Family Fishing Heritage


Old whaling vessel
Old PD 418 'Violet Flower'
New PD 418 'Budding Rose'


Like many families in the NE of Scotland, our family has a tradition of having fishermen in their family stretching back for centuries. Today, my brother Peter, is skipper of the Budding Rose PD 418.  Before him our father, Jim, granddad, John Reid, better known to everyone as "Jakie" and great granddad, Tommy Strachan Buchan, have all been deckhands, then skippers of Peterhead fishing vessels.   Tommy’s father, John Buchan born in 1851, our great great granddad, was also a fisherman who sailed in the whaling ships out of Peterhead. 




Arthur Conan Doyle manuscript
PD 148


John Buchan my great great grandad (mothers side) went to the whaling out of Peterhead in one of the last whaling ships. Tragically it was after one of these trips, whilst walking home along the shore line, that John had an attack of appendicitis and died on 2nd December 1873 at the age of 27, nine months after Tommy my great grandad was born. 

We believe John had sailed on the Whaling Ship SS. Hope, the same vessel which Arthur Conan Doyle  the author of Sherlock Holmes novels sailed out of Peterhead 8 years later in 1880 at the age 21 to work as doctor for 6 months. During the trip Arthur Conan Doyle wrote the famous book Dangerous Work: Diary of an Arctic Adventure.



Tommy Strachan Buchan
PD 95
Jessie Ann Stephen Bruce


Tommy Strachan Buchan, our Great Granddad, was born in Cairnbulg on 21st March 1873, the only son of John Buchan, as mention Tommy was only nine months old when his dad my Great Great Grandad died.

Tommy was brought up in Cairnbulg and his first experience of the sea was when he went away in one of the whaling ships at the age of 12.   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 Stephen Bruce from Buchanhaven, Peterhead, on 16th December 1897.


Skipper Certificate of Competency for Thomas Buchan


On 1st April 1910, in Peterhead, Tommy gained his Certificate of Competency to be a skipper of a fishing vessel.  After gaining his ticket he went on to skipper 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 Tommy had retired from the fishing.   In 1946, after the war, the ‘Violet Flower’ was scrapped.  Tommy died on 20th  January 1956 at the age of 82.


No 63 Crovie where Jakie was brought

Jane Reid prepares to go up country to barter her fish

Jane Reid my Great Granny prepares to go up country to barter her fish

Tommy Reid outside his Fisherman’s cottage

Tommy Reid outside his Fisherman’s cottage


Tommy’s daughter, Chrissie, our grandma, married John Reid (better known as Jakie) on the 21st December 1932 at the Methodist Church in Peterhead. 

Jakie was born on 17th June 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, and his mother, Jane (Nee Anderson) Reid , with his 3 brothers, William, Andrew and James, and sister Barbara, in a tiny fishing cottage right next to the seashore.


Jakie’s Skipper Certificate of Competency

Jakie’s Skipper’s ticket

'Budding Rose' BF 19

'Budding Rose' BF 19

'Golden Rod' PD 10

'Golden Rod' PD 10


While fishing out of Banff, Jakie gained his Certificate of Competency on 16th April 1928;  my grandad then Skippered a coal-fired Steam Drifter called ‘Budding Rose’ BF.39 out of MacDuff, in partnership with his uncle, Charlie Reid, and a solicitor named  A.R.Brodie from Macduff.

Jakie and Chrissie first moved to Fraserburgh then on to Peterhead after they married.  Jakie skippered several vessels, including the ’Golden Rod’ PD10 which he hired in 1938 from the Scottish Steam Fishing Company.     The ‘Golden Rod’, built in Glasgow, was 86ft in length and had a Ledgerwood steam engine.



'Violet Flower' PD 418
'Violet Flower' PD 418


During the war Jakie served in the Royal Navy and served most of his time out in Ceylon, guarding the waters round about.   When he returned home after the war on 1st April 1948, he skippered a motor fishing vessel of over 90 feet in length called the ‘Violet Flower’ PD 418 (named after his father-in-law’s (my great grandad’s steam drifter).  

The ‘Violet Flower’ built in 1944 at the East Anglican Construction, Oulton Broad in Lowestoft, had a 240 horse power Crossley diesel engine.  The ‘Violet Flower’ was built 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.  


Hauling in fishing lines

Hauling the lines


Jakie 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 he 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.



Landing the herring
Hauling the drift net
Chrissie (far left) working in a factory that gutted the herring


When not at the lines, my Granda Jakie 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 Jessie and Auntie 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.



Jakie and the crew of the 'Unity' being presented with the Boothby Trophy
David Lennon, aged 8, who was away with them for a night during his summer holidays
Jakie and the crew of the 'Unity'


Jakie was also very well known in fishing circles for winning the Boothby Trophy back in 1956 when skippering another Peterhead vessel, MFV Unity, with a shot of 236 crans of herring whilst 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, Jakie, died at the age of 56 on 12th  December 1958.  Today even though it’s over 50 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.


