Hebden Bridge engineer's joy as Bluebird K7 floats again

Gina Campbell collects the chassis of Bluebird from John Getty of PDS Engineering, top left, Donald Campbell died in 1967 at Coniston Water, right
Gina Campbell collects the chassis of Bluebird from John Getty of PDS Engineering, top left, Donald Campbell died in 1967 at Coniston Water, right

A Calder Valley businessman has spoken of his delight as Donald Campbell’s seven times world record-breaking hydroplane, Bluebird K7, took to the water again.

The iconic vessel had a successful test float in a loch on the Isle of Bute, Scotland, onlooked by Gina Campbell, daughter of ‘the Skipper’.

It was a proud moment for Hebden Bridge man John Getty, chairman of PDS Engineering, who has been involved in a long project to restore the boat to its former glory.

The tests came 51 years after the horrific accident which saw Campbell killed while attempting to break yet another world water speed record.

He died, aged 45, on Coniston Water in Cumbria when the boat - which was travelling at more than 300mph - started to bounce out of the water, somersaulting before plunging back into the lake, and sinking. Royal Navy divers found the wreck of Bluebird, but called off the search for Campbell after two weeks. His body was finally located in 2001.

Mr Getty said that once getting to work on the salvaged remains of Bluebird, it took several months for his company to restore the space frame (similar to the chassis) yet they managed to use 95 per cent of the original metal components recovered after the crash.

He spoke of how he was immensely proud to be asked to work on the Bluebird restoration project, as he was a big fan of Campbell growing up, and was keen to see the boat when it goes to a museum.

He also believes that the revamped vessel will be far better than the original due to the advancements of technology.

Project manager, Bill Smith, has been working on the restoration for over 22 years. The team is still around 12 months away from finishing the work - with Nelson firm PDS Engineering on stand-by - as Mr Smith wants to keep as many of the original pieces of the motorboat as possible.