Calm Before the Storm exhibition

Calm Before the Storm: The Art of Photographing Lifeboats marks the digitisation of 850 glass plate negatives of lifeboats. It celebrates significant moments in the life of individual lifeboats and their volunteer crews, from starting service to saving lives at sea.

The Beken family have been photographing maritime life in Cowes for generations, creating a stunning visual record of Isle of Wight industry and RNLI lifeboats. 

With the support of both The National Lottery Heritage Fund and Christopher Andreae and The Scorpion Trust, this unique collection of glass plate negatives has been preserved and digitised.

A part of this remarkable collection was showcased in an exhibition - Calm Before the Storm: The Art of Photographing Lifeboats – which ran from 29 January-22 April 2019 at Poole Museum. 

The Heritage team has selected some unique images from the Beken collection for you to enjoy online.

Explore the collection

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North and East Gallery
From Berwick-upon-Tweed to Aldeburgh, discover the digitisation of Beken plate negatives.
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Scotland Gallery
From Kirkcudbright to Anstruther, discover the digitisation of Beken plate negatives.
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South East Gallery
From Margate to Selsey, discover the digitisation of Beken plate negatives.
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South West Gallery
From Clovelly to Swanage, discover the digitisation of Beken plate negatives.
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Wales and West Gallery
From the coast of Wales to the Isle of Man, discover the digitisation of Beken plate negatives.
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Ireland Gallery
From Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, discover the digitisation of Beken plate negatives.
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Read stories
Stories behind the lifeboats
Discover lifeboat stories from the Calm Before the Storm exhibition
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About Beken of Cowes
For generations, the Beken family in Cowes, Isle of Wight, have photographed yachting and maritime activity in the area, creating a fascinating record of lifeboats and lifeboat building.
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Project funded by Heritage Lottery Fund