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Sir Malcolm Campbells Bluebird K3 celebrates her 85th anniversary at Bewl Water this September

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In September 2022, Sir Malcolm Campbells Bluebird K3 returns to Bewl Water, celebrating the boat's 85th anniversary of her first record in 1937.

TUNBRIDGE WELLS, KENT, UNITED KINGDOM, July 21, 2022 / -- Sir Malcolm Campbell’s world record-breaking speedboat the Bluebird K3 will return to Bewl Water in September.

This momentous event will celebrate the 85th anniversary of the boat’s first world water speed record set by Sir Malcolm in 1937.

Bewl Water in Kent is a special location for Bluebird K3, as it was here that her engines first roared into life again after being retired and falling into disrepair.

The boat, which is part of the Foulkes Halbard Collection, has been fully restored to her former glory, thanks to the efforts of volunteers at Filching Manor Motor Museum in East Sussex.

Bluebird K3’s clutch, gearbox, drive system and engine have been reinstated and her distinctive blue, wooden hull repaired.

The boat was built for speed ace Sir Malcolm so he could attempt the water speed record, after claiming the 300mph land speed record in 1935.

He commissioned Fred Cooper of Saunders Roe on the Isle of Wight to build a 23-foot, hydroplane powerboat with assistance from mechanical engineer Reid Railton, who had helped build Sir Malcolm’s record-breaking cars.

Sir Malcolm used the R37 Rolls Royce engine from one of his land speed cars to power the boat, which was given the international race number KZ30, shortened to K3.

After achieving a speed of 90mph on Loch Lomond in Scotland, Sir Malcolm believed he could beat American Garfield Wood’s existing record on the right stretch of water.

The team’s Italian mechanic suggested the calm waters of lake Maggiore, on the border between Italy and Switzerland, could be just the right location.

After a reconnaissance trip, the team and K3 quickly relocated to Maggiore.

Unfortunately, during trial runs, the boat’s R37 engine badly overheated, so Sir Malcolm fitted a less powerful R39 engine and, after re-positioning the water- cooling scoop, it was ready for another record attempt.

On September 1, 1937, Sir Malcolm set a new world water speed record of 126.32mph.

Convinced K3 could go faster, Sir Malcolm increased the record to 129.5mph the next day and the team returned home to England triumphant.

Sir Malcolm went to Switzerland in 1938 to try and increase the record as he felt that there was not enough difference between Wood’s previous 124mph record and his new one.

On the smaller lake of Hallwil, close to the German border, Sir Malcolm drove the K3 to a new 130.93mph world speed record on August 17. K3 was then retired.

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Nick Lima
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