BLUEBIRD PARTS MYSTERY DEEPENS

THE search to find two lost parts of Donald Campbell's famous Bluebird craft has led to Bolney.

All evidence had previously pointed to the two missing floats or sponsons being buried at Tidy's Industrial Estate in Ditchling but new revelations now centre on the old Bluebird Marine buildings in Bolney.

David Barry contacted the Mid Sussex Times from Australia after seeing the appeal for information in the Mid Sussex Times.

At that time he was a driver, storeman and packer working for a firm based at Tidy's.

The Bluebird Project is rebuilding the iconic speedboat which flipped and plunged to the depths of Lake Coniston as Donald Campbell hit speeds of over 300mph in his attempt to break the world water speed record in 1967.

Much of the original wreckage has since been recovered as and the Bluebird is now being painstakingly rebuilt.

David said: "I started work with Norco Electrics Ltd in the summer of 1971; this was a branch of Norris Brothers and was based on the Harlands Estate.

"My job was to deliver electric motors all over the country, which Norco imported from Bulgaria. These electric motors were stored in a brand new warehouse at Tidy's Yard, Ditchling, where I also served as storeman and packer.

"As you drove into the yard the warehouse complex was on the left, and the Norco store was about half-way along. This new complex was built and occupied by June 1971. I should know as I was based there!

"When we had a delivery from Bulgaria there was chaos at Tidy's Yard as I had to sort and stack many pallets of electric motors, and sometimes space was a bit tight.

"On the floor of my warehouse were two pallets of what I thought was scrap metal; it was mainly blue painted twisted aluminium, maybe a dozen pieces, and I distinctly remember there being a float shaped object on one pallet.

"I thought little of it, except that they were always in the way and I had to shift them many times with the fork lift.

I once asked my boss, Ron, why we needed these bits of metal and he explained that they were the only known remains of Bluebird! At the time this was not very exciting as Bluebird was wrecked only four years previously.

"One day the phone rang and I was asked to take the Bluebird parts over to Bolney in the van. At Bolney was another branch of Norris Brothers known as Bluebird Marine where jet boats were built.

"I knew the blokes there quite well as I used to tow the jet boats to a lake near East Grinstead for testing, as well as delivering them to the Boat Show at Earls Court, and to the docks for export.

"On arrival at Bolney a friend called Geoff McLeod helped me unload the parts. When I asked him what they were doing with them he told me they were going to be buried in the foundations of a new building that was planned for the Bolney site.

"Somehow I thought it appropriate that Bluebird parts were buried at Bluebird Marine.

"I left Norco before the end of 1971, but the parts were definitely still in existence then.

"It is of course quite possible that they were moved back to Ditchling after I left, but they couldn't have been buried under the main warehouse complex, which was already completed."