Spes Vera Landing in Yarmonth

Spes Vera Landing in Yarmonth

Spes Vera berthed in Peterhead

Spes Vera berthed in Peterhead


James Bruce, our father, better known to everyone as Jim, was born on 10th November 1930 and was a "Gamric" born and bred. 

He was brought up in Gamrie his father James, a fishmerchant. After leaving Bracoden school at the age 15 years he went straight to sea. After he married Jessie, my mother, a Peterhead lassie on the 21st Decemeber 1954 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 1955.   He then gained his second hand’s In 1956 my father, in partnership with George “Doddy” Forman and Philip & Joseph Buchan, purchased the ‘Spes Vera’ PD 358.     At the end of 1957, beginning of 1958, my father took time off to gain his Skipper’s ticket and my Grandad, Jakie, who by this time had sold the ‘Violet Flower’ went skipper in my father’s absence. On 27th February 1958 my father gained his Skipper’s ticket.




In 1964 my father joined the new ‘Shemara’ PD 293 as relief crewman. Later that year he joined the new ‘Shemara’ PD 235,  built at Jones of Buckie, on a permanent basis.   For 10 happy years he sailed with Jim Pirie, acting as relief skipper and deck hand. At first the ‘Shemara’ PD 235 went to the drift net for herring and then seine-net for a few months in the winter. Then they went to the Pair Trawl and worked with 5 other boats are were known as the big 5!!  Those 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.




The launch of Budding Rose PD.84

My Family at the launch of Budding Rose PD.84 I was 12 at time!!

Jim Bruce

My father Jim Bruce

The Budding Rose in the Thames

Budding Rose down in the Thames at a demonstration for 100miles limit in 1977!!


In early 1973, after a period when my father was repeatedly asked to go relief skipper in different boats, including William Morgan’s ‘Sundari’, he visited the John Lewis shipyard in Aberdeen with William Morgan (whose new vessel ‘Sundari’ was building at the time) and he decided to build a new vessel in partnership with the Don fishing Company. He decided to name to boat the Budding Rose after the first boat his Father in laws My Grandad skippered.




Budding Rose under construction


On 4th October 1974, at the 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 as the result of a car crash.   As one can imagine, this had a devastating effect on my father; in fact, he struggled to come to terms with my brother’s death the rest of his life.



Budding Rose PD.284
Budding Rose PD.284


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 had started my career), my father would not have returned to the fishing. However, in 1979, my father in partnership with Peter, myself and Caley fisheries bought the 3-year-old, wooden, 79 feet in length ‘Radiant Way’ from Fraserburgh. The ‘Radiant Way’ was built at Richard Irvins in Peterhead in 1975 and 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.  



Budding Rose rescue
Budding Rose rescue


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 on 23rd July 1988. 

The rescue was captured on film by a camera crew on board the helicopter which went out to rescue us.   They were filming a documentary series for television called “Rescue”   about  202  RAF Squadron  which  flew  out  of  RAF Lossiemouth in the North of Scotland.     It was eventually shown throughout Britain on ITV. This was same crew the filmed the footage of Piper Alpha Tragedy. Which occurred just over 2 weeks before our Rescue on 6th July 1988.




On Tuesday 2nd October 1990 we had the honour of going on to the television programme THIS IS YOUR LIFE with Michael Aspel. Bob Pountney was the winchman on the helicopter which rescued us, and was involved with Rescue some of crew of Piper Alpha. Bob was honoured for a lifetime of service in the RAF and for all rescues he taken part in.



Budding Rose PD.418
Budding Rose PD.418


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, in September 1989, 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. The ‘Budding Rose’ was built at Campbeltown Shipyard in only 9 months, and, to the credit of the workforce, we never lost a day’s fishing, such was the excellent standard of workmanship.    On 11th May 1990 we completed her fishing trials and left Campbeltown Shipyard bound for a few day’s fishing to see that everything was working properly.   We arrived at our home port of Peterhead after completing the trials successfully.   My father’s health had deteriorated so much since the launch that he was never able to board the new ‘Budding Rose’ once she arrived home.  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 father died on 4th July that year.




Budding Rose and Lapwing landing at Peterhead

Budding Rose and Lapwing landing their catch at Peterhead Market

Big haul of cod

Big Haul of Cod alongside the Budding Rose.

Budding Rose steaming in poor day

Budding Rose steaming in poor day

Hauling the catch

Hauling the catch


Nice catch on the market


Peter my brother has now been skipper of Budding Rose PD.418 since it was built in Campbeltown in 1990 so well over 30 years, and still carries on the family fishing tradition which stretches back nearly 150 years. He is still fishing the Budding Rose PD.418 out of Peterhead, and is Pair Seine-netting with the Sunrise FR.359. Peter son Micheal is aboard the Budding Rose with his dad, and skippers the Budding Rose when his father is off. Michael will take over permanently as skipper when his dad retires in the next few years.