Cumbria

Donald Campbell's restored Bluebird in museum home row

Restored Bluebird Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Bluebird K7 has been undergoing tests on Loch Fad in Scotland

The man who restored Donald Campbell's Bluebird has said he does not want it to be locked away in a museum.

Bill Smith recovered the wreckage of the hydroplane in 2001 from Coniston Water in Cumbria and rebuilt it at a workshop on Tyneside.

Following a successful test run on Loch Fad in Scotland there have been offers for him to take it around the world.

But there are also calls for it to be housed in a specially-built extension in the Ruskin Museum in Coniston.

Donald Campbell died when Bluebird flipped and crashed during his attempt to break his own water speed record in 1967.

The hydroplane is effectively co-owned by the Ruskin Museum Trust - which was gifted the wreckage in 2006 - and the man who restored it, Bill Smith.

He said that negotiations to bring it back to Coniston had stalled, leading him to carry out the test runs on the Isle of Bute in Scotland.

Image caption Engineer Bill Smith salvaged the craft and has led the restoration project at a workshop in North Shields

Mr Smith said: "The boat performed beautifully and there was a phenomenal amount of interest.

"It demonstrated very forcibly that this is not the sort of object that should be put in a museum."

He said that while it could be stored and displayed at the premises in Coniston, it needed regular maintenance and would have to "run on water".

"We've had offers coming in from all over. All sorts of places - Australia, America. And if they want it, we can do it", he said.

"It would be very sad if it was put in a museum and the doors shut. People really need to see the power of it."

'It can happen'

But Anne Hall, chairwoman of the Ruskin Museum Trust and a parish councillor for Coniston, said there was no reason why it could not run on Coniston Water.

"The reason it went to Bute is because a quiet, shallow lake is needed," she said.

"Coniston is different, it's a public highway.

But she said Coniston had "everything" needed to showcase the boat.

"Once we've got a date we can all agree on, we can get a safety plan, then it can happen," she added.

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