House on the Hill Museum

Racing car driver Sir Malcolm Campbell

Sir Malcolm Campbell (11th March 1885 – 31st December 1948) gained the world speed record on land and on water at various times during the 1920s and 1930s using vehicles called “Bluebird”. His son, Donald Campbell, carried on the family tradition by holding both land speed and water speed records.

In 1910 Sir Malcolm Campbell began racing cars at Brooklands. He christened his car “Bluebird”, painting it blue, after seeing the play “The Blue Bird” by Maurice Maeterlinck at the Haymarket Theatre.

He broke the Land Speed Record for the first time in 1924 at 146.16mph at Pendine Sands near Carmarthen Bay in a 350HP V12 Sunbeam. Malcolm broke nine land speed records between 1924 and 1935. His first two records were driving a racing car manufactured by the Sunbeam Car Company in Wolverhampton.

He set his final land speed record at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah on 3rd September 1935, and was the first person to drive an automobile over 300 miles per hour (301.337 mph).

He developed and tested Bluebird on Tilgate Lake, Crawley. He set the water speed record four times, his highest speed being 141.740 mph in the Bluebird K4 on 19th August 1939 on Coniston Water, England.

He died after a series of strokes in 1948 in Reigate, Surrey, aged 63 years. He was one of the few land speed record holders of his era to die of natural causes, as so many had died in crashes. His versatile racing on different vehicles made him internationally famous.

Sir Malcolm Campbell Bluebird