Fifty years ago today, just before 9.00am, Britain lost a unique individual, a man whose patriotism, courage, superstition, determination and insecurities made him one of the most complex, remarkable characters ever to attempt to do what no man had done before. His name was Donald Campbell.

He was, of course, the son of Sir Malcolm Campbell, the serial Land Speed Record breaker of the 1920s and 1930s and it is said Donald went to his watery grave on Lake Coniston trying to live up to memory of the Old Man. But Leo Villa, the long-serving engineer to both generations of Campbell and the man who perhaps understood him best, saw it another way. As soon as the young Donald started toying with the idea of record-breaking, Villa told him: ‘Once you start this, there’s no end to it. When it’s in your blood, it’ll be there for good.’