Campbell’s Bluebird returns to life

Water speed record breaker makes a splash after seven decade break.

Malcolm Campbell’s world water speed record breaking Bluebird K3 has roared across the water for thefirst time since being retired 74 years ago. The 23ft single step hydroplane carried out successful trials last week on Bewl Water as the culmination of a 22-year restoration project.

Bluebird K3, which was designed by Fred Cooper and built by Saunders-Roe on the Isle of Wight, waspowered by a 2,500hp Rolls Royce petrol engine. After shakedown trials Campbell took the boat to Lake Maggiore in Italy where, on 1st September 1937, it broke the water speed record with a new average speed of 123.33 mph.

Just over a year later Campbell and Bluebird K3 did even better, setting a new record of 130.91mph on Hallwilersee in Switzerland, following which the boat was retired. It was acquired by the Foulkes Halbard Collection in 1988, and restoration of the iconic craft began at Filching Manor, East Sussex, the following year.