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  Wednesday, 4 January 2006



Thank goodness common sense has prevailed. Up and down the country there are many replicas of the K7 Bluebird on display in museums and private collections - and very good they are too.  We don't need another one.


There is only one original K7 and that is a piece of industrial archaeology that should be preserved as it was on the day of the fateful accident at Coniston Water.  That is the view endorsed by our surfers and the leading experts in the field.


Donald Campbell and the Bluebird K7 story were made that much more a part of our heritage due to the fateful crash.  The crash was the last curtain to the career of this dashing speed ace.  If the craft were to be re-constructed, that part of the story would be lost forever.  It would be as if we were re-writing history and with a magic wand bringing the stars of the show back to life.  A rebuilt vessel would certainly be the cause of some confusion.  People might begin to wonder if the crash actually took place.  



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Whether you agree that the K7 should be preserved as it is "warts and all", or if you would like to see the boat rebuilt, we should like to hear from you.  Please use the contact email below.


Should this hydroplane be rebuilt, the public and experts would never be able see or learn from the evidence as new analytical techniques are developed.  Additionally, there is always the danger some maverick might attempt to run the vessel again, and may well suffer a similar fate.  Food for thought.


It is understood the K7 is privately controlled by Gina Campbell, and other relatives of Donald and Sir Malcolm Campbell.


Email:   bluebird@bluebird-electric.net


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THE daughter of Donald Campbell is threatening to sell the wreck of Bluebird K7 on internet auction site eBay after falling out with Lottery funding bosses. Gina Campbell is also considering putting the jet-powered Bluebird back into the Cumbrian lake where it crashed.


Donald Campbell died in Coniston Water in the Lake District in 1967 while trying to break his own world water speed record.



Gina Campbell and the Bluebird K7


The wreck of the craft was discovered by Bill Smith, a local diver and raised from Coniston Water in 2001. It has languished in the Smith's workshop for the last four years.


Ms Campbell wants the boat to be restored to her former glory but the Lottery Heritage Fund wants it to remain partially damaged.


The HLF believes the crash is the most important aspect of the boat's history and it should be displayed partially damaged. It is only willing to contribute towards a partial reconstruction of the shell and earlier this year turned down a request for almost £1 million to pay for a full restoration of the boat.


Ms Campbell told a BBC documentary: "I can have her encased in concrete and put it back in the lake or we put it on eBay and sell it to the highest bidder. "It will not go on public display as it is, I will not allow it," said Ms Campbell. "I want her to look shiny, bright, engineering perfect. I want the young people from all over the world to be able to come and view her in the museum, in Coniston where she can be displayed as she should be so she can show what she achieved, what my father achieved and what British engineering achieved.


"That's my dream and I won't settle for anything less."

But Tony Jones, of the HLF, said a full rebuild would destroy the boat's originality and sense of history.


"We don't think people want to see a replica-like Bluebird, they want to see the original that Donald Campbell had his triumphs and tragedy in," he said. Mr Smith's response was: "A rotted pile of scrap will not adequately tell the story of the most glorious water-speed-record contender in history either."




Bluebird K7 - HLF statement

November 2 2005

Tony Jones, Heritage Lottery Fund Manager for the North West, commented:

"We were asked for almost £1 million of Lottery money to rebuild what would effectively be an expensive reproduction. We absolutely agree that the Bluebird and Campbell Family story has a special place in our history but this expensive rebuild did not represent good value for money. We are still talking to the Ruskin Museum about other ways of telling this fascinating story."


The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) was unable to support an application from the Ruskin Museum in Cumbria for the acquisition, restoration and display of the Bluebird K7 to full working order in March 2005. We have advised the applicant – the Ruskin Museum - that a conservation-led approach towards the restoration of Bluebird K7, leading to an interesting display in controlled conditions at the Ruskin Museum and celebrating the achievements she represents, is more likely to attract HLF funding support in the future. We had a very constructive meeting with the Museum in August to explore ways of taking this forward.

HLF has invested over £35.4million into Cumbria and will continue to support heritage-led projects in the region.

Notes to Editors HLF grants in Cumbria include a previous award to the Ruskin Museum of £629,000 to preserve the collection of Ruskin watercolours and allow better interpretation and management of the collection. Blackwell House, Conishead Priory and The Wordsworth Trust have all benefited from HLF grants in the past 10 years.

The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) enables communities to celebrate, look after and learn more about our diverse heritage. From our great museums and historic buildings to local parks and beauty spots or recording and celebrating traditions, customs and history, HLF grants open up our nation’s heritage for everyone to enjoy. We have supported more than 16,000 projects, allocating £3.3billion across the UK.


Please contact Katie Owen on 020 7591 6036/07973 613820 or Nicky Price on 0207 591 6046/ 7968 481170 at the HLF press office.









Email:   bluebird@bluebird-electric.net








Thirty nine years after the crash which killed water speed hero Donald Campbell, there are fresh hopes his boat Bluebird K7 could be restored and on display by 2008.


Mr Campbell died on 4 January 1967, aged 46, while trying to break his own world water speed record on Coniston Water in Cumbria.


The wreckage of the jet-powered boat was recovered from the water in 2001 but a failure to secure lottery funding for its restoration left the future uncertain.  But after submitting a revised application for lottery money, the man leading the restoration project and staff at the museum where it is hoped it will one day be displayed are confident of success.



