The steel steamship Brightside was launched from the Queensferry yard of Abdela-Mitchell on 10th June 1930. She measured 142.2′ x 25.2′ x 11.5′ and her tonnage was 476 gross tons, 189 net tons. She was powered by a compound steam engine by Abdela-Mitchell delivering 69 registered horse power.
Built for the Eltham Shipping Co Ltd of Wallasay she was first registered in Liverpool. A number of ownership changes followed before she was acquired by her final owners, Robert Taylor and Son Ltd of Dundee in February 1946.
On 23rd September 1949 she was en route from London to Inverness with a cargo of Cement under the command of Captain J Hopper who had a crew of nine men aboard. As she steamed north passing Aberdeen she was enveloped in a thick fog forcing skipper Hopper to slow his progress feeling his way through the gloom. At around 5am on 24th they ran aground with no warning. The skipper had a rough idea where they were but had clearly lost his way so was not certain and was therefore unsure about the safety of an evacuation shore.. The vessel was being pounded by a large swell and, as such, he ordered the men into the ship’s boat for fear that she would break up. Before leaving his ship he jammed the siren on hoping that this would attract the attention of someone ashore. The men were to drift aimlessly in the fog and darkness for five hours.
Meanwhile, the noise of the siren had indeed raised the alarm and the men of the Collieston lifesaving rocket brigade were called out to head to the scene. The position of the stranding, which turned out to be at Hackley Bay which is a mile and half south of the village of Colliestion, was isolated so the men had to haul their equipment by tractor to reach the shore above the stranded vessel. When they finally reached the wreck they could see that it was deserted so the coastguard was alerted that the men were most likely afloat in their boar somewhere nearby. An alert was issued to all local shipping and the Peterhead lifeboat set out to search for them, Luckily, when the fog lifted for a short period, the Fife drifter Noontide spotted the men in the boat and pulled alongside lifting the ten men one by one to safety. They then proceeded to Aberdeen dropping the men off to be looked after at the Seaman‘s Mission on Mearns Street.
It was hoped that the Brightside might be saved. Later that day salvors arrived on site and reported the vessel lying with the bow towards land with a five degrees list to port and the deck and handrails awash. She was moving considerably on the rocks making it impossible to board the wreck for a more detailed inspection. Two days later they finally managed to board her but reported all compartments awash and much damage to the key bulkheads. Hope of recovery gradually disappeared and she was abandoned as a total wreck on 17th October.
We would like to thank Lloyd’s Register Foundation – Heritage & Education Centre for allowing us to reproduce documents from their archive in this article.