Donald Campbell’s death in 1967 on Coniston Water is well known. Before him, however, was the great Sir Henry Segrave (1896-1930).
Sets of rather macabre postcards sold as part of a larger collection at Richard Winterton (20% buyer’s premium) in Lichfield on May 13 show the scenes on June 13, 1930, when the racing driver and three-times land-speed record holder was killed while attempting to set a new water-speed mark on Windermere.
Sir Henry had turned from cars to boats in 1928, winning races in Lord Wakefield’s speedboat Miss England before tackling the water-speed record in a new craft, Miss England II.
The postcard views depict Sir Henry and his two crew members, mechanics Michael Willcocks and Vic Halliwell, in Miss England II on June 13, 1930, as they set off. Others show the boat as it cruised to a new speed record on its first two runs.
Further views depict the boat – thought to have flipped after hitting a tree branch – following the crash.
Sir Henry and Wilcocks were lifted out but the former’s injuries proved too much. Halliwell’s body was later recovered from the lake.
Miss England II herself was recovered and repaired, then remarkably used by Kaye Don to break two more world water speed records. Willcocks recovered from his injuries and would go on the ride again in Miss England II.
The same set of postcards included an image of Sir Malcolm Campbell in Blue Bird K4 on Coniston on August 19, 1939. Donald’s father, he also broke land and water speed records in the 1920s and 30s.
The postcards (and photocards) were in an album titled ‘Cumbria & Lake District. Transport’. Estimated at £150-250, the approximately 540 items sold for £1400. Another album of around 485 examples on ‘Cumbria at play’ made £1600 (guide £100-150). Both sold to a private collector bidding on the phone.
A different private collector bought about 385 images dedicated to ‘Cumbria at work’ for £1250 (estimate £80-120), also via the phone.
Attention to detail
Altogether, the Lake District postcards archive included about 4500 examples from the Edwardian era to the mid-20th century.
Richard Winterton ephemera specialist Robert French said: “From day-to-day working practices from bygone Cumbria to pre-First World War biplanes, trams, buses and now defunct railway stations to evocative images of the Lake District, this stunning collection was beautifully collated with huge attention to detail.”