Bluebird may return to new Loch Fad home

Donald Campbell's daughter, Gina, with his mascot, Mr Whoppit, and Bluebird at Loch Fad.
Donald Campbell's daughter, Gina, with his mascot, Mr Whoppit, and Bluebird at Loch Fad.

Donald Campbell’s Bluebird K7 could be set for another flying visit to Bute following the success of this summer’s trip to the island.

The Buteman understands that the team behind the Bluebird Project is considering the hydroplane’s potential return to Loch Fad, scene of two weeks of testing last August.

The jet-engined craft made a stunning ‘debut’ on Bute after a painstaking and detailed 15-year rebuild by engineer Bill Smith and volunteers working in North Shields.

Once piloted by racing pioneer Donald Campbell, Bluebird was rescued from the depths of Coniston Water in 2001.

Campbell was killed on January 4, 1967, when the hydroplane flipped during a water speed record attempt on the five-mile long Cumbrian lake.

Many people regard Coniston as Bluebird’s spiritual home, but the project team has been unable, as yet, to negotiate a deal that satisfies the Lake District National Park Authority.

Enthusiasts are keen to see the legendary hydroplane skim the lake’s surface for the first time in 51 years, although some would prefer it to be put on show in a lakeside museum.

Jimmy Poole, of Loch Fad Fisheries, became heavily involved with Bluebird’s summer tour to the island and was smitten by the craft’s presence on the loch.

He has no doubt that islanders would welcome repeat performances.

He said: “We’d have Bluebird back here in a heartbeat – and I know that Bill is keen to come back – but we’ll just have to wait and see.

“It brought a lot of attention to Bute – on television, in the newspapers and on social media – and attracted a lot of people to the island.

“Everybody here was willing to help Bill and his team achieve their goal – and nobody turned me away when I asked.

“Nothing was too much trouble and there were no stumbling blocks put in the way of the project.

“We all wanted it to succeed and to see Bluebird back on the water.”

Donald Campbell’s daughter, Gina, was at the lochside to see the craft take to the water for the first time since it was given a new lease of life, thanks to the skill and patience of the project team.

Jimmy said: “I was out in a boat when Bluebird came down the loch as the sun was setting, with Arran in the background. It was one of those moments when you look around and think: is this really happening?”