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1956: World water speed record smashed

VIDEO : Footage of Norman Buckley's water speed record

A 48-year-old solicitor from Manchester has broken the one-hour world water speed record in his motorboat, Miss Windermere III.

Norman Buckley drove the boat at an average speed of over 79mph during his hour on the course on Lake Windermere.

But he said he was disappointed not to have reached 80mph.

The previous record was 64.03mph, set by Charles von Mayenburg of Germany.

On returning to the Windermere Motor Boat Racing Club - which has hosted all his world record attempts - he said he had had one or two anxious moments during the attempt.

On one occasion, the wash from a passing launch threatened to jeopardise the whole operation.

"I throttled down just before the wash hit me, but even so the boat leaped clear of the water," Mr Buckley said.

"Had I not slowed, anything might have happened."

Anxious wait

Among those in the audience was fellow speedboat enthusiast and close personal friend, Donald Campbell, who makes his own attempt on the water-speed record on Coniston Water later this month.

He said the incident involving the launch had "cost Britain a record of 80mph".

The record attempt was delayed by several hours as Mr Buckley's team endured an anxious wait for early morning mists to lift from the lake.

Weekend racer

Mr Buckley designed and built his hydroplane boat, Miss Windermere III, himself.

This was the third time he had tried to break the record: the previous attempt, in May, failed disastrously when the boat's propellor shaft broke, possibly broken off by a piece of driftwood.

Mr Buckley, whose job as a solicitor means he can only indulge his hobby of powerboat racing at the weekends, already holds one world speed record.

In 1951, he drove Miss Windermere at 63.53mph over a 24-mile course on the lake, breaking the speed record for 800kg class motorboats.

In Context
Norman Buckley went on to break a further five world water speed records: one more in Miss Windermere III, and a further two during the 1960s in the next boat he designed and built, Miss Windermere IV.

Mr Buckley was the official timekeeper for Donald Campbell at his fatal attempt on the world speed record in Bluebird on Coniston Water in January 1967. Mr Campbell's widow, Tonia Bern-Campbell, stayed with the Buckleys while salvage workers recovered wreckage from the boat.

Norman Buckley broke a further world water speed record in Miss Windermere V in the 1970s, and was awarded the MBE in 1972.

He died in 1974. His first boat, Miss Windermere, is currently kept at the Steamboat Museum at Lake Windermere, and his nephew still owns the hotel he bought in the Lakes in 1952.


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