Women of the RNLI at The National Maritime Museum PUBLIC POST

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All the way back in March 2015, I wrote a blog post called Postcard From Essex.

It seems very rudimentary in hindsight compared to the kind of missives I write these days. However, there’s an important aspect to it that’s pertinent to an imminent milestone on the project’s timeline.

In those moments, I’d just made a portrait with Leafy Dumas at West Mersea RNLI lifeboat station on the Essex coast.

At that time, I was only a couple of months into my coastal odyssey but I’d already clocked that I was working within yet another male-dominated arena.

Female lifeboat crew seemed few and far between, so when I met Leafy it occurred to me that I had an opportunity to shine a light on the women of the RNLI and raise awareness of the fact that they’re carrying out the same lifesaving work alongside their male colleagues.

I hoped it would encourage more women to volunteer at their local lifeboat station. If so, that would surely be a positive thing to do.

Making Leafy’s portrait was going to become a bigger development than I could ever have dreamed or realised, though, not least as it’s now become a body of work in itself with over 60 portraits in the project’s Women of the RNLI web gallery.

The Lifeboat Station Project by Jack Lowe
Julianne and Rosalyn, Filey, Yorkshire, North England

However, it’s gone one huge step further lately in that a 9-month exhibition of the same name showcasing some of those portraits is about to open at The National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, London.

Even though this exhibition has been in the making for so long, I must confess that it feels odd writing those words. After all, in my bolshier youth, I even used to have a paragraph on the About page of this very site in which I explicitly said that I imagined I would one day exhibit the work at The National Maritime Museum, yet here we are…it’s actually happening and the Museum staff have excelled themselves!

Over the last 15 months or so, The National Maritime Museum have acquired 81 limited edition prints from the project for their collection, 42 of which will be on display in the Women of the RNLI exhibition to help commemorate the RNLI’s 200th anniversary:


What’s more, the NMM have also borrowed two of my glass plates for the exhibition, one of which is the original 12×10 inch glass plate of Leafy Dumas (the other depicts the view from West Mersea RNLI lifeboat station).

I’m proud beyond words that the NMM are showcasing The Lifeboat Station Project to coincide with the RNLI’s 200th anniversary. I’m particularly pleased that Women of the RNLI is the chosen theme for this special exhibition, championing and highlighting the role of women within the charity, just as I hope and intend to achieve while making the project.

It really is an honour to know that my photographs are now sitting alongside some of the great artworks and artefacts from our maritime heritage, and I’m sure the extraordinary people within the photographs will feel similarly.

After all, I couldn’t have made this work without them, so it feels like the ultimate reward for all involved — to have such a bright light shone on this aspect of maritime culture, a vital slice of island life that can be taken for granted all too often until moments like this, moments when we are reminded of the greatness of humanity continually on display from the brave, selfless folk of the RNLI.

The exhibition runs from 2nd March to 1st December 2024 — look out for the commemorative postcard pack in the Museum shop too!

More details can be found via the Events page:


On a personal note, I’d like to wholeheartedly thank every single one of the Royal Museums Greenwich team who are the epitome of professionalism and have been a joy to work with throughout.

TRAVEL TIP: One of the best ways to get to Greenwich is by Thames Clipper, which is part of Transport for London. Tap in and out with your contactless card or Oyster Card — just as you would on the tube or the bus — and it takes you directly to Greenwich Pier, a few minutes’ walk from Cutty Sark and The NMM. A great way to see London from the river too!


This website is home to some 700 photographs but if you would like to purchase any of the 42 prints from the Women of the RNLI exhibition, you can buy them directly from a brand new page where I’ve collated them into one place for ease:


I’ve also built a new web gallery dedicated to the exhibition so that you can browse the images on display:



As the RNLI celebrates its 200th anniversary of saving lives at sea, it has been an honour to be asked to be one of the 200 voices representing the charity’s history.

My contribution to the podcast was published over the weekend, so it neatly coincides with the opening of Women of the RNLI at the National Maritime Museum:

In an age of selfies, photographer Jack Lowe uses Victorian methods on his quest to capture lifeboat crew from every RNLI lifeboat station. He tells us why.

Listen here or in your favourite podcast place:


Be sure to listen to episodes 135 and 140 as well, which feature my conversations with Dover’s Tony Hawkins and Kirkwall’s Dupre Strutt respectively.

Ways to support the project:



1. If you enjoyed this post, please click the lifeboat orange heart below to say you were here and feel free to share your thoughts by commenting below.

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3. This is a public blog post — there’s much more to see in the Members’ Area of The LSP Society.

4. If you know somebody else who would enjoy being a member of The LSP Society, you can now gift them membership here!

5. If you haven’t perused the website for a while, head to the homepage for a fresh look.

6. Head to The LSP Shop for prints, posters, postcards, the famous With Courage keyring and more.

7. Finally, if you have any questions about my work, please feel free to contact me.



  1. So pleased to hear you’ve got this far with the incredible effort you’ve put in.

  2. Being a member of the Greenwich Maritime, I will definitely be going to see this RNLI exhibition, and I have been following your progress round the UK and met you at Aberavon, Port Talbot, Wales taking photos a few years ago. Well done to you.


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