I had the pleasure this August of meeting Charles and Primrose Bright, from Melbourne Australia, at their London flat, together with Peter Day, a Welsh wreck diver (amongst other things) who is passionate about the Royal Charter ship. Charles and Primmy had visited the site of the infamous “golden wreck” at Moelfre in Anglesey the previous summer and at the memorial overlooking the cliffs had got into conversation with the elderly retired Rector of nearby Llanallgo church, Revd Canon Dr Graham Loveluck. They had talked about that terrible storm of 1859 when hurricane force winds drove the helpless ship onto the rocks at Moelfre, almost in sight of its destination Liverpool, carrying many families and fortune hunters home from Melbourne at the height of the gold rush in “under 60 days”. Only 40 of the 490 passenger and crew survived despite the ship being only 25 yards from shore and the efforts of local Moelfre men, with no women of children amongst the survivors. Many of the bodies were buried at the Llanallgo church, now ofter referred to as the Royal Charter Church.
The Royal Charter ship was owned by Gibbs, Bright & Co, and was the sister of their other renowned iron sail and steam ship, the SS Great Britain, providing the fastest luxury (for some) passage between Britain and Australia.
Peter Day, who is strongly involved with the local church and community, came to hear from Revd Loveluck of this encounter with descendants from the owners of this ill fated ship. After many searches and efforts to track Charles Bright down in Australia, he finally made contact and found that Charles was again over in Britain this summer. Peter was keen to learn more about the owners of the ship and to record an interview of the families histories and how they came to be so involved in the passenger ship business with Australia. Charles contacted Rachel Gibbs in search of a willing Gibbs counterpart.
And so it came to pass that the four of us gathered in London, together with Peter’s video photographer and recorded an interview relating the early maritime histories of our respective families and the numerous links between the families.
Primmy has been researching the Bright family history over many years, digging into their extensive archives and will shortly be publishing a book on them. Gibbs, Bright & Co. was founded in 1770 by Antony’s elder brother, George, with Robert Bright, and pre-dates Antony Gibbs & Sons who eventually took them over in 1881.