Biography of Malcolm Campbell

Photo of Malcolm Campbell

Sir Malcolm Campbell was the holder of numerous land speed records and  father of Donald Campbell.

When and Where was he Born?

11th March 1885, Chislehurst, Kent, England.

Family Background:

Malcolm Campbell was the son of William Campbell, a watchmaker and jeweller.


Prep School near Guildford, Surrey. Uppingham Public School, Rutland.

Timeline of Malcolm Campbell:

After leaving school Campbell went into the insurance industry at Lloyds of London which enabled him to take up the expensive sports of bike and later motor racing.

1906: He achieves a Gold Medal in the London to Edinburgh motorcycle trails.

1907: Malcolm Campbell achieves a Gold Medal in the London to Edinburgh motorcycle trails.

1908: He achieves a Gold Medal in the London to Edinburgh motorcycle trails.

1909: Campbell first becomes interested in flying aeroplanes.

1910: He begins racing cars at Brooklands racing circuit.

1912: After seeing the play “L’Oiseau Bleu”, written by the Belgian dramatist Maurice Maeterlinck, Sir Malcolm (and afterwards his son Donald and later his granddaughter Gina) name all his cars and boats Bluebird and feel his lucky colour was blue.

1913: He marries Marjorie Dagmar Knott.

1914-18: Period of the First World War during which he serves in the Royal Flying Corp of the British armed forces.

1915: He is divorced from Marjorie.

1920: He marries Dorothy Evelyn Whittall, (Dolly) the mother of Donald.

1921: The birth of his son Donald on the 23rd March.

1923: Campbell buys his first record-breaking car. Birth of his daughter Jean.

1924: He sets his first land speed record.

1927: Introduction of the second “Bluebird” Car, specifically built for achieving records with a Napier 450 h.p. broad arrow engine.

1931: He receives his Knighthood from King George the Fifth.

1935: “Bluebird” is fitted with a Napier aircraft engine for the first time. Campbell stands as a parliamentary candidate in the elections for the Deptford constituency but was unelected.

1937: Campbell turns his attention to Water Speed Records.

1939-45: During the period of the Second World War Malcolm Campbell serves on the staff of Combined Operations.

1940: He is divorced from Dotty.

1945: He marries Mrs Betty Hicory in Chelsea (they are separated after three months and divorced after two years).

1946: He sells his house (Headley Grove) to the Maharaja of Baroda and buys a house on the outskirts of Reigate from Sax Rohmer, the author of the novels featuring Fu Manchu.

When and Where did he Die?

31st December 1948, Little Gatton House, Reigate, Surrey, England after a series of strokes.

Age at Death:


Written Works:

1931: “My Great Adventure Speed”.
1936: “The Romance of Motor racing”.

Speed Records:


September 1924: Pendine Sands,Wales. (146.16 m.p.h)

July 1925: Pendine Sands, Wales. (150.86 m.p.h)February 1927: Pendine Sands, Wales. (174.88 m.p.h)February 1928: Daytona Beach, Florida, U.S.A. (206.95 m.p.h)February 1931: Daytona Beach, Florida, U.S.A. (246.09 m.p.h.)

February 1932: Daytona Beach, Florida, U.S.A. (253.97 m.p.h)February 1933: Daytona Beach, Florida, U.S.A. (272.46 m.p.h) February 1935: Daytona Beach, Florida, U.S.A. (276.88 m.p.h)September 1935: Bonneville Salt Flats, Utah, U.S.A. (301.13 m.p.h)


September 1937: Lake Maggiore, Switzerland. (126.33 m.p.h) September 1937: Lake Maggiore, Switzerland. (129.5 m.p.h) July 1938: Halwill, Switzerland. (130.93 m.p.h.) August 1939: Coniston Water, Cumbria. (141.74 m.p.h)


  1. 1913. Marjorie Dagmar Knott (divorced 1915).
  2. 1920. Dorothy Evelyn Whittall, (Dolly) mother of Donald. (divorced 1940)
  3. 1945 to Mrs Betty Hicory in Chelsea (separated after three months, divorced after two years).

Site of Grave:

St. Nicholas Parish Church, Chislehurst, Greater London, next to his parents.

Places of Interest:


Museum of Speed.
Pendine Sands.


Coniston Water.
Ruskin Museum, Coniston.


National Motor Museum, Bealieu.