Record-breaking Bluebird boat returns after more than 80 years

Sir Malcolm Campbell's legendary Bluebird K3 hydroplane powerboat returned to the water more than 80 years after breaking a world water-speed record.

Karl Foulkes-Halbard pilots Sir Malcolm Campbell's hydroplane powerboat Bluebird K3, during a test run on Bewl water in Kent. Picture: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire
Karl Foulkes-Halbard pilots Sir Malcolm Campbell's hydroplane powerboat Bluebird K3, during a test run on Bewl water in Kent. Picture: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire

After nearly 27 years of restoration the 23-foot long boat was let loose at Bewl Water reservoir in Lamberhurst, Kent, with Karl Foulkes-Halbard at the wheel.

Having enlisted in the British Army for World War One as a motorcycle dispatch rider, Sir Malcolm transferred his skills to Grand Prix motor racing in the 1920s. He set various land speed records, becoming the first person to break the 300mph mark at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah in 1935 with a speed of 301mph.

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Sir Malcolm, who died in 1948 aged 63, switched attention to water and set three world records in the 1930s.

People turned out to see the Bluebird return to the water. Picture: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire

In 1937 Lake Maggiore on the Swiss-Italian border proved a popular destination with two water-speed records set before a third in 1938 at Lake Hallwyl in Switzerland, reaching 130.91mph.

The boat, which was originally built on the Isle of Wight, was bought by the Foulkes-Halbard family in 1988 and has been par of the family’s collection at Filching Manor Motor Museum near Eastbourne.

Due to the extensive damage to the craft various repairs have been carried out making it water-ready.

The Foulkes-Halbard family has spent nearly 27 years restoring the boat. Picture: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire
Sir Malcolm Campbell's hydroplane powerboat Bluebird K3 is lowered into the water before a test run on Bewl water in Kent. Picture: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire
People turned out to see the Bluebird return to the water. Picture: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire
The Foulkes-Halbard family has spent nearly 27 years restoring the boat. Picture: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire
Sir Malcolm Campbell's hydroplane powerboat Bluebird K3 is lowered into the water before a test run on Bewl water in Kent. Picture: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire