The Telegraph

Fred Dibnah

Steeplejack Fred Dibnah dies, aged 66

(Filed: 06/11/2004)

Steeplejack and television presenter Fred Dibnah has died aged 66.

Dibnah had been battling cancer for a number of years and was surrounded by his family when he died at Bolton Hospice, Greater Manchester.

The colourful and eccentric television personality received the MBE from the Queen at Buckingham Palace in July.

He left off his trademark flat cap for the ceremony, donning a suit with a cream tie and waistcoat.

He said about the cap shortly after collecting his award: "It's actually in my bag across the road in the barracks. It's really part of me. It's like a wig. I'm sure they would have asked me politely to remove it."

Dibnah received his award for services to heritage and broadcasting and took his green, black and gold eight tonne traction engine along with him to the Palace, parking it at a nearby barracks.

"We're going to have a ride round outside the Palace," he said. "As soon as I've got rid of this penguin suit, I will be in my engine driver's attire."

He was accompanied by his third wife Sheila and sons Jack and Roger.

The father-of-six started work as a joiner but after completing his National Service fulfilled his dream to become a steeplejack, servicing the hundreds of chimneys that once crowded the skies of Bolton.

In 1978 he was featured on a local news bulletin and then became the subject of a one-hour film called Fred Dibnah - Steeplejack.

Dibnah was most famous for demolishing chimneys, shunning dynamite for the more traditional method of replacing masonry with pieces of wood and then burning the wood.

He was the subject of several documentaries during the 1990s and later presented programmes including Fred Dibnah's Industrial Age, Age of Steam and the Building of Britain.