Donald Campbell’s ill-fated Bluebird speedboat has been pictured for the first time following a painstaking restoration.
Campbell was killed in 1967 when the Bluebird K7 flipped while travelling at speeds over 300mph. The boat lay at the bottom of Coniston Water in the Lake District for more than 30 years before engineer Bill Smith raised the boat from the deep in 2001 – and he has been toiling to rebuild it since.
A dedicated team, led by Mr Smith, is preparing to launch the craft on the Isle of Bute’s Loch Fad for crew training and handling trials, from tomorrow until 16 August.
Many people, including Campbell’s daughter, Gina Campbell, want the trials to take place on Coniston Water.
These pictures show the Bluebird ready to take to the water once again following 17 years of a painstaking labour of love.
Mr Smith said: “I’m looking forward to it in sort of the way you would look forward to major surgery.”
Following the training, the boat will be returned to the workshop in Tyneside for further work before it is ready for proving trials next year.
Around a dozen crew members brought Bluebird back into operation and it will be piloted by professional hydroplane pilot Ted Walsh.
Mr Smith only plans to aim for speeds of around 65mph for demonstration purposes.
Lake District National Park team leader Steve Tatlock wished the Bluebird Project team well for its training on Loch Fad. He said: “We remain committed to supporting this ambition and hope to see Bluebird K7 return on Coniston Water in the future.”
Campbell began using his father Sir Malcolm Campbell’s old boat, Bluebird K4, but after a structural failure at 170mph in 1951 he developed the Bluebird K7. In 1967, Campbell – the only person to hold both the world land and water speed records simultaneously – died during his second attempt to break his own record.
Royal Marine divers located the craft at the bottom of the lake, but it was kept under wraps for decades.
Campbell first broke the record in 1955 with a speed of 202mph. That rose to 260mph by 1959. By 1966, his record stood at 276mph.
Although he reached a speed over 300mph in the fateful 1967 attempt, he did not beat his previous record as he failed to complete the journey.
He remains the only person to set both world land and water speed records in the same year, in 1964.
In total, he set seven world water speed records in K7 between 1955 and 1964.