Malcolm Campbell was born on 11 March 1885. The son of a diamond merchant, he soon developed an interest in speed. In 1924 he held the land speed record of 146.16 mph (miles per hour) achieved in an early Bluebird at Pendine Sands, Pembrokeshire. Bluebird became the name given to his machines for attempts on land and water, a tradition carried on in later years by his son Donald. In 1925 the record was raised to 150mph.
Over the next ten years rivalry between Malcolm Campbell and Henry Seagrave meant the land speed world record swapped between the two. Malcolm Campbell became the first man to exceed 300mph on 3 September 1935 on Bonneville Salt Flats, Utah.
Turning from records on land, he took the world water speed record in 1937 with a speed of 129.5mph, which he increased in 1938. Finally on 19 August 1939, at Coniston Water in the Lake District, he achieved a speed of 141.7mph, a record he still held when he died on 31 December 1948, in Reigate.
He was born in Rossmore on Chislehurst Common where he lived until 1894. Between 1895 and 1908 he lived at Norwood in Manor Park Road, Chislehurst.
A commemorative plaque is on Bonchester, a house in Bonchester Close, off Camden Park Road, Chislehurst, where Campbell’s parents lived between 1909 and 1922. There is no evidence that he ever lived there.