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Page last updated at 10:23 GMT, Tuesday, 15 June 2010 11:23 UK
Fred Dibnah's heritage goes on display in Bolton

Fred Dibnah's former home on Radcliffe Road in Bolton

Fred Dibnah's former home has been turned into a heritage centre celebrating the late steeplejack's passion for industry and machines.

The Fred Dibnah Heritage Centre is housed in the former gatehouse that Fred lived in until his death in 2004.

The industrial enthusiast had a myriad of engineering built in his back garden, including a working mine shaft.

Owner Leon Powsney said that he decided to convert the property into the centre as it was "what Fred always wanted."

He did mention it a time or two and his wife Sheila mentioned it, so I'm sure he'd be very pleased
Alf Molyneaux

Leon bought Fred's house after it originally failed to sell at auction and admitted to BBC Radio Manchester that initially, he had no idea what to do with the Victorian building and its grounds.

"To be honest, I didn't know what I was going to do with it when I moved in.

"But then it soon became obvious what we had to do, because there was that many people peering over the fence, it was incredible.

"Fred was so popular that I couldn't do anything else with the property other than turn it into a heritage centre.

"I found out that was what Fred always wanted and that just fortified my belief that that was what we were going to do."

'Pure magic'

A planning process followed, before Leon and his wife Jan got the permission they wanted and began converting the property into a museum.

Fred Dibnah
Born 28 April 1938; died 6 November 2004
Married three times
First appeared on TV on BBC North West Tonight (then Look North)
Featured in several major BBC series
Demolished his last chimney in 2002
Statue unveiled in Bolton in 2008

That was no inconsiderable task, as in the time between Fred's death and Leon's purchase, the property had been vandalised, burgled and ransacked.

But with plenty of hard work from his team of restorers, builders and volunteers, Leon has managed to bring it back to its former glory.

Phil Humphries is one of the volunteers at the Heritage Centre and he described the whole thing as "magic".

Adding: "You can see for yourself, it's got an ambience about it and this is all to do with Fred Dibnah.

"It's the mine shaft, it's the workshop, it's the top of the chimney - it's magic, pure magic.

"Fred was an icon. My late wife used to love watching Fred on the television and I saw him once knocking a chimney down."

It isn't just the volunteers that have given the centre a seal of approval, as it also has as near as it can get to Fred's own praise - that of his best friend and fellow industrial enthusiast Alf Molyneaux.

Alf joined Fred on his final tour of the UK and spent many an hour beside the furnaces and boilers of the machines behind the fences at Radcliffe Road.

He said that Fred would be "pleased about it."

"I'm sure he would, because he did mention it a time or two and his wife Sheila mentioned it, so I'm sure he'd be very pleased."

The centre was officially opened on Tuesday 15 June 2010.

Fred Dibnah's historic home sold
18 Sep 08 |  Manchester
Dibnah statue unveiled
29 Apr 08 |  England
Memorial unveiled to Fred Dibnah
20 Mar 06 |  Manchester
Obituary: Fred Dibnah
06 Nov 04 |  TV and Radio
1983: Tomcat halts steeplejack
24 May 07 |  On This Day


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