As we entered the lift and rattled our way to the clifftop, the wind chased behind and made sure that we could barely lay claim to our own breath.
The perpetual cavalry of rolling waves carried the breeze on its back, delivering it in giant slabs to the slipway below us.
There were no real gusts, just the relentless, unerring reminder that we were in a wild location — Lizard Point, home to the most southerly RNLI lifeboat station on the UK mainland.
By documenting every RNLI lifeboat station on the network, I’m weaving my way around our nation’s extraordinary coastline.
Along the route, I’ve already encountered extremities; lifeboat stations that could not only be considered as outposts but also as defining landmarks in the RNLI’s infrastructure. Perhaps akin to the key stars in a constellation; they define the overall shape, yes, but look more closely and there’s a whole lot more going on between them!
The Lizard is a good example, for sure, and one that gave me the distinct feeling of simply being at the edge — a geographical sensation I find thrilling.
In making the photographs there, I had to quickly get used to the most challenging logistics so far. Much of those logistics involved gently clattering up and down the 140ft cliff face in the spectacular purpose-built lift.
Time spent in that mesh box not only provided an understanding of the station’s context within such a special stretch of coastline, it also offered me a fresh perspective on how the Project was beginning to shape up.
In those moments — usually clutching a plate holder laden with glass and silver nitrate — I reflected on three of the defining landmarks now documented by the Project:
- Lowestoft, the most easterly lifeboat station on the entire RNLI network;
- Sennen Cove, the most westerly lifeboat station on the English mainland;
- The Lizard, the southern-most lifeboat station on the UK mainland.
With those three stations now under the Project’s belt, it’s a satisfying indicator that this huge body of work is beginning to come together.
Other stations beckon at the very edges of the RNLI. Check out the interactive Mission Map to see if you can locate them:
- Aith, the most northerly;
- Valentia, the most westerly;
- St. Helier, the most southerly.
In short, I can’t wait…
ONE MORE SHEET IN THE BOX…
Towards the end of the day at The Lizard, I’d just one more sheet of glass in the box.
The scheduled photographs were made but I’d been entranced by the view looking north from the slipway all day. It looked prehistoric, touched by nothing other than the merciless elements for thousands upon thousands of years.
I couldn’t resist one more trip to and from Neena, up and down the cliff face; a glass plate of the scene made today would surely look so similar to the same scene recorded in the 1850s, when wet plate collodion was first invented…
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BEHIND-THE-SCENES: AS FEATURED IN THE PROJECT’S DIARY ON INSTAGRAM