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Last Updated: Saturday, 6 November, 2004, 16:00 GMT
TV's Dibnah loses cancer battle
Fred Dibnah
Steeplejack Fred battled against cancer
TV steeplejack Fred Dibnah, 66, has lost his three-year fight against cancer only weeks after filming his final television series.

Bolton-born Mr Dibnah, who became an unlikely celebrity, spurned treatment to tour the UK on a traction engine as part of a 12-part BBC Two series.

Mr Dibnah cancelled all engagements in September after he was taken ill during filming Made In Britain.

He died on Saturday surrounded by friends and family at Bolton Hospice.

Mr Dibnah's television career took off in his early 40s when he starred in the BBC TV documentary Fred Dibnah Steeplejack.

He was just a great bloke and a unique character - he will be sorely missed
Catherine Hall, TV production manager
Tributes have been paid to the man whose trademark flat cap and Bolton accent became an immediate hit with viewers.

His best friend, Alf Molyneaux, 63, who joined him on his final trip around the country, said: "I haven't seen him for a couple of weeks, it's been family only at the hospice for some time, but I was told by his son earlier today (Saturday) that he passed away peacefully surrounded by his family.

"His enthusiasm was infectious; he told me about his steam engines and the mine in his back garden and I asked if I could take a look.

"He was more than happy to show me and I was soon bitten by the bug."

Catherine Hall, 27, production manager with View from the North, the company which filmed his last series, said: "He was ill when we were filming, but you would never have known, he wasn't a complainer.

Clash with neighbours

"We used to have a nightmare sometimes because he would spend so long talking to fans and signing autographs.

"He was just a great bloke and a unique character; he will be sorely missed."

His passion for Victorian engineering caused the breakdown of his first marriage, and in recent years clashed with his neighbours for attempting to build a mineshaft in the back garden of his home in Bolton.

He was awarded the MBE in 2003, a year after he demolished his last chimney stack.

His final series is due to be broadcast in Spring 2005.

An unusual television star

Obituary: Fred Dibnah
06 Nov 04 |  Entertainment
In pictures: Fred Dibnah
06 Nov 04 |  Photo Gallery
Fred Dibnah honoured
31 Dec 03 |  Manchester
Illness forces Dibnah to cancel
02 Sep 04 |  Nottinghamshire
TV's Dibnah reveals cancer battle
21 May 04 |  Entertainment
'Demolition man' on the Tyne
06 Nov 02 |  England

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