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Donald Campbell's famous boat Bluebird returns to Coniston Water

By Julian Worker     May 21, 2009 in Sports
Donald Campbell died on Coniston Water in 1967 trying to break his own world water speed record in his boat Bluebird. This boat was an all-metal jet-propelled 3-point hydroplane with a jet engine that produced 3500 lbf of thrust.
On 4th January, 1967, Donald Campbell in his jet-powered boat Bluebird was attempting to break his own world water speed record of 276.33 mph set on 31st December, 1964, at Dumbleyung Lake in Western Australia. In his early January run on Coniston Water in the English Lake District, Campbell achieved speeds in excess of 320mph before a heavy swell caused Bluebird to somersault and cartwheel across the lake, snapping the boat in half and killing Campbell instantly.
Donald Campbell broke eight world speed records in the 1950s and 60s becoming in the process the only person to hold both the land and water records in the same year. His father Sir Malcolm Campbell held 13 world speed records in the 1920s and 30s.
Volunteers eventually recovered the wreck of Bluebird from the depths of Coniston in 2001 and have been restoring it ever since. Now, they have been given permission for one-off speed trials on Coniston Water. Members of the Lake District National Park Authority agreed to allow the trials to assess the restored Bluebird’s performance.
This decision, which has to be submitted for government approval, amends a bylaw banning power vessels from exceeding 10mph on the lake. Boats can exceed the limit if they are trying to set a world record but Bluebird will be restricted to a speed of 100mph.
When Donald Campbell crashed, he was travelling at a speed that exceeds the existing world water speed record of 317.6mph that was set by Ken Warby at Blowering Dam in the Snowy Mountains of New South Wales on 8th October 1978. Warby’s hero was Donald Campbell.
More about Donald campbell, Bluebird, Coniston water, World water speed, Lake district
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