I rode the length of Coniston Water where Donald Campbell made his last, and fateful, attempt at the water speed record in 1967. Here is the video of that attempt, and below is a cutting of a press report of deep-water divers finding some of his remains at the bottom of the water 34 years later. The find was not greeted with universal pleasure amongst family members……….
Campbell’s remains ‘are found’
by GRAHAM KEELEY, Daily Mail
Divers recovered what they believe to be the body of Donald Campbell from the bottom of Coniston Water in the Lake District yesterday.
Thirty four years after his water speed record attempt ended in disaster, bones were found in a racing suit near where his boat Bluebird was recently discovered.
There was no skull among the remains, which were taken to a hospital for a post-mortem and police DNA tests to be carried out.
It could be three days before the body is identified.
Last night, however, the family of the legendary daredevil appeared divided over the find, as Campbell’s sister launched a bitter attack on the divers who discovered his boat and now the body.
Jean Wales said she had been told by the diving team that the remains had been located.
‘This is the last thing that I wanted,’ said 77-year-old Mrs Wales.
‘My brother has been there for 30 years or more and they should let him rest there. Now they are bringing him up but for what good? It only causes distress and heartache for myself. I just feel devastated about it.’
However, Campbell’s 51-year-old daughter Gina Campbell was at the lakeside when the remains were found, filming a BBC documentary on the discovery of Bluebird.
She said: ‘This is a great relief. We are in no doubt that this is my father’s body because of the suit the remains were found in.
‘If his body was found in another 20 years, his close family might have all passed away and we would not be able to savour this moment.
‘The water at the bottom is murky and horrible and you would not want to leave a national hero down there.’
Campbell’s widow Tonia Bern-Campbell, 64, who now lives in San Bernardino, California, was said by friends to be ‘too upset’ to comment.
Campbell’s final moments have become part of the national consciousness after his spectacular crash was captured on film, in photographs and in a chilling recording of his last words.
As Bluebird edged towards 300mph then spun out of control, Campbell shouted: ‘She’s tramping, the water’s not good … I can’t see much … I’m going … I’m on my back … I am gone.’
Last year, a recovery team led by a millionaire diving enthusiast named Bill Smith discovered the final resting place of Bluebird 140ft down, but no trace of Campbell’s remains.
The incredible impact of the crash was apparent from the twisted remains. The cockpit and bow had been torn away. Only fragments of the nose have been found. But the red, white and blue of Bluebird’s tailfin was intact.
Mr Smith argued the craft would be looted by treasure hunters if it was not raised and, with some misgivings, Campbell’s family agreed.
In March the 1.5-ton wreckage was raised. It is now being restored.
Donald Campbell already held the water speed record at 276mph and was trying to better that when he died aged 46 in 1967.
His boat was named after the car in which his father Sir Malcolm Campbell had set what was then a land speed record of 146mph in 1924.
Last night Inspector Paul Coulston, of Cumbria Police, said: ‘At approximately 1pm, partial remains of what is believed to be a human body were recovered from the bed of Coniston Water in Cumbria.
‘It was close to the site where wreckage of Donald Campbell’s boat, the Bluebird, was recovered.’
The remains were taken to Furness General Hospital, Barrow-in-Furness where a post-mortem is expected to begin today.