Old photos
New photos
Method of fishing
Peterhead fishing boats past and present
Family fishing heritage
Festival of the sea
About our boat






Many families in the NE of Scotland, have a tradition of having fishermen in their families stretching back for centuries, our family is one of those such families. Today Peter Bruce my brother is skipper of the Budding Rose PD 418, our father Jim, our granddad John Reid (better known to everyone as Jeckie), and our great granddad Tommy Strachan Buchan were all deckhands, then skippers of Peterhead fishing vessels. Tommy’s father John Buchan born in 1851 my great great granddad was also a fisherman who sailed in the whaling ships out of Peterhead. Today this heritage is under threat as never before, please support our fisherman at this time, without your support this heritage could be lost forever. Please read about our family fishing heritage below and you will understand more why this is a cause worth fighting for.
Violet Flower PD 148
Tommy Strachan Buchan our Great Granddad was born in Cairnbulg on 21st March 1873, he was the only son of John Buchan who was also born in Cairnbulg on 11th of October 1846. John went to the whaling out of Peterhead in one of the last whaling ships. It was after one of these trips while walking home along the shore line that John had an attack of appendicitis and tragically died at the age of 27, nine months after Tommy was born. Tommy was brought up in Cairnbulg his first experience of the fishing was when he went away in one of the whaling ships at the age of 12. After that in the late 1800s Tommy sailed with his uncle in the Fifie called the Violet before the days of steam. Tommy moved to Peterhead after he married his wife Jessie Ann Bruce from Peterhead in the late 1800s.

On 1st of April 1910 in Peterhead he gained his Certificate of Competency to be a skipper of a fishing vessel, after gaining his ticket he went on to be skipper of a steam drifter called the Violet Flower Pd 148 built at Scott & Yuill in Fraserburgh in 1914. During the second world war the drifter Violet Flower was requisitioned by the navy, by this time however Tommy had retired from the fishing. In 1946 after the war the Violet Flower was scrapped. Tommy died on January 20th 1956 at the age of 82.

His daughter Chrissie our grandma married Jeckie on the 21st December 1932 at the Methodist church in Peterhead. Jeckie was born on June 17th 1902 and originally came from Crovie a tiny village on the Banffshire coast where he was brought up by his father William “Tommy” Reid a fisherman (William was one of a family of 13 brothers and sisters), and his mother Jane Reid along with his 3 brothers William, Andrew and James and sister Barbara, in a tiny fishing cottage right next to the seashore.

While fishing out of Banff Jeckie gained his Certificate of Competency on the 16th April 1928, he then went to Skipper a coal fired Steam Drifter called Budding Rose BF39 in partnership with his uncle Charlie Reid and a solicitor called Brodie.

Jeckie moved to Fraserburgh then Peterhead after he married Chrissie, where he was skipper of several vessels including the Golden Rod PD10 which he hired in 1938 from the Scottish Steam Fishing Company. The Golden Rod was 86 feet in length and had a Ledgerwood steam engine and was built in Glasgow.

After the war on April 1st 1948 Jeckie skippered and part owned with his brother in law George Buchan, and his wife’s cousin Robert Buchan a motor fishing vessel of over 90 feet in length called the Violet Flower PD 418 (named after his father in laws drifter). The Violet Flower had a 240 horse power Crossley diesel engine and was built at the East Anglican Construction Ltd Oulton Broad near Lowestoft in 1944 during the war as a fire boat for the navy. When she arrived in Peterhead she still had her naval number MFV 1555, and she still had all her fire fighting equipment on her deck. Jeckie had to completely rig her out for the herring drift net and lines.
Jeckie often fished the Lines at the far away grounds of Rockall and Faroe Islands working trips of over 20 days landing mainly Halibut, Cod and Ling. Often when fishing the waters of the Faroe islands in the winter months the Violet Flower was forced to seek shelter in the Faroe Islands for days on end, waiting for a chance for the poor weather to abate so they could continue fishing. A former crewman Stanley Milne remembers one trip where they spent over a week berthed in Torshavn the main port of the Faroe Islands.

As one can imagine the Violet Flower was often caught in some very violent storms will working these grounds, but Stanley and former crewmen Raffe Ritchie who spent over two years berth aboard the Violet Flower both commented that they were never scared in the Violet Flower as had wonderful “seakeep” qualities. Stanley remembers one trip when dodging beside some much bigger boats, who were frightened to turn around afore the wind after doing some damage while attempting to turn previously, however the Violet Flower turned and run a fore the wind without any damage whatsoever.

