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Record-breaking hydroplane takes to the water after 50 years

Photo:

Donald Campbell's record-breaking Bluebird hydroplane has taken to water for the first time in more than half a century.

Campbell lived near Gatwick, his record-breaking cars and boats were designed by the Norris Brothers engineers in Burgess Hill.

But he died in 1967, when Bluebird crashed on Coniston Water. Now, she's been fully restored, as Malcolm Shaw reports.

The record-breaking hydroplane- Bluebird K7- is undergoing tests on the Isle of Bute.

It was on Coniston Water in 1967 that Bluebird last took to the water.

Donald Campbell attempted to set a new world record of 300mph but died in a crash on the water.

Donald Campbell lived at Roundwood Hall near Gatwick.

His last words in a 31 second radio transmission were:

Full nose up ... Pitching a bit down here ... coming through our own wash ... er getting straightened up now on track ... rather closer to Peel Island ... and we're tramping like mad ... and er ... FULL POWER ... er tramping like hell OVER. I can't see much and the water's very bad indeed ... I'm galloping over the top ... and she's giving a hell of a bloody row in here ... I can't see anything ... I've got the bows out ... I'm going ... U-hh.

– Donald Campbell
Donald Campbell attempted to set a new world record of 300mph but died in a crash on the water.

Donald Campbell lived at Roundwood Hall near Gatwick.

Bluebird was recovered from Coniston in 2001. Since then the hydroplane has been undergoing painstaking restoration. It's been a labour of love as engineer Bill Smith describes it.

Bill Smith, Lead Engineer- Bluebird Project:

Campbell died a national hero.

Thanks in no small part to the Norris brothers, the engineers who designed his record-breaking cars and boats from their offices in Burgess Hill and Haywards Heath.

The test runs in Scotland are preparation for Bluebird's return to Coniston Water next year; another chapter in the Campbell legend.