Sunday, January 1, 2023

Where Dibnah mucked around

As Fred Dibnah’s former home comes to the market, Matthew Steeples is reminded of a true BBC legend


As the nation continues to cringe in horror every time the name “Savile” is mentioned, memories of another BBC relic of the 1980s resurfaced when it was revealed that Fred Dibnah’s former home is for sale.


Dr. Frederick “Fred” Dibnah MBE (1938 – 2004)
121 Radcliffe Road, The Haulgh, Bolton, Lancashire, BL2 1NU (originally known as Park Cottage)

For those of our readers who weren’t fortunate enough to be alive when Dibnah graced our screens, he, unlike Savile, was a legend who truly deserves the accolade of such a title. This thrice-married Lancastrian was a steeplejack who became a television personality just as his breed died out. He didn’t understand why he’d become famous and of it commented:


“It’s a funny thing, this celebrity. If you don’t wave back you’re a miserable bugger, if you do wave back you’re a big-headed bugger. I don’t know.”


Fred Dibnah in his garden
A view of the “garden”

Fred Dibnah preferred to think of himself as “just a bum who climbs chimneys” but he ought instead be remembered for his forthright manner. Amongst the legendary comments this “chimney feller” came out with were remarks like:


“The modern world stinks… We’ve become a nation of con men, living by selling double-glazing to each other… Teaching boys to bake cakes? That’s no way to maintain an industrial empire… Them fancy London types don’t know the pleasure of eating chips with fingers… I prefer the past to the present. Because life today, with all its modern technology, isn’t very good, is it? And the future looks even worse.”


Dibnah bought 121 Radcliffe Road in Bolton in 1967 for £5,000. A Grade II listed former park keeper’s lodge, the building is known as “Two Cats” locally because of the coat of arms of the Earl of Bradford on one of the gables features two leopards and is said to have been built in 1854.


The cottage was the setting of the filming of many scenes from Dibnah’s shows and it was here also in 2003, whilst undergoing chemotherapy, that Dibnah decided to embark on the construction of a replica coal mine with his friend Alf Molyneux. His rationale for this was simple: “It’s not everyone who has a coal mine in their back garden.”


An attempt to auction the house with a guide price of £300,000 to £350,000 in 2007 failed because of a boundary dispute
A Bolton & District Civic Trust plaque commemorates Dibnah having lived there from 1967 until 2004

Leon and Jeanette Powsney purchased the derelict property in 2009 for £185,000 and set about turning part of it into a 5-bedroomed home for themselves and the remainder into The Fred Dibnah Heritage Centre.


Visitors, who come by the coachload, are able to tour the yard and see Dibnah’s machinery. Amongst that on show are steam-powered workshop with a circular saw, a band saw and a hydraulic hammer. The 70ft mine shaft remains and in addition there is a 50ft chimney, a gift shop and a small tearoom. The venture turns over about £100,000 per annum and is now for sale through agents Intelligent Business Transfer.


Mr Powsney, who is planning to move abroad, commented:


“We’re selling it as a going concern. It was a business set up against all the odds, we saved it from being flattened and from being redeveloped. We have worked hard to make the centre what it is, and have invested a lot of money in it. We think there’s potential for a buyer to make a tidy profit from it, but we’re looking to relax a bit more now.”


If the asking price of £1,250,000 sought by Mr & Mrs Powsney is achieved, I’m sure the legendary steeplejack wouldn’t disagree that here is a case of: “Where there’s muck, there’s brass.”


For further details about 121 Radcliffe Road, The Haulgh, Bolton, Lancashire, BL2 1NU contact Intelligent Business Transfer on +44 800 612 7718 or go to:


To visit the museum contact Leon Pownsey on +44 (0) 1204 531303 or via email at: [email protected]


Watch a video of Fred Dibnah in his garden:

The Steeple Times
The Steeple Times
We research and background check our articles. If you believe we have made and error in some detail please get in touch, we seek always to write the truth and stand against a press owned by a self selected few. Please help us, we will accept all your likes, subscriptions and anonymous suport. The Editor and his team at the Steeple Times.


  1. That’s a lovely piece Matthew and I couldn’t agree more with the sentiment. I am part of the family company who made all of Fred’s later programmes for the BBC (from 1998 until his death). And was lucky enough to be there when some of those famous quotes were made!
    Along with all the programmes that were made for TV we’ve also produced other Dibnah DVDs. They’re all available in our shop at with a free Dibnah gift with every purchase. If you think it may be of interest to your readers I can give you an exclusive code for a 10% off anything in the shop.
    One particular disc that may be of interest based on your piece is the Dig with Dibnah DVD as along with the full 1hr programme there are another 2hrs of extras not seen on TV.
    Just get in touch if you’d like the code for your readers

  2. Dyou what, after all these years Fred, I mean the Great Fred will not be forgotten. Not while I’m alive. Never met himself but did meet Alf at a show. Still remembered with great affection. As he said once on screen ‘He was born in the wrong times’. Respect. RIP Fred Dibnah.

