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Last Updated: Wednesday, 31 December, 2003, 09:30 GMT
Fred Dibnah honoured
Fred Dibnah
Steeplejack Fred on top of the world
Steeplejack-turned-TV personality Fred Dibnah has been awarded an MBE for services to heritage and broadcasting.

The 65-year-old from Bolton, Greater Manchester, pledged to buy a new flat cap for his trip to Buckingham Palace.

And he said he was looking forward to meeting Prince Charles because they "share the same views about modern architecture".

I'm an old fashioned bloke and it is nice for the old school to get some recognition.
Fred Dibnah
Mr Dibnah, who is rarely seen without his cap, said: "I'm very proud they've chosen me for an award.

"I'm an old fashioned bloke and it is nice for the old school to get some recognition.

"I don't do what I do for awards - I do it because I love old chimneys and architecture and engineering. But it's still a real thrill to get this.

"I'm looking forward to meeting the Queen but I shall probably have to get a new cap.

"And I'd like to meet Prince Charles because we share the same views about modern architecture."

Demolition man

The father-of-six started work as a joiner but after completing his National Service he fulfilled his dream to be 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.

A Year With Fred followed and later documentaries chronicled the breakdown of his first marriage.

Although he preferred restoring chimneys, Dibnah was most famous for demolishing them, shunning dynamite for the more traditional method of replacing pieces of masonry with wood which is then set on fire.

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

His home is a living shrine to the industrial past and his outbuildings crammed with working steam-powered tools and machinery, bought or salvaged from factories as they closed down.

His current project, the subject of a documentary to be screened next month, is to have a 30-feet deep pit in his garden complete with winch as a way of using preserved coal mine machinery.

He said: "I've always wanted my own pit but the council is dragging its feet on planning permission.

"Perhaps if I tell them the government has honoured me for my services to heritage, that will work in my favour."

Evans knighted

Mr Dibnah was among several well-known north west names to receive honours.

The others included Sale and England rugby union star Jason Robinson and veteran newspaper editor Harold Evans.

The legendary journalist who was born into a working class family in Manchester receives a knighthood for his services to journalism.

He will not be known as Sir Harold as he became an American citizen after moving to the United States.

He worked on the Manchester Evening News during his early career, forging his reputation as an editor at the Northern Echo.

He went on to edit the Times and Sunday Times, winning high praise for his exposure of the thalidomide scandal.

In 1984, he left Britain for America with his second wife Tina Brown and the couple went on to dominate the media scene in New York.



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