Bluebird K7 FAQs

The legendary jet powered hydroplane - Bluebird K7- and her famous pilot Donald Campbell set seven world water speed records before crashing on Coniston Water in 1967, tragically killing Donald.

  • In 2001, Donald and the wreckage of the boat were recovered and Bluebird K7 has since been painstakingly restored her to her former glory.
  • In 2008, the team rebuilding Bluebird asked the Lake District National Park Authority to consider amending the Coniston Water byelaws, to allow the craft to undertake proving trials in excess of 10mph.
  • In 2010, following public consultation, the National Park Authority amended the byelaws allowing a one-off proving trial event to take place, subject to conditions.
  • In 2018 Bluebird was back on the water at Loch Fad, on the Isle of Bute, in Scotland. Local enthusiasts and fans from further afield hope that she will be able to return to Coniston water in the future, just a stone’s throw from where Donald Campbell now rests.
  • Now, the Lake District National Park Authority is waiting to receive an application for a proving trial event, involving Bluebird running at speeds of more than 10mph on Coniston water, alongside a thoroughly considered public event plan.

Some of the recent questions we’ve been asked in relation to Bluebird are below:

1. What is the National Park doing to help bring Bluebird back to Coniston?

We remain committed to supporting the return of the Bluebird K7 to Coniston Water in the future.

We will continue to work in partnership, offering advice and guidance, with all relevant parties to work towards realising this ambition.

We have been working with the Bluebird K7 (BBK7) group on two distinct and separate issues, explained below.

a) Creating an exemption to the byelaws

In order for Bluebird to run at speeds of more than 10mph, an application must be made to the Lake District National Park Authority to permit an exemption to the speed limit byelaw.

In 2010 an extensive consultation was held to enable Bluebird K7 to have the potential to be exempted from the 10 mph speed limit on Coniston Water.

As a result of that consultation it was identified that part of the exemption process would include the requirement to address:

  • event management, including traffic and public safety
  • the safety of Bluebird’s pilot and support crew
  • environmental considerations including risk of water and noise pollution.

The Bluebird K7 project team were heavily involved in the drafting of the proposed byelaw changes and have been aware of the consultation and exemption application process that is required. 

This exemption process has been successfully applied on Windermere and Coniston for a number of years and also by Jaguar Vector in 2018 during their successful electric speedboat world record attempt.  

b) holding and managing a public event

Bringing Bluebird K7 back to Coniston to run at speeds over 10mph would undoubtedly create a great deal of public interest. We fully recognise and are supportive of the benefits for the local community and visitors of Bluebird returning to Coniston and during the past 10 years we have been working with South Lakeland District Council and the community to support and identify what may be required to hold such a public event.

The Bluebird Event Group, which is made up of volunteers and is supported by Coniston Parish Council, is looking to work with the Bluebird K7 Project team, local people, business, enthusiasts from around the world and of course the Campbell family, who all wish to see Bluebird returned to her spiritual home. In practical terms this means they will need to work together to create a safety plan and apply for an exemption to the speed limit, before moving to her permanent purpose built home in the Ruskin Museum in Coniston village.

2. Why have you placed restrictions on Bluebird K7 running on Coniston Water?

We have not prevented Bluebird K7 running at speed on Coniston water. We want to continue working positively with the Bluebird project team to get the boat onto Coniston.

Bluebird K7 could be launched on Coniston right now and run under power up to the existing 10mph speed limit.

But, in order to run it at speed, we need to see and agree the operating plans to make sure that it will be run safely and with minimal environmental impacts. We also need to be satisfied that full consideration has been given to managing public interest.  

We have spent many staff hours attending meetings with the Bluebird project team and the community to explain the process that they need to go through to create a memorable, safe, event for everyone to enjoy. We have also discussed in detail how and when Bluebird, its supporting staff and equipment could be accommodated at the LDNP’s Coniston Boating Centre, in order to minimise the impacts on lake-related businesses such as ferries, outdoor centres and boat hire companies.

We remain very willing to work with the Bluebird K7 project and other partners to see Bluebird return to Coniston water and are committed to supporting this ambition.

