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Thursday, 15 March, 2001, 11:50 GMT
Sailor finds Campbell's Bluebird notes
Wreck of the Bluebird
Bluebird resurfaced after 34 years
A notebook documenting Donald Campbell's research into the Bluebird high-speed boat has been discovered in an attic.

The 47-year-old notebook was left undisturbed for more than a decade by sailor Eddie Yates.

But when the Bluebird was salvaged from Coniston Water, Chief Petty Officer Yates took another look at the book he had discovered in the attic of his former home in Horsham, West Sussex, 14 years before.


I knew I had found something interesting but I just put it away and forgot about it

Eddie Yates
The notes provide a unique insight into Campbell's preparation for his attempt to break his own world water speed record on Coniston Water.

Campbell includes equations, sketches, and photographs of high-speed experiments with one-eighth scale model rocket boats similar to the Bluebird in his plans to develop a "C-Boat."

He wrote that his aim was to "research, develop and design a new hydroplane intended to regain the world record with an adequate margin of safety".

And he likened his bid with the efforts of John Cobb and the boat Crusader.

Campbell wrote: "The endeavour was marred by disaster resulting in the tragic death of the pilot.

"Crusader had just completed a run timed at 206mph when the craft disintegrated and sank in 600ft of water.

Campbell's widow Tonia Bern-Campbell
Tonia Bern-Campbell, Campbell's widow, saw the boat raised
"All that remained was a small quantity of floating wreckage."

Mr Yates, a member of Portsmouth's Festival of the Sea team, found a box of newspapers and house deeds while clearing out their attic.

"We took out the important stuff and it was about to be thrown out when I had another look through it.

"I knew I had found something interesting but I just put it away and forgot about it. Then I saw the television coverage of the Bluebird and I remembered the book, so I brought it into work," he said.

'Piece of history'

CPO Yates, now of Waltham Chase, Hampshire, has contacted Campbell's relatives.

He said he did not want to hurt anyone's feelings or upset the family.


Donald Campbell was a hero and he was a huge part of British maritime history

Eddie Yates

"What I want to get over is that this is a piece of history but that it is only one piece and there may be more to follow.

"Donald Campbell was a hero and he was a huge part of British maritime history."

The book is inscribed in pen: "To Jimmy and Ted, With Love" and in type: "From Donald Malcolm Campbell" (with the Malcolm Campbell crossed out).

Donald Campbell
Donald Campbell was trying to beat his own world record

It was copy number 11 and originally issued to Sir Raymond Quilter, 1954.

But mystery surrounds how the notebook came to be in the house as CPO Yates has no idea how it came to be there.

Campbell was trying to break his own water speed record of 276mph on 4 January, 1967, when the boat vaulted from the lake's surface and somersaulted repeatedly before crashing, killing him instantly.

Bluebird was finally winched to the surface last week after it was discovered by enthusiasts late last year following a four-year hunt.

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