A GROUP of engineers working on Donald Campbell's Bluebird K7 have defended themselves after The Ruskin Museum served legal papers against them.

Campbell set seven world water speed records with the craft between 1955 and 1967.

During a run on January 4 1967 at Coniston Water the boat flipped at over 320mph. Mr Campbell was killed instantly and the wreckage sank to the bottom where it lay for 34 years. 

In 2001, Bill Smith and his team from the Bluebird Project managed to recover the boat from the bottom of the water.

At this point, Mr Smith said there had been an agreement from the Campbell estate and from Ruskin Museum that his team would restore the boat back to full working order as it was in 1967. 

The Westmorland Gazette: The team taking the boat out for testing in ScotlandThe team taking the boat out for testing in Scotland (Image: The Bluebird Project)

Mr Smith said that since around 2006 the project has been entirely self-funded. 

He said that the boat is now at a point where only the graphics and the canopy are left for the team to complete and that the ultimate aim is to see the boat at Coniston once again. 

The boat recently went up to Loch Tad in Scotland for testing. Mr Smith said that he had hoped for the boat to have its first runs in Coniston back in 2018 and 2019 but permission to operate it there was taken away and then the pandemic pushed back testing even further. 

The South Lakes MP Tim Farron recently weighed in on the issue after visiting the Ruskin Museum.

He said: "It was great to meet the team who are working so hard to get Bluebird back in Coniston and indeed back on Coniston.

The Westmorland Gazette: Donald Campbell with the boat Donald Campbell with the boat (Image: Newsquest)

“The Ruskin Museum was backed with public money on the basis that Bluebird’s home would be here.

READ MORE: Bluebird K7 dispute escalates between Ruskin Museum and Bill Smith

“For the sake of Donald Campbell's memory, his family, the legend of Bluebird and for the community of Coniston, it is so vital that Bluebird comes home.”

Mr Smith said: "What we were told is to give us your life's work. That was never the agreement, we will build a fully operational boat. 

"It was understood that we would be the design and maintenance people and the museum would do the display. It was all agreed but we never wrote it down in a way that stuck.

The Westmorland Gazette: The Ruskin Museum The Ruskin Museum (Image: Newsquest)

"In 2019 the plan was to come up to the water. It was a case of hand-over and leave, completely against what we spent the best part of twenty years working on.

"We never stopped working. We never stopped preparing it. We would love to run it in the water."

Mr Smith compared Bluebird to other British engineering marvels such as Concorde and the Vulcan Bomber, which have drawn in crowds from all over the UK when they have flown.  

"If it goes back in the museum without the team that brought it back to life it will deteriorate," he said.

"We will offer a small museum a worldwide attraction. You have got a full-time dedicated team of experts. If it is not working people will go and see it once and not see it again and it will become an exhibit."