Dates set for record-breaking Bluebird’s return to Coniston Water

Record-breaking hydroplane Bluebird K7 is set to return to its spiritual home in the Lake District next summer.

The jet-powered boat will provisionally undergo trials on Coniston Water in Cumbria between July 19 and 28, said the Bluebird Event Working Group.

Its pilot, Donald Campbell, died on January 4 1967 aged 45 when Bluebird flipped into the air and disintegrated as he attempted a new water speed record on Coniston Water.

Donald Campbell died in water speed record bid
Donald Campbell died in water speed record bid

In 2001 Campbell’s body – with his race suit intact – and the wreckage of Bluebird were recovered from the depths of the lake and he was buried later that year in the village of Coniston.

Volunteers have been working on the hydroplane’s restoration under the leadership of Tyneside-based engineer Bill Smith.

In August, Bluebird – fitted with a new jet engine – hit speeds of around 150mph during successful tests and crew training on Loch Fad on the Isle of Bute in Scotland.

Anthony Robinson, chairman of the working group and a Bluebird K7 team member in 1967, said next year’s relaunch at Coniston would attract worldwide interest with a festival of events planned.

Bluebird K7 returned to the water in Scotland in August
Bluebird K7 returned to the water in Scotland in August

Following the trials and decommissioning, he said Bluebird would be ready to go into the purpose-built Bluebird Wing of the Ruskin Museum in the heart of the village.

Mr Robinson said: “The restored Bluebird K7 will be an inspirational exhibit to all who view her in the Ruskin Museum – especially the younger members of our society, who can learn from and be inspired by both the craft’s marvellous historic achievements and the bravery of her iconic pilot Donald Campbell, who drove her, and the engineering skills of the team who have restored her.”

Campbell broke eight world speed records on water and on land in the 1950s and 1960s.

In his fatal record attempt, the son of Sir Malcolm Campbell, who himself held land and water speed records, had set himself a target of reaching 300mph (480kph) on Coniston Water.