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Thorite assists the Bluebird project

Thursday 29th November 2007

Bradford-based compressed air systems specialist, Thorite, has supplied compressed air products to help with the complete rebuilding* of Donald Campbell's Bluebird K7 world water speed record challenger by the Bluebird Project.

The Bluebird Project team contacted Thorite's North Shields Sales and Service Centre for a variety of compressed air system components and air tools, which have been utilised to create a complete compressed air supply throughout their workshops.

Following the crash of Bluebird at a speed of around 200mph, which caused the tragic death of Donald Campbell on Lake Coniston in 1967, the remains of the craft lay undisturbed until March 2001.

The jet boat was recovered by the Bluebird Project, a group of amateur wreck-diving enthusiasts who share the dream of seeing the boat being rebuilt to her condition pre-crash, using as much original material as possible - the decision to allow this dream to be realised having been taken by the Campbell Family Heritage Trust.

The group were also successful in locating and raising Donald Campbell's body and acted as pallbearers at his burial in Coniston village.

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 project's base in North Shields, but rebuilding only began in earnest last year because of funding delays.

The Bluebird Project's ambition is to return Bluebird to full working condition and display her in a dedicated new wing, to be specially constructed, at Coniston's Ruskin Museum.

The target date for this is currently late 2009, but as the team is committed to producing the best possible quality of rebuild this date may have to be revised.

The Bluebird Project applied for financial assistance from the Heritage Lottery Fund on two occasions, but were turned down. This finally led to the decision to "go it alone" and the team is now completely reliant on contributions from valued commercial sponsors and the general public.

Bluebird K7
Length: 26ft 4"
Beam: 10ft 6"
Weight: 2.5 tonnes approx
Construction: High duty "Birmabright" light alloy hull, high tensile steel tubular frame
Power: 4,000 lbs thrust produced by Bristol Siddley "Orpheus" turbo jet engine from Gnat fighter aircraft

For full details of Bluebird Project's history and present progress please go to

*The Bluebird Project is keen to stress that Bluebird is not undergoing "restoration". Restoration is considered a crime in the museum world as it results in history being lost. The team describes their painstaking work as a "Conserveering", as they are using a blend of museum conservation and practical engineering, whilst retaining as much original material as is humanly possible.

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