Record-breaking Bluebird K3 returns to water after Eastbourne restoration

Karl Foulkes Halbard at the wheel of Bluebird K3 on an earlier test run
Karl Foulkes Halbard at the wheel of Bluebird K3 on an earlier test run

Sir Malcolm Campbell’s world water speed record-breaking hydroplane Bluebird K3 takes to the water once more this month after extensive restoration at Filching, near Eastbourne.

Commissioned in 1937 to rival the Americans’ efforts in the fight for the world water speed record, Bluebird K3 set three records with Sir Malcolm at the helm.

There were two in as many days on Switzerland’s Lake Maggiore in September 1937, before raising the bar to 130.91mph at Lake Hallwyl, also in Switzerland, in August 1938.

Part of the Foulkes Halbard Collection housed at Filching Manor Motor Museum, Bluebird K3 has been undergoing an extensive restoration ahead of her Bewl Water test run on Tuesday, September 26.

Karl Foulkes Halbard, Bluebird K3’s owner, said: “The restoration is a real labour of love by a small but dedicated team at Filching Manor. We have rebuilt the engine and electrics and the Bewl Water date will be a test of those systems.

“As the largest stretch of open water in the South East and being so close to our base in Sussex, Bewl Water is the ideal place for this test run and, all being well, the public will get a great view of Bluebird K3 back in action.”

Howard Mackenzie of Bewl Water said: “We know the Filching Manor team well and have been following their work on Bluebird K3 closely.

“To have such an historic vessel running here is a great honour and something we are excited to have the chance to see.”

Bewl Water, near Tunbridge Wells, will be open to the public during the test, with parking at just £2 for the whole day. The Waterfront Café will be open between 10am and 5pm.

The first of a number of test runs on the day is expected to take place at about 11am, but all activity and timings are subject to weather and mechanical considerations.

Spectators planning to visit Bewl Water specifically to view the test runs are advised to check for updates at run-of- blue-bird- k3/ before setting out on their journey.