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Exmouth RNLI volunteers captured by The Lifeboat Station Project

Lifeboats News Release

On 7 September, Photographer Jack Lowe visited Exmouth lifeboat station to record the 21st century boathouse, Shannon class lifeboat and Crew volunteers with a Victorian camera.

Jack plans to visit all 237 RNLI lifeboat stations in Britain and Ireland, photographing each station along with the crew and Coxswain/Senior Helm using Wet Plate Collodion, a Victorian process that allows him to record stunning images on glass.

The ambitious project is likely to take three to five years to complete. Jack, who lives in Newcastle upon Tyne, travels in 'Neena' — a decommissioned NHS ambulance purchased on eBay and converted into a mobile darkroom.

The day’s activity was also filmed by the charity to explain the process of making a picture. The RNLI Film and Image team chose Exmouth as a venue with a state-of-the-art Shannon class lifeboat R and J Welburn and a 21st century boathouse to contrast with 19th century photographic techniques.

During the day, Jack and his assistant ‘Hen’ (Ian Henderson) produced four photographs: the boathouse; Coxswain, Steve Hockings-Thompson; identical twin Crew volunteers, Roy and Andy Stott and finally, 22 Crew and operational volunteers who were available on the day. As each picture was made, volunteers were invited into ‘Neena’ to watch a portrait of themselves developing before their eyes.

Jack, grandson of Dad’s Army actor Arthur Lowe said:

‘We had fantastic support and hospitality from the volunteers, it was much appreciated. Hen and I stayed to watch them land on the beach after their fortnightly Shannon exercise that evening – something I’ve always wanted to see ‘in real life’. It was a perfect ending to a seamlessly busy day.’ 

The photographs will ultimately be showcased in an exhibition and book, both of which are set to be fundraisers for the charity that saves lives at sea.

Notes to Editors

  • 50 limited edition prints are available to pre-order on the Devon page of 
  • The video of the Project is currently being edited and will be available on the RNLI video library soon. Please contact us if you would like the link. 


PR140916-1 Ambrotype glass plate of Crew and Shannon class lifeboat R and J Welburn. 

PR140916-2 RNLI filming reaction of Crew looking at the developed plate

PR140916-3 Jack Lowe in ‘Neena’ developing Exmouth Crew photograph

For more information please telephone Emma Tarling, Exmouth RNLI Volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer on 07837 810082 or email:

Key facts about the RNLI

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution is the charity that saves lives at sea. Our volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service in the United Kingdom and Ireland from 238 lifeboat stations, including four along the River Thames and inland lifeboat stations at Loch Ness, Lough Derg, Enniskillen, Carrybridge and Lough Ree. Additionally the RNLI has more than 1,000 lifeguards on over 240 beaches around the UK and operates a specialist flood rescue team, which can respond anywhere across the UK and Ireland when inland flooding puts lives at risk.

The RNLI relies on public donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. As a charity it is separate from, but works alongside, government-controlled and funded coastguard services. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824 our lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved at least 140,000 lives. Volunteers make up 95% of the charity, including 4,600 volunteer lifeboat crew members and 3,000 volunteer shore crew. Additionally, tens of thousands of other dedicated volunteers raise funds and awareness, give safety advice, and help in our museums, shops and offices.

Learn more about the RNLI

For more information please visit the RNLI website or Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. News releases, videos and photos are available on the News Centre.

Contacting the RNLI - public enquiries

Members of the public may contact the RNLI on 0300 300 9990 or by email.


The RNLI is a charity registered in England and Wales (209603) and Scotland (SC037736). Charity number 20003326 in the Republic of Ireland