Today’s RNLI on wet collodion: Jack Lowe’s The Lifeboat Station project

The Lifeboat Station Project

Newcastle-based photographer Jack Lowe is been a lifelong enthusiast and supporter of the RNLI, and is now pursuing an extraordinary project travelling the UK in a converted ambulance photographing lifeboat stations, coxwains and crews using the 19th century wet plate collodion method.

The result is an extraordinary collection of striking photos that have more than something of the look of old photos of Victorian lifeboatment – but with the twist that these folks and places are in the here and now.

Part of the aim is to raise money for the RNLI, but Jack also intends to create something that will involve and unite the RNLI community, and finally to create an exhibition in which the glass plates are hung in geographical in order around a huge room to create a sense of seeing the entire coastline of the British Isles.

It’s worth checking the Jack’s weblog posts at the bottom of the home page. These are full of his personal take on his journeys. Entertainingly, the one about his trip to Teddington on the Thames includes a series of family and friends photos including his grandfather Arthur Lowe and the cast of Dad’s Army, among others.

My thanks to Malcolm Woods for spotting this one!


Lifeboat hero Henry Blogg passed away 60 years ago today


When Henry Blogg retired in 1947, after 53 years service and at age 71, 11 years past the usual retiring date, he had been coxswain for 38 years of his service, during which he had launched 387 times and rescued 873 people. The photo above is from the Wikimedia.

Blogg is often referred to as ‘the greatest of the lifeboatmen’. Through a career that began in 1917 and included his near drowning in a service to the SS English Trader in 1941, he was awarded the gold medal of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution three times and the silver medal four times, the George Cross, the British Empire Medal, and a series of other awards.

On his retirement, Blogg’s nephew ‘Shrimp’ Davies took over as coxswain. Here’s a link to Shrimp talking… And here’s another to Shrimp and the rest of his crew having a beer and a bit of step dancing.

Old Henry is still remembered in Cromer – there’s the splendid monument pictured above, and the town also has its RNLI Henry Blogg Museum.

My thanks to Malcolm Woods for reminding me of this anniversary.

Row St Kilda has started

Row St Kilda crew practising

Great good luck you lot! The row St Kilda crew practising

They’ve set off – the 100-mile fund-raising row from Village bay St Kilda to Portree on the Isle of Skye in an open rowing boat built around 1890 began earlier today.

The rowers are raising funds for the RNLI and Skye & Lochalsh Young Carers. The link for donations is here; their website is here, the BBC has a story here, and track their progress here.

I wonder whether they’ll do it all again next year?