The Campbell Slides – Cheffins 21st April 2007

Cheffins Auctioneers are to offer a re-discovered archive of Malcolm and Donald Campbell images at their “Vintage” sale on the 21st April 2007, to be held at The Saleground, Sutton Near Ely Cambridgeshire.

This collection of glass “magic lantern” slides (each 80mm x 80mm, 188 in total), were rescued by the vendor from the fate of a bonfire some 48 years ago having been cleared from the cellar of the famous Reigate Hill Hotel which was owned by the vendors aunt, Margaret Park.

Donald Campbell and his wife lived in the hotel during 1949 and rented the hotel garage where Leo Villa, Malcolm and Donald’s mechanic, set up shop to work on the first “Coniston” Bluebird.
The slides were only looked at again in the last 5 years by the vendor when, once again they were cleared out, this time from the family garage by his father.

Obviously professional images, certain chronicled events are depicted featuring Malcolm Campbell and his team which are believed to be: 1922 record attempt at Saltburn, Fanoe and Pendine c1924, Daytona 1928 and 1934, the 1929 trip to Cape Town and the Sahara and the 1928 treasure hunting trip to Cocos Island aboard Kenelm Lee Guinness’s yacht.

Many other fascinating images are present including the young Donald sat in his fathers Bluebird, Malcolm at speed in a Bugatti during a road race in France, a record of the plane crash in which Malcolm was injured in Africa as well as many general views.

Certain of these images, or ones very close, appear in “My Thirty Years of Speed” by Malcolm Campbell c1934, “The Romance of Motor Racing” published by Hutchinson c1936, “BP Book of the Racing Campbell’s” c1960, “Life With The Speed King” by Leo Villa c1979 and “The Record Breakers” by Leo Villa c1969.

This latter publication credits many of the photographs as coming from the authors – private collection however the origin of the slides would seem, most logically, to lie with Sir Malcolm, perhaps used to illustrate lectures and speeches, certainly there is cause for further research.

It should be noted that some slides are cracked and potential purchasers must satisfy themselves as to the condition of the lot before bidding. A fascinating archive with scope for producing some stunning images.