top of page

Response to Mr. Carroll

The text below (in white) appeared today from the above. Some of the points made are responded to below.

It’s unusual for me to make any comments or statements regarding the situation surrounding Donald Campbell’s Bluebird K7 record-breaking Hydroplane, and the ongoing current impasse between the Ruskin Museum (RM) and The Bluebird Project Ltd (BBP). On this occasion however I feel moved to rise to the bait.

There is no bait. It states quite clearly at the top of our diary piece that a question was asked and that we felt it was perhaps time to set down the origins of that question and the subsequent events on the public record in case there was a gap in informing people. No more, no less. It stated only known facts, did not name names and did not attempt to lay blame with the RM or any of its trustees or associates. The RM is a museum accredited by the Arts Council, it is one of the few such operations, certainly within Cumbria which “washes its face” financially and in 2020 was voted into the top 10% of visitor attractions worldwide by TripAdvisor. Not bad for what we admit is a relatively small Museum. The RM unveiled an interesting piece of Campbell History last Tuesday on the 55th Anniversary of Donald’s fatal crash, that one terrible moment which both took his life and yet somehow immortalised him at the same instant. I find it sad therefore that BBP, an organisation which purports to want to partner with the RM in terms of the future for Bluebird K7, should decide that the installation of the restored Land Rover used in the 1960 & 1964 Bluebird CN7 World Land Speed Record attempts should sound the bell for open season on having yet another go at the RM. It seems if there isn’t anything truthful to be discussed it can just be made up as they go along.

Mr Carrol, would you set out what you perceive to be untrue in order that we at BBP may account for it publicly? It’s almost like a scene from Animal Farm with a mantra of “BBP Good, RM Bad” irrespective of what we do. The topic here of course being the floor of the Bluebird Wing. Bill Smith of BBP has asserted on their website diary and social media that he has misgivings about the strength of the floor. This line was trotted out in 2019 almost immediately after the refusal of the offer made in good faith regarding allowing BBP 3 months access per year to Bluebird K7 for running purposes.

The inference appears to be that your offer was generous and that BBP turning it down should be perceived negatively yet anyone can read, verbatim, the communications between Peter Roper-Hall and yourselves on these pages regarding that matter. Likewise, questions arising with regard to the floor are set out similarly with the facts presented.

In addition to this we also made it quite clear that these issues can undoubtedly be overcome and we have striven to understand such events and work with the RM towards a solution. Museum staff and Trustees are not structural engineers; it wouldn’t be reasonable to expect them to be, but as Mr Smith says he has done, we are also able to discuss with the structural engineers responsible. We can and have used photographic evidence allied to discussions with people there at the time, which in turn allows us to conclude, as do our structural engineers, that there is NO strength issue with the floor in the Bluebird Wing. Equations have been calculated, figures run, and everything checks out. We have told BBP this, so quite why the need was felt to try to imply that there still “might” remain some doubt is really quite incredulous, and although the RM has stated previously the relationship between us and BBP is over, this does nothing to rebuild any of the already irreparable bridges.

Please would you, as we have requested previously, share this data with us because.

1. We do not know from what assumptions and values your data is is derived. Once received we will be happy to test it against what we know as we have considerable experience of handling K7 on her launch and recovery cradle.

2. We have not been consulted by any of your people for data on which to base any assumptions. Would you be kind enough to make the introductions in order that we can clear this up once and for all and be able to reassure all concerned that this has been done?

We await with interest the likely resurrection of the suggestion that the Orpheus Engine in Bluebird K7 contains a radioactive Magnesium/Thorium alloy which it doesn’t, or some other weird and wonderful accusation dreamt up on an otherwise lacklustre afternoon in Mr Smith’s office. For that’s what these stories are, fantasies dreamt up to try and discredit the RM. Mr Smith and the BBP don’t have the best track record with Museums, but that’s another story.

Another item worthy of complete explanation.

One of our volunteers used to work in the nuclear industry and several of our associates are museum professionals so for many years we have been aware of the stringent rules applied to curating radioactive items. Such items can include old watches, compasses, certain types of coloured glass and, most relevant to us, instruments and other components from Cold War jets. In this knowledge, we looked at the rules, researched the necessary requirements then asked the RM if they had a radiation officer. They said they didn’t so we asked one of our museum professionals to carry out a radiological survey of K7 and report their findings. Once complete we removed all the radioactive material from the boat and informed the RM accordingly. We have sources extremely close to BBP and we hear a lot of stories regarding what goes on there and provided it doesn’t directly impact upon ourselves as such, most of these we don’t comment on, because frankly they’re not our problem, nor is most of it any of our business. Just as the floor of the Bluebird Wing isn’t any of BBP’s affair. I would have thought manoeuvring a long wheelbase Land Rover without power steering in the display hall should have put any concerns to bed but apparently not, some people refuse to admit they’re wrong.

It is our view that no reasonable comparison can be made in this instance. The Land-Rover is considerably less than half the weight of K7 with a much larger contact area on the floor and does not have to be picked up and manhandled through 90 degrees. All of which was explained in our diary post, which highlights once again the vital nature of working to valid assumptions. If any further reason was required to illustrate why the RM needs to part ways with BBP, the tweet at 20:47 on 8th January perhaps crystallises this. This tweet showed a mock-up of a medicine which let’s just say is “anti-idiot”, but I’ve cleaned that up. Now, anyone who knows me will testify, I like a laugh as much as anyone, indeed I am noted for it, but I cannot imagine any other organisation with whom BBP like to align themselves issuing or being associated with a tweet like that. It’s not a case of being precious or prissy, merely a case of being professional.

We were given some sweets as a joke. A joke we all enjoyed and therefore chose to share with our Twitter followers in such a way that it was generic and available for anyone to enjoy and, in fact, many did enjoy it.

So, while Mr Smith attempts to tie us in knots with muddying the waters, obfuscating, prevaricating and just generally trying to discredit the RM and yet in another breath expecting us to work with them, we’ll carry on working and talking to people who can and will help us wrest Bluebird K7 from the physical possession of BBP, and fulfil the 2006 Campbell Family Deed of Gift to the RM as was originally agreed. It really is that simple, and the only reason any of this is being debated is because one person has tried to move the goalposts on that original arrangement.

That agreement is between the Campbells and the RM and BBP are not, and never have been signatories to it. Hopefully the day when Bluebird K7 is installed safely in the museum will come before too long, and we can make arrangements for her to be run in a safe, competent, and professional manner on Coniston Water.

1,504 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

An Open Reply to an Open Letter

Dear trustees, Your open letter was read with dismay and some team members have responded privately to which I add my thoughts, which have recently been echoed by many. Everyone is entitled to voice a


bottom of page