Fred DibnahFrederick "Fred" Dibnah MBE (28 April 1938 – 6 November 2004) was born in Bolton. He was an English steeplejack and a popular television personality. He had a keen interest in mechanical engineering, especially old industrial machinery. At the time of Fred Dibnah's birth, Great Britain relied almost entirely on coal to fuel its massive industry.

Chimney & SpireHe was fascinated by the many steam engines that powered the textile mills, but he had a special interest in factory chimneys. He started work as a joiner, before becoming a steeplejack. At 22 years old he served two years in the armed forces, as part of his national service. After that he returned to steeplejacking but did not get much work until he was asked to repair Bolton's parish church. The publicity from this gave him a welcome boost to his business and he was rarely out of work. Up until this point in his life it was generally a struggle to make ends meet.

In 1978, whilst making general repairs to Bolton Town Hall, he was filmed by the regional BBC news. In 1978, whilst making general repairs to Bolton Town Hall, he was filmed by the regional BBC news. Due to his personality and interests, the BBC commissioned an award-winning documentary, which followed the life of a rough-hewn steeplejack as he worked on chimneys. His gentle Lancastrian manner and philosophical outlook was popular with viewers.

Later on, the decline of Britain's industry caused a decline in his steeplejacking business. In 1998, he presented a programme and series about Britain's industrial history. It was mainly about the industrial revolution and its mechanical and architectural legacy.

Cog LogoSTEEPLEJACK noun: A person who climbs tall structures such as chimneys and steeples in order to carry out repairs.

 

 

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