3. What’s required to allow Bluebird to run on Coniston?

In order for Bluebird to run at speeds of more than 10mph, an application must be made to the Lake District National Park Authority to permit an exemption to the speed limit byelaw.

During the past 10 years we have been working with representatives of the Bluebird K7 group to explain, in detail, the process of making an application for an exemption to the 10mph speed limit on Coniston Water. Read more in question 1.

We are waiting to receive an application for a proving trial event, involving Bluebird running at speeds of more than 10mph on Coniston water, alongside a thoroughly considered public event plan.

4. Why did the trials take place at Bute and not Coniston?

We followed this journey with keen interest and were pleased to see the success of the recent ‘crew training’ tests of Bluebird K7 on Loch Fad on the Isle of Bute. This is testament to the hard work of the Bluebird Project Team.

In light of this success we have asked the team when Bluebird is going to return to Coniston water, hopefully to run at speed as she has done on Loch Fad. There are a few significant things which need to be considered:

Running on Coniston water is more challenging to manage than on Loch Fad which is a privately owned water which can be closed to all users by the owner.

Unlike Loch Fad, Coniston water enjoys an open right of navigation, which means it cannot be closed to anyone who can legally access the water. Running Bluebird, or any other craft, at speed on Coniston water would mean having to navigate ferries, sailing boats, kayakers and swimmers and all water users.

However we realise that power-boating and the desire to set new records has been a part of the cultural history of the Lake District for nearly 100 years. We recently granted an exemption to the byelaws for the Jaguar Vector Project to successfully break the electric world speed record on Coniston Water earlier this year which was great news all round.

5. Are you organising a homecoming event?

Bringing Bluebird K7 back to Coniston to run at speeds over 10mph would undoubtedly create a great deal of public interest.

The Bluebird Event Group, which is made up of volunteers and is supported by Coniston Parish Council, is looking to work with the Bluebird K7 Project team, local people, business, enthusiasts from around the world and of course the Campbell family, who all wish to see Bluebird returned to her spiritual home. In practical terms this means they will need to work together to create a safety plan and apply for an exemption to the speed limit, before moving to her permanent purpose built home in the Ruskin Museum in Coniston village.

We are waiting to receive an application for a proving trial event, involving Bluebird running at speeds of more than 10mph on Coniston water, alongside a thoroughly considered public event plan.

Read more in question 1.

6. Why is it taking so long?

We are waiting to receive an application for proving trial event involving Bluebird running at speeds of more than 10mph on Coniston water, alongside a thoroughly considered homecoming public event plan.

We remain very willing to work with the Bluebird K7 project and other partners to see Bluebird return to Coniston water and are committed to supporting this ambition.

7. The Bluebird K7 team are all volunteers, why aren’t you doing more to help?

We appreciate the hard work done by the BBK7 project team. We have provided facilities and services for the past 10 years, both on the run up to and on the days of the recovery of Bluebird and of Donald Campbell.

We also facilitated a change to the Coniston Water byelaws to allow the proving trials of BBK7 several years ago. This was made possible with the support of local people and communities and encouragement from others from around the globe.

8. Is it true that you won’t allow the proving trails to take place during school holidays?

In line with our current policies, our preference is for a high-profile event such as to be held at non-peak times, this generally means outside of school holidays. This is for two reasons: managing public safety and ensuring the visitor economy is not impacted. However, given the unique nature of this cultural event, and the likely public interest, we are in discussions with South Lakeland Council, the wider community and Bluebird Event Group to find a set of suitable dates.

9. Are you supportive of world record attempts in the Lake District

We are fully appreciative of the Campbell family’s contribution to the development of speed records on both land and water both here in the Lake District and around the world. Power-boating and the desire to set new records has been a part of the cultural history of the Lake District for nearly 100 years.

We want to continue working positively with K7 team to get the boat onto Coniston. Bluebird K7 could be launched on Coniston now and run under power up to 10mph; however in order to run at speed we need sight of their operating plans to ensure that it will be run safely, with minimal environmental impacts and that full consideration has been given to managing public interest.  

We worked closely with Jaguar Vector earlier this year to enable them launch a successful world record electric speedboat attempt on Coniston Water.