Bill Smith and Bluebird on the day the wreck was raised


Bluebird was raised from Coniston Water in March 2001

Bill Smith, restoration project leader



"Most people would have given it a wash and brush up and stuck it in a museum but that was not an option for us"


Bill Smith, an underwater surveyor and amateur diver, discovered the wreck and has fronted the project to restore Bluebird since it was pulled from the lake in March 2001.

He has the wreck of the boat in a workshop in the North East where his team have worked on preserving it.


A bid for £940,000 of Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) money was rejected in March 2005 on the basis a restored boat would be a replica rather than a piece of history.


Mr Campbell's daughter Gina told the BBC in October that she did not want Bluebird displayed in its wrecked state and threatened to dump it back on the lake or sell it on the internet auction site eBay.



Bill Smith works on the wreck of Bluebird


Bill Smith has worked on the wreck in a workshop in the North East



The HLF argued that the most important and famous aspect of the boat's history was its crash and it should remain partially damaged.  But Ms Campbell and Mr Smith claim Bluebird should be recognised as a feat of engineering and that it should be displayed in its restored state.


Part of the lottery fund money would be used to build an extension at the Ruskin Museum in Coniston, large enough to house Bluebird. The museum's education officer Mike Humphreys said: "The family didn't want it shown as a wreck.

"To the outside perception it has taken a long time but there have been lots of issues to address. At the moment we all seem to be working together.  "The claim was it would be like a brand new Bluebird and the outside world wouldn't be able to see it as the real Bluebird underneath.


"But our idea is there will be a link between the old and the new so we could not be accused of housing a replica."  Mr Smith has stripped the wreck down partly to clean off the mud which settled on it during its 34 years at the bottom of Coniston Water.  He said: "It's been sitting here for the last four years awaiting a decision and every day it stands it makes more work for somebody."


Mr Smith admits there is "very little" difference between the new lottery bid and the unsuccessful previous bid but said: "The big difference is that there are elements that maybe we didn't explain before.


Donald Campbell


Donald Campbell was aiming for his eighth world water speed record



"The aims and objectives are the same - we can't give in.

"Most people would have given it a wash and brush up and stuck it in a museum but that was not an option for us.

"Nothing is going to happen overnight. It was a successful craft for years before the accident and it's maybe taking a while because the project is being run along the same lines and standards that Donald had."

Ms Campbell had told the BBC: "It will not go on public display as it is, I will not allow it. I want her to look shiny, bright, engineering perfect."

Mr Humphreys said he could understand people who thought Bluebird should be displayed as it was after its most famous moment - the crash - but said the feelings of the Campbell family should be considered too.

He said: "There was a big furore at the time when the boat came out because some people thought it was his grave but there was sympathy with the family because Gina wanted him buried.



Bluebird crashes in 1967


Bluebird was propelled 50ft (15m) into the air when it crashed


"I think when Gina saw the wreck she just saw it as the place where her father was killed, but other people have said it's an historical object and should have stayed where it was.

"It can be seen as a bit gruesome and you could compare displaying it as it is with displaying the wrecks of the cars in which Princess Diana or Ayrton Senna died.

"We want to celebrate the achievements of Campbell by showing what a great piece of engineering K7 was.

"We can tell the whole story, running from the earlier attempts which were successful, the actual crash, the film of getting the boat out and the restoration - it will be the whole story."

At the time the original lottery bid was rejected an HLF spokesman said: "We don't think people want to see a replica-like Bluebird they want to see the original that Donald Campbell had his triumphs and tragedy in."

Those wanting to see a restored Bluebird on display will be hoping for a change of heart by June.



Wednesday, 4 January 2006, 14:51 GMT  


Historic Bluebird in eBay threat
31 Oct 05 |  Cumbria

Setback for Bluebird restoration
18 Mar 05 |  Cumbria

Final tribute to water speed king
12 Sep 01 |  UK News

Divers salvage the Bluebird
08 Mar 01 |  UK News



Donald Campbell was the only person to hold both land and water speed records at the same time.  He held seven world water speed records.  Bluebird was travelling at more than 300mph (483km/h) when it crashed.  The boat was catapulted 50ft (15m) into the air.  Donald's record remained unbroken as the attempt was not completed and stood until 1978.  The current record holder is the Australian Ken Warby.








The family of the man who died trying to break his own water speed record on Coniston Water have made a fresh call for his speedboat to be restored.


Donald Campbell died when the Bluebird crashed in 1967 as he raced the across the Cumbrian lake. His body and the craft were recovered 30 years later.  His family want the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to rethink their refusal to fund the project which would see the Bluebird restored and put on display.


The underwater surveyor and amateur diver who discovered the wreck, Bill Smith, wants to exhibit the restored craft in the Ruskin and Coniston Museum.






Mr Smith said: "The plans for the craft have always been made by its owners, the Campbell Family Heritage Trust. What they don't want to see is a macabre wreck displayed.  "The boat has had more successes than failures and that's how we want it remembered.  "The plan, as hatched in 2001, was to rebuild Bluebird to its original condition and run the boat on the lake again in a sort of triumphant homecoming event."


But HLF has said there are too many question marks for them to hand out £600,000 needed for the work.  HLF manager for the North West Tony Jones said: "We only very rarely support the restoration to working order of high-speed vehicles because of the very high risks posed to them when back in action.  "We fully recognise the importance and drama of the Bluebird story and are encouraging the applicant to focus on a museum-led conservation project which would allow that story to be told."






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The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable man persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. 

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