Video: 50 years on, a final farewell on Coniston Water to record-breaker Donald Campbell

IN AN age in which it seemed Britain could still lead the world, Donald Campbell stood head and shoulders above almost everyone.

Gina Campbell, the daughter of world land and water speed record holder Donald Campbell, marks the 50th anniversary of the fatal crash there of his jet-powered Bluebird boat at Coniston.

While London swung and Concorde took shape in a hangar, it was Campbell and his demolition of eight speed records on land and water that stood as the pre-eminent symbol of the nation’s supremacy.

The name Bluebird was synonymous with his own. His father, Malcolm, had been setting records since the 1920s in a succession of craft bearing the name.

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And when Donald set out on Coniston Water in the Lake District, exactly 50 years ago, in what some said was a publicity stunt to promote his vision of a supersonic rocket car, it seemed as though anything was possible.

Gina Campbell, the daughter of world land and water speed record holder Donald Campbell, marks the 50th anniversary of the fatal crash there of his jet-powered Bluebird boat at Coniston.

Yet within hours, the dream was over. Bluebird K7 somersaulted at 328mph and broke in two. All they found was some debris and Campbell’s mascot, a teddy bear called Mr Whoppit.

It would be another 34 years before his body was recovered, his race suit still intact.

Today, the anniversary was marked at the site of the crash. His daughter, Gina Campbell, was among a small party who travelled by boat to the site and laid flowers on the lake at the exact time of the tragedy.

During the journey she clutched Mr Whoppit.

Gina Campbell, the daughter of world land and water speed record holder Donald Campbell, marks the 50th anniversary of the fatal crash there of his jet-powered Bluebird boat at Coniston.

Later, as crowds gathered for a public remembrance service at his memorial on the village green, Ms Campbell, who lives in Thorner, near Leeds, described the day as “bittersweet”.

She said: “My dad did not do things for public display but I think he would be delighted to see the public here today.”

Afterwards, more wreaths were laid at Coniston Cemetery.

Campbell was posthumously awarded the Queen’s Commendation for Brave Conduct.

Donald Campbell died 50 years ago on Coniston Water

It is hoped that Bluebird will be restored by next year and will take to Coniston Water again before it finds a permanent home in the village’s Ruskin Museum.

Donald Campbell died 50 years ago on Coniston Water
Donald Campbell died 50 years ago on Coniston Water
Gina Campbell, the daughter of world land and water speed record holder Donald Campbell, marks the 50th anniversary of the fatal crash there of his jet-powered Bluebird boat at Coniston.
Gina Campbell, the daughter of world land and water speed record holder Donald Campbell, marks the 50th anniversary of the fatal crash there of his jet-powered Bluebird boat at Coniston.
Donald Campbell died 50 years ago on Coniston Water
Donald Campbell died 50 years ago on Coniston Water
Donald Campbell died 50 years ago on Coniston Water