Launched from the yard of J. Fullerton & Company of Paisley (Yard No.157) in October 1900 the rear engined coaster Truda measured 142.5’ x 23.6’ x 10.0′ and tonnages were 349 gross, 105 net. She was powered by a 2 cylinder compound steam engine by W. V. V. Lidgerwood of Coatbridge delivering 63 horse power. The Truda had been built to the order of William E. Gilmour of Alexandria, Dumbartonshire, although managed by William Smith in Glasgow. The vessels official number was 113921.
In late February 1903 a series of storms swept across Great Britain causing much damage to infrastructure, transport and loss of live. The most ferocious of these, quoted in the national press as being of ‘exceptional violence’ passed through on Friday 26 February 1903, and the Solway Firth was to feature with the tragic loss of a steamer and four of her crew.
The Truda was wrecked on Barlocco Island, Kirkcudbright during the height of the storm which was recorded as blowing at storm force across the Irish Sea and Solway Firth. The vessel which was in ballast, had left Whitehaven for Port Talbot fully a week ago, but owing to stormy weather had made for Ramsey Bay, Isle of Man for shelter. She left Ramsey the previous evening and encountered the full force of the storm. Captain MacLeod tried to make for Kirkcudbright Bay, but could not get a bearing or even see the Ross Light, and was driven further north, and with limited steerage, onto Barlocco Island.
Those ashore could see a steamer offshore and sent a telegram to request the assistance of the Kirkcudbright lifeboat, but owing to the sea state it could not leave port. A message was then sent to Whithorn which was better placed to make an attempt at a rescue. Their lifeboat was immediately launched and they rowed across to the casualty in unimaginable sea conditions. The sea state prevented them getting alongside the Truda, even after many attempts and they were exhausted. A group of five men went out in a large yawl from the Kirkcudbright shore which was partly protected by the rocks around the island. They were able to make a gallant rescue of the five crew remaining aboard, it was later confirmed that four had been drowned. The crew that were saved were – Captain MacLeod; A. Henderson, Ardnamurchan, first mate; George Wright, London, fireman; Hugh McCartney, Carnlough, sailor; and George Spencer of Hull, fireman.
The survivors were soon taken to Kirkcudbright where they were looked after by a Mr Muir of the Shipwrecked Mariners Society. Bodies of two of the drowned sailors were recovered the following day. A gravestone can be found in Kirkandrews Old Kirkyard few kilometres from Barlocco Island which was provided by the parishioners of Borgue, in memory of Thomas Brown, James Duffy, Albert Gough, and Frank White, who lost their lives by the wreck of the Steamer “Truda“, on Barlocca Island, on 26th February 1903.
The Truda was written off as a constructive total loss, and the vessel put up for auction which was held in Glasgow on Thursday 19 March 1903. We are not aware of the outcome but it is likely the wreck was sold and dismantled in-situ. Any wreckage on the outer southern side of Barlocco Island in approximate position 54° 48.389’N 04° 12.708’W may well be the remains of the Truda.
For their bravery and saving the lives of the five crew aboard the Truda, the RNLI made a financial award of £7 – 5s to the eleven men from Kirkcudbright, who on hearing of the wreck transported their boat over two miles and launched at Fleet Bay. Five of their number set off and successfully made the rescue. A letter of thanks also went to a Mr Douglas who lent a horse and cart to aid transport of the boat and men.