HERSTMONCEUX MUSEUM, E. SUSSEX, UK
TRIBUTE - This beautiful example of automotive art was produced in the workshops adjacent to Herstmonceux Museum. It is one of the few racing cars to be able to (legally) carry the famous blue bird legend that is a registered trademark to protect against imitations of the battery cartridge recharging system and other design features that made this car so special.
The Bluebird-Electric 2 or BE2, was a faster version of the BE1, using the same pneumatic servo loaders and battery cartridges that were developed for an assault on the world electric land speed record (LSR) with the financial assistance of Sir Terence Conran and the Bourne Leisure Group (to name just two) between them contributing £155,000 to the project. Unfortunately, and it is now an uncontested fact, that the money that was pledged to the BE2 by a number of backers was diverted to convert a Formula Ford to electric drive - without the cartridge exchange system - and the BE2 designer was never paid for his work.
This radical departure from what had been agreed between the designer and his driver led to a Patent Court battle in London with the designer of the BE2 gaining an injunction to prevent the driver (Don Wales) from passing off any design of electric car such that it could be confused with the BE1 or BE2, or indeed, any electric car that was the work of the then land speed record project leader, the year was 1998.
Such measures were deemed to be necessary because the Formula Ford and subsequent efforts on the part of Malcolm Campbell's grandson to take the British LSR using vehicles without cartridge recharging and outdated battery technology, were doomed to failure. Thus it was that Donald Campbell's nephew brought the 'Blue Bird' brand name into disrepute, more than likely putting off any backers waiting in the wings from investing in a project that had good prospects of bringing the world electric LSR to Britain.
Campbell's grandson returned the BE2 on the day of the Patent Court hearing, but there was still no offer of settling the designer's fees and worse still, all the sponsor money in the company evaporated to defeat the claim for what had been an agreed rate of remuneration. Fortunately, from all of this in-house wrestling, at least the BE2 bodywork and buck was saved for posterity - and we have an interesting story to tell adding a bit of spice to this small piece of LSR history.
Just imagine though if the BE2 had been fielded at Pendine Sands and then perhaps Bonneville. The course of EV development may have altered from all the publicity that a new record would have generated, and that is why the designer began the Bluebird Electric project in the first place.
BE2 FRAME - The wooden frame of the Bluebird Electric 2 on which the formers were assembled to produce the GRP bodywork seen in the background.
BN27 1RF, UK
Telephone: 0044 1323 831727
Herstmonceux Museum, including Campbell Hall, is run by the Lime Park Heritage Trust and other not for profit concerns. The plans to admit the public to the site have been abandoned because of the additional administrative burdens and cost where Wealden District Council are not cooperating to help us allow access, but are rather hindering progress, not unusual, as many local businesses and farmers will agree. We recall the case of the soldier helped by crusaders Noel Edmonds and Keith Chegwin, with backing from Gordon Brown and David Cameron - and the 8,000 strong petition that was generated where public feeling was so strong.
The good news is that despite the local authority brake, that in the digital age we are planning a virtual tour - hoping that no onerous regulations might crop up for us to allow that to go ahead.
HERITAGE INDEX A - Z
BARCLAYS BANKING LET DOWN - MISSING ACCOUNT MONEY
OBSERVATORY - HERSTMONCEUX CASTLE
SOLAR LADY - STATUE