The Ecclefechan, built as an iron 4-masted ship, was ordered by McDonald Hood and Co Ltd from the Robert Duncan and Co Ltd. Port Glasgow shipyard but was sold to Thomas Guthrie of Glasgow before her launch on 13th August 1882. Ownership transferred to Robert Guthrie and James Young in 1899 and shortly after she was converted to a barque. She measured 290.7′ x 42.2′ x 23.8′ and weighed 2105 gross tons. She operated on worldwide routes mainly to the Far East for her owners bringing valuable general cargoes to the consumers of Great Britain. In September 1898, while en route from San Francisco to London with wheat, she ran ashore at Dunworley Point, Clonakilty Bay in the south of Ireland but, on this occasion, she was lucky and successfully refloated an repaired.
In February 1900 she was to run ashore again and this time she would not be so lucky. On 22nd October 1899 she left Chittagong with a cargo of 3050 tons of jute for Dundee. She was commanded by George Edward Hind and had a crew of thirty. The long journey went well with various stopovers en route. She reached the English Channel passing the Bishop Rock Lighthouse in the evening of 15th February. After sailing through the Straits of Dover she turned north of the last leg of her voyage. By the 22nd she was off Longstone and almost within sight of her destination on the Tay. The weather was fine and clear with a moderate breeze from the south east, a perfect wind to complete her voyage to Dundee.
At midnight the master altered course from his current NNW turning slightly more to port to bring him towards the entrance to the Tay estuary. Soon after this the weather began to deteriorate with a mist reducing visibility, but Hind, who had made this same course many times, did not reduce sail and kept his speed at maximum, undoubtedly anxious to complete the long voyage as soon as possible. At 2.40am he made a further westerly adjustment despite not having seen St Abbs Head Light to give him a better view of his position. Ignoring advice from his fist mate that it might be better to stand off until daylight or at least until visibility improved enough to catch a light and verify their position. Shortly after they spotted racks and surf straight ahead and the ship crashed ashore at Skateraw near Dunbar. The ship’s distress flares were quickly answered by Dunbar Rocket Brigade but unfortunately their line to the ship snapped and it was decided it was too risky to try to evacuate the ship this way. The Dunbar lifeboat arrived and safely took off most of the crew leaving the mater, chief mate, a steward and a young apprentice aboard till morning. They were then taken off by a tug which reached the scene as daylight broke.
The ship was to become a total wreck defying multiple attempts to refloat her over subsequent days. The master was found to be entirely responsible for the loss of his ship failing to take due care to establish his position in poor visibility either by taking bearings from visible lights of even taking the precaution to use his lead. His certificate was suspended for six months.
There is some scattered wreckage reported at position 55° 58.750’N, 02° 25.500’W in shallow water but little remains as she was undoubtedly heavily salvaged after her loss.