Although most trips lasted about twenty days, sometimes if the weather was very poor the trips would last up to a month which was especially hard for the crews families as there was no way of letting them know what was happening. The only way they knew the Violet Flower was homeward bound was when my Granma heard my Granda speaking on their wireless when he was in range. Many a long night was spent in those days worrying about their loved ones caught in a storm, not knowing if they were safe or not. Violet Flower at Herring Drift Net
When not at the lines my Granda Jeckie fished the herring drift net out of Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth on the East Norfolk coast from October to November. Like many other families my granma, my mother and her sister Alice “migrated” down there for the length of time the fishing lasted, my mother and Alice remember attending school when staying there. Today many years after the boats ceased fishing there, many friendships still continue between the families of fishermen and their “host” families where they lodged, and friends they met from Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft. It was not only a very hard life in those days for the fishermen who had to haul the nets manually and sail in vessels that had none of the home comforts we are used to today, it was also very hard work for their wives.

My grandma while staying down at Great Yarmouth (and when she was home in Peterhead) had to work in the herring curing yards to make ends meet, and when the Violet Flower returned to her home between herring seasons, she and close family members had also to mend the drift nets. Today my mother Jessie remembers her father taking home the nets, and her mother and relations repairing the nets in the loft of their home at 29 Gladstone Road near the harbour at Peterhead.

The Boothby Trophy
Jeckie was also very well known in fishing circles for winning the Boothy Trophy back in 1956 when skippering another Peterhead vessel MFV Unity with a shot of 236 crans of herring while fishing the inside edge of the Halibut bank 60 miles east of Peterhead. The Boothby trophy was presented along with a set of binoculars and a weather glass to the skipper who landed the biggest catch of herring for a single catch during the fishing season working out of Peterhead. My granda Jeckie died at the age of 56 on December 12th 1958. Today even though it’s over 40 years since his death the older generation of fisher folk still speak highly about him, and how he was well liked by everyone who knew him.

My father
James Bruce my father (better known to everyone as Jim) was born on 10th November 1930 and was a "Gamric" born and bred. A Gamric is a person who comes from the village of Gardenstown (known as Gamrie) on Banffshire coast along the Moray Firth. He was brought up in Gamrie at 2 Craigen Terrace by his father James a fishmerchant and his mother Mabel, along with his two brothers John and George and his four sisters Mabel, Jessie, Nancy and Mary. After leaving Bracoden school at the age of 15, he went right to sea and sailed aboard the BF registered Swiftwing.

After he married Jessie my mother a Peterhead lassie in 1953 they stayed at 9 Great Stuart Street, he sailed in a number of Peterhead boats including the M.B Fertile with Johnny “Jackson” Buchan from June 1954 to December 55, after that he gained his second hands ticket (mates ticket). In 1956 my father in partnership with George “Doddy” Forman, and Philip and Joseph Buchan purchased the Spes Vera PD 358. At the end of 1957 beginning of 1958, my father took time off to gain his Skippers ticket, my Grandad Jeckie who by this time had sold the Violet Flower went skipper in my fathers absence on 27th February 1958 my father gained his skippers ticket. The Spes Vera was eventually sold in 1960 and renamed the Anchor of Hope skippered by Jim Lovie

In 1964 he joined the Shemara for 10 happy years sailing with Jim Pirie acting as relief skipper and deck hand. At this time the Shemara worked the pair-trawl fishing the west coast herring, and the Isle of Man as part of a team of 5 boats which became known throughout the fishing communities as the “big 5”, The 5 boats were the Shemara, Fairweather, Sparkling Star, Ugie Vale and Juneve . The Shemara also returned to work out of Peterhead for a few months working the seine-net between seasons at the herring. I have been told by many other fisherman who sailed with him could turn his hand to anything and during his time aboard these vessels, he acted a relief skipper, mate, engineer and even cook (his speciality was fish and chips).

Budding Rose PD 84 built in Lewis Shipyard Aberdeen

In early 1973 after a period when my father was repeatedly asked to go relief skipper in different boats including William Morgan’s Sundari, after visiting the John Lewis shipyard in Aberdeen with William Morgan (whos new vessel Sundari was building at the time) my father decided to build a new vessel in partnership with the Don fishing company with John Stephen as mate, and Walter Strachan as engineer. In the summer of 1974 while waiting for his new vessel to be completed my father went relief skipper of the Boy Andrew Wk174 working the seine-net very successfully South-east of Peterhead. This was the start of a friendship with Norrie Brebner that was to continue right up to my fathers death, and still continue today. Even though Norrie is now retired he still speaks to my brother Peter at least once a day when hes out fishing to give him all the latest market and fishing news.

