On Sunday 18th January, possibly the coldest day on the journey so far, we rocked up at Sheringham Lifeboat Station — the sixth station on the inaugural expedition.
A tight squeeze for Neena, it was perhaps the quirkiest of the eight we visited; nestled tightly into the coast at the end of a long, narrow promenade.
I set about making my first plates depicting the view from the boathouse, complete with fluttering RNLI flag.
Whilst walking about the station, somehow the day felt like it was going to be special.
I didn’t quite know how or why in those early moments, there simply seemed to be a touch of ceremony in the air.
Indeed, Brian Farrow — the Lifeboat Operations Manager (LOM) — was the very first person to answer my initial requests to visit the eight Norfolk and Suffolk stations.
His enthusiasm and sense of pride was infectious.
Brian saw the visit as a rare and unique opportunity to record the station’s crew for posterity.
He was right, of course — it’s unlikely the crew have ever been photographed like this before nor is it likely that it will happen again.
With that in mind, best blues were to be worn for the crew’s portrait and the routine Sunday exercise had even been cancelled to make time for this photograph.
With everybody briefed about the process and organised into position, I must confess to a moment of disbelief.
Focussing through the back of the camera, I turned my head briefly to catch the eye of Jonny, a friend who’d kindly volunteered to help for a couple of days.
I raised my eyebrows as I looked at him, mentally pinching myself. The scene through the camera felt surreal, spine tingling.
These brave, generous folk looked so splendid and proud.
I felt truly honoured to have found myself in a position where I could record such humility, so typical of the RNLI, onto glass for posterity…
THE SENIOR HELMSMAN
Once the crew shot had been made, I spent time with Dave Hagan for my third scheduled photograph.
He’s the Senior Helmsman at Sheringham and I’ve yet to see a person stand so still in front of the camera.
Unfortunately, a digital file on the internet will never get anywhere close to the experience of viewing the glass plates (Ambrotypes) in the flesh.
Just know for the moment — until you see it yourself — that these few seconds of Dave Hagan’s life have such bite, depth and clarity on the 12×10 inch sheet of glass…
50 LIMITED EDITION PRINTS
Just 50 limited edition prints from each of these plates are now available.
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To me, the crew portraits are the Project’s gold dust.
It’s sometimes proving tricky to rally the crew members; after all, they’re volunteers, so it can be hard for them to step away from their jobs for a ‘photo call’.
However, when they do, I’m sure you’ll agree that it’s so worth it as special new photographs are brought into the world for all to enjoy.
I’d like to thank Brian, along with the rest of the crew and staff at Sheringham Lifeboat Station, for making this such a rewarding day for all involved.
Further highlights of the day from my Instagram feed…
Great piece Jack. It was fascinating to see the pictures appear on the glass. Thanks for visiting us.
I had a really wonderful (cold) day! It was fantastic to meet you all in such a stunning location… Jack
It was a brilliant day, amazing to see the pictures appear! And as I said before, we all came away walking a little taller and feeling very proud to have been a small part of such an incredible undertaking. Thank you Jack!
My pleasure and wonderful to read such sentiments. Thank you too! Jack