for your time.


It was around this point that it dawned on Jack how much room is going to be needed to house the finished project!


A Calotype by John Dilwyn Llewellyn. I’m a bit of a fan.


Jack taking five minutes rest before his talk. If you ever get chance to listen to Jack speak about his experiences and the project then you’ll soon appreciate the passion and commitment he is putting into this five year project.


Neena waiting patiently outside the National Library of Wales.


Saturday was the turn of Aberystwyth Lifeboat Station. We were joined by Jonny Kemp, a good friend of Jack and The LSP. Jonny was the main assistant today. I was demoted to plate cleaning…. The weather was looking as if it was ready to change, thankfully it stayed fine most of the day.




Jack I think the tides coming in…


Yep it was.


The resulting plate. I haven’t included any full shots of Jacks plates. You can be stunned by those over on his website.


A private commission, again a fantastic plate.


The organisation and logistics on the day, as well as prior to each mission, are pretty impressive.





Another private commission and very happy customers.



At the end of the day we were delighted to be asked along to the Annual Dinner.


Unfortunately, I had nothing to wear apart from silver stained cloths and trainers. A mad rush around Aberystwyths fine clothing stores resulted in me suited and booted for £25! Although nothing as fancy as Jacks shirt!


I believe this is the point where all things changed…


Although a fantastic selection of whiskies were available a little later.


And I’m not sure if chips, meat and chips was a fine way to end the evening.


The last private commission and plate for this year! And what a plate to end with. Paul was very pleased with it and rightly so.



Just in time, the weather turns for the worse just as we finish packing away for Jacks long drive back up North.


I just want to thank Jack, Jonny, John, Peter, and the crews at New Quay and Aberystwyth for making me feel so very welcome, and for the endless cups of tea/coffee, pastries and bacon sarnies. It was truly appreciated. Thank you for an amazing few days.

You can follow Jack and Neenas wonderful work and updates by following them on various social media as well as the main website.




A few weeks later a package arrived for me at work. I was so pleased when I saw what was inside. Jack and Jonny received their own versions.

The Aberystwyth crew each have personalised mugs with their hot drink preference. What a great idea…. mine has my hangover tea recipe on it for some reason! As for Boy in the Beard? Well you should have been there! Thank you all, it’s now my treasured mug in the studio.

So, thank you everyone and I wish you all a Happy New Year, roll on 2017!