ISSUE 13, April 2005

The Campbells are coming: At speed!
Travel: Warming to Iceland
Royal Masonic Family: The Six Masonic Sons of George III, Part II
Quarterly Communication: Address of the Pro Grand Master and: Report of the Board of General Purposes
The flying eye hospital
Beamish Museum: The million pound project
  Wigan Grand Lodge: The Liverpool rebels
Chelsea Lodge: That's entertainment
Re-enactment: The way we were and: The Russian connection
Community Service: Weathering the storm
Faith and Freemasonry: God and the Craft
Education: Researching Freemasonry on the Internet and: Masonic events
Freemasons Hall: Masons at War
Grand Charity: Report and grant list and: Support for Asian tsunami
Masonic Charities: Reports from the Masonic charities
Obituaries, Letters, Book reviews, Gardening

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    Rather surprisingly the Masonic membership of Donald Campbell only came to light relatively recently, when the Library and Museum of Freemasonry in London were presented with his Masonic apron and case in April 1993. Most of the records that show Malcolm Campbell to have been active in the Craft fail to mention his son Donald as a Freemason.
    Donald Malcolm Campbell was born at Kingston, Surrey on 23 March 1921. He had a hard act to follow. His father was a true British hero adored by the nation. The relationship between father and son was never a happy one and certainly complicated by the fact that Sir Malcolm, overwhelmed by his own career and consuming ambition, found little time for his son who, in turn, idolised his dad.
    The tense relationship is manifest in an incident now well recorded. For his seventh birthday, Donald received a toy motorcar with a small and complete tool kit as a gift by his dad. Within hours he had dismantled the toy car into small pieces, with nuts and bolts dispersed in the house and garden. Malcolm Campbell was not amused. On the contrary, surprisingly angry and unsympathetic, he did not speak to his son for several days until the toy car had been re-assembled back into its original state.
    Donald was brought up, with his sister Jean, by a nursery governess and was soon sent to Horsham Preparatory School, seeing little of his father during his youth. Nonetheless, he admired and respected him and was to emulate his famous father with great pride and success.
    He began in reverse, so to speak, and took on speedboat racing first. It was almost natural to attempt his first record in the seat of his fatherís well-tested boat, the Bluebird K4, which he purchased from his fatherís estate. However, his early efforts were frustrated.
    In 1951, he crashed on Coniston Water in the Lake District, at a speed of 170 mph, and notwithstanding numerous other failures, he persisted and his perseverance paid off. In 1955, on Ullswater, and in his own newly designed Bluebird K7 boat, he set his first 202 mph world speed record on water.
    Between July 1955 and December 1964 Donald Campbell was to set world water speed records on seven different occasions, reaching 276.33 mph. He was honoured with the CBE for his achievements.
    In between these various failed attempts and record-breaking feats, Donald became a Freemason. He was initiated on 16 February 1953 into the prestigious Grand Masterís Lodge No. 1, having been introduced and proposed by the then Master, Robert James Coley, a wealthy scrap metal dealer and benefactor.
    By a good stroke of luck the Junior Deacon at the ceremony of Donaldís initiation is alive and well. I had the pleasure of speaking with Sir Kenneth Newton, Past President of the Board of General Purposes, and the most senior Past Master of the Lodge, having himself been initiated on 17 December 1945.
© Getty Images

© Getty Images

Sir Donald Campbell prepares to start a toy car race at his Horsham school in February 1931

Sir Malcolm Campbell in a Bluebird at Portsmouth prior to an attempt on the world's water speed record at Lake Coniston in 1947

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