Donald Campbell CBE was the holder of world land and water speed records
and died in Coniston lake on January 4 1967 while trying to break his
Possibly striking a log the jet powered Bluebird had disintegrated at
around 300 miles an hour.He is said to have yearned to emulate his father
Sir Malcolm Campbell, in setting speed records on land and on water.
He had broken the world water speed record seven times in 10 years when
the accident happened.
Having hit 202.32mph on Ullswater in July 1955, he bettered it on December
31, 1964, at Dumbleyung Lake, Australia when he reached 276.33mph.
His penchant for record breaking brought him back to Coniston for a final
His last reported words heard over the intercom were: Shes
going, shes going.
In December 2000 divers testing underwater cameras came on the
wreckage. Underwater surveyor, Bill Smith found the wreck at 150 feet
half buried in silt. Donald Campbells body was never found at the
time of the tragedy. In March 2001 Bluebird was recovered from the lake
bed . Campbell's widow Tonie Bern Campbell, 64 watched it emerge from
the lake. The tail was undamaged but the front cockpit area was completely
The Coniston Institute and Ruskin Museum Charitable Trust now want to
provide a permanent home for the remains of Bluebird and are seeking permission
for a 10m by 10m extension to the Museum to house it. The application
is supported by a letter from the Curator of the museum stating that Bluebird
is part of Conistons heritage and the people of Coniston "believe
most strongly" that the craft belongs in the town as a "permanent
memorial to a great British hero".
Pictured right : Bluebird
, Donald Campbell’s record-
with on the left Chris Panton,
Area Sales Manager,
AkzoNobel Cromadex Ne
wcastle, and on
the right Bill Smith,
leader of the Bluebird Project
In August 2001 the Barrow in Furness coroner decided that based on DNA
evidence the remains found near the wreck of Bluebird were those of the
late Donald Campbell. His daughter, Gina Campbell, 51, from Leeds, can
at last officially hold an official service following the loss of her
father, who died when she was just 17.
DNA tests taken from her and compared with the remains found in the water
were confirmed as matching.
The funeral service at Coniston Parish Churchyard took place in September
2001. Donald Campbell has finally been given a permanent headstone on
the edge of Coniston Water 35 years after his death. Family, friends and
those involved in the salvage of the record-breaking Bluebird, were present
at the moving service in St Andrew's Church, Coniston.
The headstone features a carved bluebird and replaces the temporary stone,
which has been moved to the Bluebird Cafe. The salvage team is to bring
back a fully working and faithfully
restored Bluebird and house it in Cumbria but lacks the funding.
The restoration project could take up to three years.
In June 2007..A government quango approved a £250,000 grant towards
extending the Ruskin Museum in Coniston so it can house Donald Campbells
jet-powered boat Bluebird K7.The grant
is one third of the £750,000 which the Ruskin Museum needs to give
Bluebird a permanent home in the village once it has been fully restored.
The award comes in the 40th anniversary year of Donald Campbells
death on Coniston Water. Cumbria Vision is the organisation that is leading
the economic regeneration of the County and awards grants to projects
that will help to boost the Cumbrian economy.
The Bluebird Project volunteer team has worked tirelessly for two
years reconstructing Bluebird from her shattered remains recovered from
the depths of Coniston Water. The boat was successfully trial- assembled
in September 2008 and now, with the backing of world-class sponsorship,
her final construction to full working order will commence on Wednesday.
Work to complete the hull is expected to take twelve months. Bluebird
already has a purpose-built wing awaiting her at the Ruskin Museum in
Coniston, Cumbria and in November the Lake District National Park Authority
voted to pass an application for permission to operate Bluebird under
her own power on Coniston Water in 2010 to public consultation. For
information on the real K7 Bluebird project: The
Bluebird Project website
Recommended site giving more historic background and fascinating photographs
from the Illustrated London News on Bluebird
and Donald Campbell.
