Bluebird K7 Returns to Coniston

Image of the rebuilt Bluebird K7 on a lake

21st March 2024

After years of legal battles, Bluebird K7, Donald Campbell’s jet-engined hydroplane was returned to Coniston.

On the 19th of March, 2024, the fully restored Bluebird K7 went on display to the general public in The Bluebird Wing at the Ruskin Museum in Coniston village.

Bluebird K7 was the first successful jet-powered hydroplane and was considered totally revolutionary when it was first launched in January 1955. The iconic boat and its pilot, Donald Campbell went on to set seven world water speed records on Coniston Water.

Tragically in 1967 in pursuit of the World Water Speed Record, disaster struck on the 4th of January. Donald Campbell died whilst breaking the 300 mph barrier as Bluebird rose into the air and then cartwheeled across the water. The impact badly smashed Bluebird and the main hull sank shortly afterwards.

Donald Campbell’s last words during a 31-second transmission on his il-fated run via the radio intercom were:-

“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….”

Donald Campbell’s teddy bear mascot, Mr Whoppit, was found among the debris and the pilot’s helmet was also recovered soon after the crash.    Image of Donald Campbells with his mascot - Mr Whoppit

Campbell’s body was finally located in 2001, some 34 years after the tragedy. He was laid to rest in Coniston Cemetery on the 12th of September 2001.

The wreckage of K7 was recovered between October 2000 when the first small sections were raised, and May 2001, when Campbell’s body was recovered. The largest section, approximately two-thirds of the main hull, was salvaged on the 8th of March 2001.

The fully restored Bluebird K7 can be viewed in Coniston at the Ruskin Museum along with the story of this incredible machine. The museum is also host to lots of photos of Donald Campbell who lived in the village for months at a time.

Visit the Ruskin Museum’s website here

The Ruskin Museum is just a 16 minute drive from our 2 Coniston Water cottages. See our Coniston Water cottages here

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