  3. Fred was a great soul who always made time for people,one of a kind. He will never be forgotten,a true guiding light that’s sadly missed love and light Fred.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

£1 per week Supports The Steeple Times

Help journalism to remain honest & independent. You can make a difference to the world today.


Subscribe For DAILY NEWS

Please subscribe, like and share this unique site, it helps us tremendously. The Steeple Times in return will send you an email at noon each and everyday, that we sincerely hope you will enjoy & look forward to seeing in your inbox.


Trending Now

Shock Horror (Not)! MPs Engaged in “Sex & Heavy Drinking” On Trips Abroad

That that ‘The Guardian’ is shocked by news that MPs – mostly Tories, it seems – “engaged in ‘sex and heavy drinking’ on trips abroad” is actually beyond bloody laughable.

Crypto Crook’s Big Short – Will Sam Bankman-Fried Story Be Turned Into Blockbuster?

Crypto crook Sam Bankman-Fried astonishingly gets to hang out with the author of ‘The Big Short’ in spite of being on £207 million bail and now has not only Ghislaine Maxwell’s lawyer onside but also Prince Andrew’s judge to face also.

Five Unlikely Things Famous Footballers Did Next…

David Lennox shares the little-known stories of what five famous footballers did next after retiring their pitch time prowess – amongst them everything from novel writing to forensic detective work.

Most Popular Articles

Justice for James Scurlock

Power of social media proven after senseless killing of James Scurlock in Omaha, Nebraska allegedly by a controversial bar owner named Jake Gardner who has been photographed with Donald Trump.

Moron of the Moment – Prince Harry

With his marriage to the woman formerly known as Meghan Markle, Prince Harry has morphed into an utter bore   Prince Harry used to be a...

Scobie Orf!

‘MeGain’s’ bestie Omid Scobie deservedly gets slammed by ‘Yankee Wally’ Sadie Quinlan for getting her shut down on Twitter; this childish chap should now just ‘belt up, wrap up and shut up.’

A Massive Media Maelstrom – McCann, Mandelson and Maxwell

Matthew Steeples highlights how the ‘Mandelson Media Method’ is very much in play in both the case of the Prince Andrew-Jeffrey Epstein connection and the renewed interest in the Madeleine McCann disappearance.

The Phil & Matt Show

Phillip Schofield filmed smoking shisha with his alleged ex-lover Matt McGreevy (and pictured in bed thereafter); another image shows the pair together in photograph...

Plane Perverted

EXCLUSIVE – Previously unnamed 9-year-old child pictured on the lap of Jeffrey Epstein on his plane in ‘Daily Mail’ suggested to be daughter of billionaire Glenn Dubin.

Moron of the Moment 2021 – Richard Madeley

As the new Diana, Princess of Wales statue is mocked as looking like him, ‘Dorian Gray of Daytime Telly’ Richard Madeley pathetically claims he got PTSD due to worrying about his son’s wedding.

Most Liked...

Ampika Pickston

Ampika Pickston
Oldham born divorcee and former glamour model Ampika Pickston describes herself as “feisty, fun loving and warm hearted”. Now based in Hale Barns, Cheshire...

Picture of the Week: The Wallies of Whalley

Picture of the Week: A field at Whalley Arches, Lancashire before and after flooding
Image of flooded Lancashire field complete with sign advertising it as a development site for 39 homes illustrates the perils of building on flood...

Was Mucky Minx Meghan Markle A ‘Yacht Girl’ For ‘Randy Andy’?

Was Meghan Markle A ‘Yacht Girl’ For ‘Randy Andy’?
As author Kirby Sommers suggests that the then Meghan Markle likely spent time with Prince Andrew and Jeffrey Epstein before she met Prince Harry, we again highlight the mucky, murkiness and mendacious manner of this alleged “yacht girl.”

Suggestions Please – Best & Worst of 2022; Heroes & Villians

Suggestions Please – Best & Worst of 2022; Heroes & Villians
‘The Steeple Times’ requests submissions of the best and worst people of 2022 along with suggestions of those who’ll be missed and who won’t.

Hacked Off Piers! Piers Morgan’s Twitter Infiltrated

Hacked Off Piers Morgan Hugh Grant
As Piers Morgan gets hacked on Twitter, we remind readers of his ongoing spat with the especially ‘Hacked Off’ actor Hugh Grant.