St Mary’s Lifeboat Crew To Be Part Of Unique Photographic Record

One of Jack Lowe's glass plate images - this one of the Ilfracombe RNLI crew.

One of Jack Lowe’s glass plate images – this one of the Ilfracombe RNLI crew.

Our islands’ lifeboat crew will be photographed using a 110-year old camera.

Newcastle-based photographer Jack Lowe has launched a project to capture images crew from each of the 237 RNLI stations in Britain and Ireland by adopting Victorian photo technology, which uses plate glass in the process.

Jack says the lifeboat community is “an integral part of our island nation” and he’s been captivated by their work since joining the junior RNLI ‘Storm Force’ cadets when he was a young man.

He says he could take pictures at all the lifeboat houses using modern kit, but waiting with the crew for the plates to develop is much more sociable and rewarding and allows him to find out about the volunteers.

Jack’s planning an exhibition of his work when it’s complete, which will display the images on a map arranged around the room, so people can link the photos to the geographical locations that they were taken in.

He travels with an old ambulance, Neena, which doubles up as a dark room because he has to develop the images within ten minutes of the shot being taken.

He had hoped to come across to St Mary’s next month but his scheduled trip to the Cornish RNLI stations coincides with the Gry Maritha being out-of-service for maintenance.

That would mean his vehicle would be left in Scilly for too long before he could return to the mainland so he’s going to have to reschedule his Scilly trip for next year.

You can learn more about his project at