Extracts from a series of recently discovered 16mm films which document the construction of the original Bluebird-Proteus CN7 in 1960 will be shown on Tern TV’s documentary on Donald Campbell tonight at 8pm on BBC2. The programme is called Donald Campbell: Speed King.
The footage, which was found in a cupboard at ‘Body In White’ suppliers Stadco Ltd in Coventry last year, has been digitised by MACE and the original material is now preserved in our temperature controlled archive store.
The discovered reel is made up of a series of short 16mm colour mute films which document the construction in stages, from the building of the chassis to the body work, including the hand-painting of the Bluebird’s flag emblem, vehicle testing and shots of Donald Campbell trying out the cockpit.
This version of the CN7 was built by Motor Panels (Coventry) Ltd in 1960 but Campbell’s attempt at breaking the record at Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah, USA ended with the CN7 crashing at high speed on 16 September 1960. The vehicle was written off. The 16mm films we hold do not include footage of the failed attempt itself, but they do include films of the team preparing before the attempt on the salt flats, and shots of the vehicle in the crash aftermath.
The CN7 was subsequently rebuilt by Motor Panels with design enhancements and went on to break the record in Australia on July 17th, 1964.
These colour films are of great quality and piece together the construction in great detail. We don’t know at this stage if the material has been seen by a wide audience before. The films that were found were un-cut negatives, but other prints may have been used at the time and have perhaps been used in documentaries since.
We will blog about the films again in the future and upload extracts onto our website. Meanwhile, we hope you will enjoy the clips that are included in tonight’s programme.
MACE would like to say a special thanks to Stadco Ltd for providing us with permission to supply clips to Tern TV.