Speed king Donald Campbell will be honoured when a refurbished hotel in Lancashire re-opens next month.
The Bluebird Inn, named after the jet-powered hydroplane in which the daredevil was killed during a world record attempt in 1967, will replace the former Boddingtons Arms at Samlesbury near Preston.
Brewers JW Lees and Co are spending more than £1m on refurbishing the pub and 20-room hotel, not far from the site of the engineering factory where Bluebird K7 was built in 1954.
“The purchase of the Boddington Arms follows our strategy of investing in quality pub and hotel businesses in the North West,” revealed William Lees-Jones, JW Lees managing director, “We have closed the Boddington Arms for a complete £1m-plus refurbishment to re-open in April as The Bluebird Inn at Samlesbury, named after Donald Campbell’s world-record breaking Bluebird K7 boat.”
JW Lees have acquired the hotel from Greene King. New general manager Peter Toft said: “JW Lees have always wanted a pub on the edge of the Ribble Valley, with its famous scenery, quaint villages, and of course, rural pubs.
“We’re going to return the pub to its former glory as a high quality country inn. The development will strip back the old décor and bring to life the charm and sophistication that was lost over the years.”
Campbell was attempting to break the magical 300 mph barrier on Coniston Water in 1967 when Bluebird’s nose lifted and the boat was catapulted 50 feet into the air. He died in the crash, although his body was not recovered until 2001. Bluebird was built by Samlesbury Engineering at a factory adjacent to Samlesbury Hall. The site is now a golf centre.
Built in 1954, the jet-powered craft was launched in January 1955. In it Donald Campbell set seven world water speed records, taking the mark from 178 mph to 276 mph over a nine-year period.
In January 1967 he was attempting to extend the record beyond 300 mph on Coniston Water when disaster struck.
On the north-south run he clocked an average of 297.6 mph. The second run was even faster and Bluebird was hitting more than 320 mph when her nose lifted and she flipped over, breaking up on impact.
Campbell’s body was found in 2001 when the craft was finally salvaged.