Bluebird had been in storage in the northeast since she was
raised from the bed of Coniston Water in
March 2001 by a team of divers led by Bill Smith of Newcastle. Now Lake
District planners have approved plans
to extend the villages Ruskin Museum to house the boat in a permanent
exhibition celebrating the record-breaking achievements of Donald Campbell
and his father, Malcolm. Applicants the Coniston Institute and Ruskin
Museum Charitable Trust were granted permission to build a 33ft by 33ft
extension to the museum.
In November 2005 Christian del Castillo crashed his boat during Records
Week on lake Coniston,The accident took place in almost exactly the same
spot where Donald Campbell died trying to break his own world record in
1967. Del Castillo, who had come to Coniston from his native Bayonne in
southwest France in order to try to set a world record in his F2000 class.
In 2007:On Wednesday 26th September 07 an unprecedented piece of British
engineering will be officially unveiled in the presence of the legendary
speed ace's daughter, Gina Campbell QSO.
Originally constructed by Accles & Pollock in Nelson, Lancashire in
1954, Bluebird's main frame returned to the place of its birth over half
a century later and into the care of Nelson-based PDS Engineering; an
aerospace supplier fully deserving of its distinguished pedigree in the
field of speed-record vehicles.
Bluebird's history will forever be entwined with that of Lancashire's
aerospace-rich manufacturing industry, her hull being completed at nearby
Salmesbury Engineering, later part of BAE Systems.
As modern-day ambassadors to this heritage, PDS were sought to rebuild
the main frame then accurately reunite it with the cockpit section, smashed
off in Campbell's fatal accident and repaired
separately by Kiltech Ltd, precision fabricators of North Shields, Tyne
The rebuilt frame is a masterful blend of ingenuity and engineering excellence
as it represents the first successful application of rigorous museum conservation
ethics whilst engineering an object back
to working condition â “ two disciplines hitherto staunchly
Following two declined applications to the Heritage Lottery Fund the PDS-led
rebuild team, including experts from BOC (British Oxygen Co.)
and TWI (The Welding Institute), worked thousands of man-hours free of
charge to painstakingly reconstruct the frame whilst retaining over ninety-eight
percent of the original material recovered from the
depths of Coniston Water.
So committed is the Bluebird-Project to using only original components
that a four-month salvage operation took place earlier this year to recover
the last, missing piece of cockpit frame, which
is now incorporated into the completed structure.
Bluebird's frame stands almost entirely original and fully serviceable,
a unique landmark in the history of conservation and with refurbishment
completed the frame is about to return to Tyneside
where reassembly of the boat will commence.
The Bluebird-Project team is rebuilding Donald Campbell's boat, not as
a static museum piece, but to full working order as a living exhibit for
future generations to marvel at. This week's events
represent a major milestone on that journey.
The 8 metre frame will be collected from PDS' workshops around 09.00 on
Wednesday morning and transported by road to the Bluebird-Project HQ on
Tyneside for the next stage of work to begin.
Personally overseeing the move will be Donald Campell's daughter, Gina,
a fierce supporter of the project to bring her father's boat back to life
who has naturally placed such a significant event firmly on her itinerary.
Gina will attend both PDS and the Bluebird-Project HQ as the day progresses
to meet and personally thank many of the people involved in making this
ambitious endeavour a thrilling reality For more information on the project
In 2018 international coatings firm AkzoNobel helped trace the true blue
colouring for Bluebird..Find
out more here.
The quest for speed continues...November 2006 and...A councillor has entered the record
books after driving his powerboat at an average speed of 138mph. Ted Walsh,
40, a conservative county councillor for Cartmel, achieved a new national
and world record for the S3000 powerboat category on Coniston Water. He
achieved the feat as part of annual Records Week, which has been held
at the lake for the last two years. Mr Walsh beat the previous record
of 132mph in his boat "TerrorDACtyl". He said he loved "flying"
over the water. The annual power boat Speed Records Week had been held
on Windermere since the 1970s, but an enforced 10mph (16km/h) speed limit
forced it to move to Coniston two years ago.