Museum makes special presentation to Bluebird Project

Presentation of wheels to Bluebird Restoration Project

2017 marks 50 years since Donald Campbell’s tragic death on Coniston Water in January 1967. He broke eight world speed records on water and land in the 1950s and 1960s, and became an international hero for his achievements.

Today, two of the transport wheels from the trailer/launch trolley which was used for Bluebird’s record-breaking attempts have been officially donated to the Bluebird Project, and will eventually go on display at The Ruskin Museum in Coniston.

Originally nose wheels from a rare Vickers Varsity plane, the wheels have a 2 foot diameter and had previously been gifted to the Backbarrow-based attraction. However, Museum bosses believe their spiritual home is in Coniston where they can sit on a replica trailer alongside the original Bluebird K7, which is currently being rebuilt by the Bluebird Project to full working condition.

Director of the Lakeland Motor Museum, Bill Bewley, made the presentation. He says, “We are pleased to donate these artefacts to the Bluebird Project, so the restoration team can put them onto their reconstructed trailer where we feel they rightly belong.

“The Lakeland Motor Museum has always had a good relationship with the Campbell family since the days when our founder Don Sidebottom started collecting memorabilia, and the three full sized replicas which we display in our Campbell Bluebird Exhibition. It is an incredible story of courage and determination, so reuniting the wheels with the Bluebird K7’s restoration project seems only fitting.”

Bill Smith, from the Bluebird Project, says, “To say that we were astounded that these precious items had survived, tucked away for so many years, would be an immense understatement, but having the opportunity also not only to reunite them with the boat they helped transport all over the world and as reference items to ensure that the rebuild is as perfect in every detail as we can make it is manna from heaven. We’re extremely grateful to the museum for giving us this opportunity.”

He adds, “We believe that these wheels came from Saunders Roe along with the original Beryl engine when the boat was under construction and that they were from the beaching gear used to bring the SRA1 flying boat ashore. They were also used on the Vickers Varsity transport aircraft so in either instance they’re rare items; the tyres even more so as they were used only on the SRA1 and for grass landings with the DeHavilland Vampire.”

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