Ozzie legend Ken Warby gets his hands dirty

Australian record-breaking legend Ken Warby is one the volunteers helping out with the rebuild of Bluebird K7.

Warby, pictured, who set the current World Water Speed Record of 317.6mph in 1987 and has held it ever since, has been in North Shields, Tyneside, working on the boat’s frame.

Donald Campbell’s famous boat is being rebuilt by enthusiasts after the Heritage Lottery turned down two applications for funding for the project.

The team’s aim is to return Bluebird to full working condition, using as much original material as possible, and display her in a dedicated new wing to be constructed at the Ruskin Museum in Coniston in the Lake District.

The latest stage involves work on the frame, with Bradford-based compressed air systems specialist, Thorite, giving their help by supplying a variety of compressed air system components and airtools from Thorite’s North Shields Sales and Service Centre.

Bluebird was raised from the bottom of Coniston Water in 2001 by a team of amateur divers. The group were also successful in locating and raising Donald Campbell’s body and acted as pallbearers at his burial in Coniston village. Campbell died in Bluebird while attempting to break the world water speed record on Coniston in 1967.

A spokesman says: “A good proportion of Bluebird’s hull and topsides remained intact when lifted from the lake’s bed, including the distinctive tail fin. The majority of the structural damage was confined to the boat’s cockpit area, although both the massive crash impact and 34 years immersion had taken a heavy toll on the jet engine. The boat was then transported to the rebuild project’s base in North Shields, but rebuilding only began in earnest last year because of funding delays.”

It is hoped the project, which has the full backing of the Campbell Family Heritage Trust, will be finished in 2009.

www.bluebirdproject.com