The Wirral’s RNLI lifeboat crews are being immortalised in traditional glass photographs this week as part of a unique project to document all 238 RNLI lifeboat stations around the UK and Ireland.
Photographer Jack Lowe is visiting the lifeboat stations at West Kirby, Hoylake and New Brighton as he continues The Lifeboat Station Project – his 10-year mission to create a complete photographic record of every single RNLI lifeboat station and crew.
The project had to be paused for two years following the first national lockdown and the restrictions that followed throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. But Jack was able to get back on the road this month starting with a visit to Flint RNLI lifeboat station on 24 March.
Jack makes his distinctive photographs using a Victorian process known as wet collodion, creating images on glass from his mobile darkroom – a decommissioned ambulance called
He will be capturing the view from each RNLI lifeboat station, as well as images of the coxswains and helms, the women, the mechanics, and the full crews. Once the project is complete, the photographs are planned to form part of a special exhibition and book in support of the lifesaving charity.
Jack began the Wirral leg of his mission at West Kirby on 26 March and will be visiting the peninsula’s other lifeboat stations on the following dates, before continuing his journey up the north-west coast:
• Hoylake: Tuesday 29 March
• New Brighton: Thursday 31 March
Hoylake RNLI Coxswain Howie Owen said: ‘It’s a real privilege to be photographed as part of this incredible project. Jack’s passion and skill has already created an important record of over 150 of the RNLI’s crews around our coast and we can’t wait to be part of that. We look forward to welcoming Jack, his camera, and of course
Neena, to Hoylake this week.’
Ahead of his visit, Jack said: ‘After such a long pause to my coastal travels, it’s a huge relief to have been given the green light by the RNLI to resume my travels now that their stations are open to the public once again.’
‘With 150 stations completed and 88 to go, I can’t wait to make new work with the lifeboat volunteers and to continue sharing this good news story. And this leg of the journey is particularly exciting as it’s the first time I’ve been to the Wirral!’
‘The enforced pause has, of course, delayed the completion of the project. However – if everything goes smoothly from this point – I’m now set to finish in 2024, the RNLI’s 200th anniversary. Although it’s been such a challenging time for everyone, I can’t help but feel that the revised completion date is a golden piece of serendipity to have come out of it all.’
Jack publishes updates on Twitter (@ProjectLifeboat) but you can really get behind the project by becoming a member of The LSP Society, the place where you can also follow his journey more closely via the project’s dedicated app. Learn more at lifeboatstationproject.com
Notes to editors
Jack Lowe is a documentarist using photography, audio recordings and film to make and share the story of The Lifeboat Station Project, his 10-year journey to all 238 RNLI lifeboat stations on the coast of the UK and Ireland. Jack photographs and interviews the lifeboat volunteers he meets along the way but there’s a twist! Travelling in his mobile darkroom – a decommissioned ambulance called Neena – Jack uses Victorian photographic techniques to hand-make the images on glass. Head to lifeboatstationproject.com to see hundreds of photographs made over the years and to find out how you can get behind the rest of his odyssey.
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Key facts about the RNLI
The RNLI charity saves lives at sea. Its volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland coasts. The RNLI operates 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and more than 240 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK and Channel Islands. The RNLI is independent of Coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824, its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 142,700 lives.
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