January 4th-On this day in 1967, Donald Campbell was killed on Coniston Water trying to break his own water-speed record whilst travelling at more than 300mph. His daughter Gina, herself a water-speed record breaker is quoted ” He always said that Coniston would get him some time, and that the lake used to wink at him…and say “I’ll get you one day”, and of course, she did”.
Not many people realise that Donald Campbell suffered with severe bouts of depression and wrote in his dairies;
`Life, the future, seemed a pit of unending depression. All we had worked for, aspired to, just a mangled twisted metal. Now there was nothing, only debt and despair. ”
`There was much to be done. My capacity for work, pathetic, I couldn’t sleep; the bouts of nervous fear, frequent and exhausting. ”
`Until now I had always had an utter contempt for suicide . . .”
There are some who now believe that Donald’s fatal crash on Coniston Water was in fact suicide. We will never know for certain but what we do know is that he was a tortured soul for many years, living life on the brink and in the end, he paid the ultimate price.
Campbell’s body was only recovered from Lake Coniston in May 2001 and he was interred in Coniston cemetery on 12 September 2001 after his coffin was carried around the lake.
You will find a memorial to Donald Campbell on the Village Green in Coniston as well as photographs and memorabilia as part of the Campbell exhibit in the Ruskin Museum situated near the town centre.
RIP Donald Campbell