Fred Dibnah MBE

Steeplejack, Television Presenter and Mechanical Engineer.


Fred Dibnah 1 Fredrick Dibnah was born on the 28th April 1938 in Bolton.

He began his working life as a joiner before he became a steeplejack.

After completing his two years National Service in the armed forces, Fred was demobbed in1962 and returned to steeplejacking but the decline in the cotton industry affected his work. Mills all over the town were closing and he struggled to get work.

Then he was  asked to repair the Bolton Parish Church, and  the publicity that  followed helped to boost his flagging business ensuring that he was always  in employment.

He also made repairs to Bolton’s stunning Town Hall where decades of wear had caused serious damage to the clock tower. Fred repaired the clock tower and gilded the golden sphere at the top of the building. Whilst he was working on the town hall he was approached by the BBC Look North West News programme, who wanted to interview him, the interview took place at the top of the town hall with Fred perched outside on his scaffolding.


This led to television appearances and further interviews, most of them hundreds of feet in the air, and he was contacted by a producer with a view to making a documentary and this was a great success, he was asked to do many more over the years and in 1979 Fred won the BAFTA award for best documentary.

Fred Dibnah was recognised as the stereotypical northern working man and he was held in high esteem by many British people, he was unique and his like we will never see again, he was one of a kind.

Fred Dibnah 3Fred Dibnah died Bolton Hospice on the 6th of November 2004 he was 66 years old, he is buried in Tonge Cemetery on the outskirts of Bolton town centre, thousands turned out to watch his funeral. His coffin was towed through the centre of Bolton by his restored tractor engine which was driven by his son and a possession of steam-powered vehicles made their way to Bolton Parish Church.



Fred Dibnah 2Today a bronze statue of  stands in Bolton town centre in memory of Fred Dibnah MBE.

A play titled “The Demolition Man” was staged at Bolton’s Octagon Theatre in tribute to Freds early life.