On October 4th 1974 at Lewis Shipyard in Aberdeen the 84 foot steel seine-net trawler Budding Rose PD84 was launched. My father fished the herring pair trawl at the west coast grounds, and the seine-net out of Peterhead. In 1975 he was joined by my brother James, and then in 1977 by my brother Peter. Tragically in December 1977 my brother James at the aged of 18 died the result of a car crash along with his girl friend Elaine on the Peterhead to Fraserburgh road. As one can imagine this had a devastating effect on my father, in fact he struggled to come to terms with my brothers death the rest of his life.

Budding Rose PD 284 built at Richard Irvin in Peterhead
In 1978 the steel Budding Rose was sold, and if it had not been for Peter and I being at the fishing (by this time I started my career) my father would not have returned to the fishing. However in 1979 my father in partnership with Peter and I and Caley fisheries bought the three years old wooden 79 feet in length Radiant Way from Fraserburgh. The Radiant Way was built at Richard Irvins in Peterhead 1975, it turned out be the second last boat ever built there as a few years afterwards the yard sadly closed. Immediately after buying the Radiant Way we changed the name again to Budding Rose, instead of the number being PD 84 the number was changed to PD 284. In 1982 my father had to stop the fishing through ill health. Peter at the age of 21 took over as skipper of the Budding Rose with me as mate. Although my father was unable to go to the fishing, he continued to keep a keen interest on us his “boys” as he always referred to us.
For a number of years we fished the Budding Rose at the seine-net and the pair-seine (in the summer months) until it dramatically sank in a force 10 storm in July 23 1988. The rescue was captured on film, as their was a camera crew aboard the helicopter that went out to rescue us. The film was shown on terrestrial television as part of a series called “Rescue” about 202 squadron that flew out RAF Lossiemouth in North of Scotland.

After the Budding Rose sank we had no idea what to do, but with the encouragement of our father we decided to explore the possibility of building a new vessel. After much discussions with several shipyards on Sept 1989 the Bruce family in partnership with fish sales P & J Johnstone a subsidiary of Andrew Marr International signed to build a new steel vessel at Campbeltown Shipyard on the West side of Scotland on the Kintyre Peninsula. We worked closely with the yard who drew up plans for a 80 foot steel seine-net trawler. On a beautifully sunny day on 24th April 1990 the Budding Rose PD 418 slid down the slipway into the waters of Campbeltown Loch to the tunes of “Mull of Kintyre” played by a lone piper. Sadly for my family, and all attending the launch my father and his mother were unable to attend the launch as my father was seriously ill in hospital. Peter and I and the rest of the family members there considered cancelling the launch but were told by my father in no uncertain terms that the launch had to go ahead as if he was in attendance himself.

The Budding Rose was built at Campbeltown shipyard in only 9 months, and to the credit of the workforce, we never lost a days fishing such was the excellent standard of workmanship On the 11th May 1990 we completed her fishing trials and left Campbeltown shipyard bound for a few days fishing to see that everything was working properly, we arrived at our home port in Peterhead after completing the trials successfully. My father health had deteriorated so much since the launch, that he never was able to board the new Budding Rose once she arrived in Peterhead. However prior to the launch with sheer determination and will power, although he was seriously ill he had driven himself and my mother down to Campbeltown, 5 and half hours drive from Peterhead so at least he had seen the Budding Rose well on, although not completely finished. My died on the 4th July that year, he had lived long enough to see his "boys” successfully fishing in their new vessel “Budding Rose PD 418.

Their was only one request that my father made when we were planning the new Budding Rose, and that was it had to have a horizontal blue strip known as a “blue riband” painted around the haul. After the death of my brother James, my father had a blue riband painted on the haul of the wooden Budding Rose. In a days gone bye it was customary for fishermen to paint a thin horizontal blue line along the length of the boat as memorial to close friends or family who had died. Little did we think when we started planning the Budding Rose that the blue riband that we put on the haul after the request by my father, would end up in his memorial as well as my brothers. Today nearly twelve years after his death, the blue riband remains in place, and it’s hoped than it will remain in place for years to come on the Budding Rose PD 418, if allowed to do so by politicians who in most cases cannot tell the difference between a haddock and a herring, all they are interested in is gaining political capital at the expense of another.

Please support our local fishing community, or away of life will die for ever.