For ten years the quiet village of Coniston in the English Lake District has awaited the return of its legacy – the iconic, Bluebird K7 speedboat of which speed king, Donald Campbell CBE lost his life in on January 4, 1967 whilst making a bid to raise the speed record to over 300 miles per hour (480 km/h) on Coniston Waters.
The wreckage of Campbell's craft was recovered by the Bluebird Project between October 2000, when the first sections were raised, and May 2001, when Campbell's body was subsequently recovered. As of 2008, K7 has been undergoing painstaking restoration, to a very high standard of working condition in North Shields, Tyne and Wear, using a very high proportion of her original fabric, but with a new engine of the same type albeit incorporating many original components.
In 2009 permission was granted for a one off set of proving trials of Bluebird on Coniston Water, where she will be tested to a safe speed for demonstration purposes only. It is hoped that the restoration of Bluebird K7 will be completed in 2012 when she will return to Coniston, in a dignified ceremony with the full support of Donald’s family, who have fought continuously to protect the Bluebird legacy. K7 will then reside permanently at the Ruskin Museum, Coniston, where she will be on display to the general public in memory of one of the world's most prolific land and water speed record breakers.
The Campbell family have been outraged this week with the arrival at Coniston of a look-alike dubbed, K777. Without any consultation or respect to either Donald's family or the Norris brothers’ families, designers of Donald’s K7 boat, the vessel was shamelessly installed on the very same slipway from which Donald left and never returned in January 1967.
Spokesperson for the family, Don Wales Grandson of Sir Malcolm Campbell and Nephew of Donald Campbell said “we feel that it is disrespectful to Donald, and that those responsible are clearly out to bolster their credibility as a publicity stunt by alluding to the connection with the real Bluebird – a connection that neither exists nor is wanted. Their claim that valuable data collected on the behaviour of the craft will benefit the genuine machine is total nonsense the Campbell family do not support or condone the building or operation of the vessel named K777 or any perceived association of it with the Campbell/Bluebird story.”