A RETIRED engineer who restored a famous hydroplane has said he is ‘bang up for’ a meeting with the museum he has been at loggerheads with over the future of the historic vessel.

Coniston’s Ruskin Museum and Bluebird Project’s Bill Smith have been engaged in a long-running tug-of-war over Bluebird K7, the vessel in which water-speed record-breaker Donald Campbell perished at Coniston Water in 1967.

The dispute centres around the conditions for the return of Bluebird to the museum following restoration by Mr Smith’s team on Tyneside.

Read more: 'So be it' - Restored hydroplane might have to be dismantled

Bosses at the Ruskin Museum, who want the boat returned for display at the museum, are hoping to meet with Mr Smith to discuss the future of the vehicle.

The Mail: Donald Campbell’s Bluebird K7 crashes on Coniston Water on January 4 in 1967Donald Campbell’s Bluebird K7 crashes on Coniston Water on January 4 in 1967

Mr Smith, who wants to run the restored hydroplane on water for part of the year, said his team had been trying to secure a meeting with the museum for ‘a very long time’.

It comes after two Bristol Siddeley Orpheus Engines were gifted to the museum for the future use in Bluebird K7 by French-based Company, Global Hardware.

The company, which among other projects, restores aircraft, said it was also making a direct financial contribution to the museum to go towards any legal costs that may be incurred in getting Bluebird K7 into the Bluebird wing of the museum.

The wreckage, which the Campbell family gifted to Coniston’s Ruskin Museum in 2006, was handed over to Mr Smith on the understanding that, once restored, it would be returned to Coniston.

Read more: 'Appalled' - Final appeal made for record-breaking Bluebird to be returned

However, despite the completion of an £800,000 purpose-built extension to house the boat in 2010, Coniston is still to see the boat’s return.

Jeff Carroll, vice chair of trustees at the Ruskin Museum said: “This is a fantastic gift to the museum and helps enormously.

"The fight to ‘Bring Bluebird Home’ continues and the gift of these engines and a possible third unit is extremely important as K7’s current engine is on loan to The Bluebird Project (BBP) and is not in dispute; we always knew that we would have to source an engine and a reserve elsewhere.

The Mail: Donald Campbell on his Bluebird K7 at ConistonDonald Campbell on his Bluebird K7 at Coniston

"These engines are increasingly rare beasts, so this is an amazing donation and shows the huge support we are generating for K7 being brought home.

“We are currently in discussions with Bill Smith of BBP with the intention of holding a meeting between him and representatives of the museum in the coming days to see if we can get Bluebird K7 to her spiritual home in Coniston, without resorting to legal action. To be clear these talks would be an opportunity to understand if the BBP stance has changed at all and see if any common ground exists.

“We have also asked Mr Smith to return K7’s engine air inlet duct assembly including the bullet nose, which we would like to fit to the engines when we “dry” run them prior to installing one in the hull of K7.

“Mr Smith claims that the assembly was in poor condition when retrieved from the boat, and the substantial remedial work required gives the restorers title to the component, which we would dispute. However, our access to extensive photographic records and discussions with experts shows that the part was incredibly well preserved with only minor restoration works needed.”

The Mail: The restored Bluebird K7 before it took to the water for the first time in more than 50 years off the Isle of Bute on the west coast of ScotlandThe restored Bluebird K7 before it took to the water for the first time in more than 50 years off the Isle of Bute on the west coast of Scotland

Mr Smith, who was among the divers to retrieve the wreckage, said: “The Bluebird Project has been trying and trying for a long time to get a meeting.

“We need to sit and talk about this, it’s promising.

“I’m bang up for it.

“It was the dream from day dot that we’d build a boat that was capable of running.

“When you make something that can be run you can’t just let it stand around to deteriorate.

“It was always agreed that the Bluebird Project, being the most experienced team, would therefore look after it and we would also operate it and take it out on water, that was always the deal.

“Now it would appear that they’re trying to go back on that deal.

“We spent 15 years, heart and soul, building a machine that we were going to look after and operate and they were going to display it.

“And that’s what we want, we just want what was agreed.

“It was a win win, they’d get the best team to look after it and keep it in the public eye and they get to show it the rest of the time.

“We can’t run it all year, that would be crazy, and the rest of the time it has to go somewhere.”