Remember Dr Fred Dibnah
1938 - 2004
THE FRED DIBNAH HERITAGE CENTRE
121 Radcliffe Rd, Bolton, BL2 1NU
Tel: 01204 531303
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Hello! Please allow me to introduce my wife and myself as the owners of the Famous Fred Dibnah MBE's house and worksite. My name is Leon and my wife’s name is Jan. (If you want to know a little more about us, we will be adding more details soon, I know this is a contradiction in terms due to the heading of this page, but at the end of the day this is not really about us, it’s about the wonderful legacy that Fred Dibnah MBE left behind).
Suffice it to say that having bought Fred’s place (yes we still think of it as Fred’s place) our aim has always been to do what Fred wanted to do but sadly didn’t have time to do before he was called to that great steam engine room in the sky.
Would you believe when the boiler service engineer turned up 6 weeks later he stood on the doorstep visibly shocked and said “I’m a massive Fred fan, if you had said it was Fred’s home I would have made time to come the next day after you rang” aaarrgghh, that was our first experience of the power of Fred! The house was very cold and draughty even with the boiler fixed, of course when Fred was here he didn't feel the cold because he was used to working outside at great heights, so when his missus said she was cold, a typical reaction from Fred was “put another jumper you’ll be reet”. There were many (and I mean many) draughts that had to be plugged and sealed, and it’s a grade II listed building so all the windows are singe glazed so you can almost see the heat going straight out the windows. Let’s face it, there are some big windows, especially at the front of the house, so the heating bills are high. I have since fitted my own secondary double glazing, although it’s far from perfect but it has made a difference!
(c) Keith Langston - Perceptive Imaging
Anyhow again we got stuck in with draft excluders (I made a snake draft excluder out of an old scarf) and so many of the visitors nowadays that come into the house, comment on how cosy and warm it is, of course we always have the coal fires going for the visitors in winter, and my missus has a good supply of jumpers.
The garden was completely overgrown so again we got stuck into that and cut it back as those quick growing tree’s had taken root all over the place. There were bushes all over the place, and the lawn was just one big weed. I dug up the whole lawn, hired a petrol driven rotavator (that nearly drove off with me in its wake, I thought I was going to end up down the gradient at the edge of the site and end up in the river) but I managed in the end to bring it back under control!
Fred left a marvellous Victorian long handled tree branch lopper, its quite heavy as its wooden but it does the job, also the Swan Mill chimney stones that Fred laid in the centre of the garden have been added to by myself as a lot of the original ones were broken or missing.
We hope you enjoy your stay on this newly designed website which has been designed and donated by Jonathon Wild, Campaign Director of Maelstrom who are a massive Fred fan! Click their logo for their portfolio:
Right from the start it was our intention to turn this amazing place into a Heritage Centre in memory and celebration of Fred. This was Fred’s dream and we are immensely proud that we have managed to accomplish exactly that. When we first came here, the site had been empty for four years. There was a lot of hard work to do before we could actually move in, but we got stuck in and put a lot of hours in turning it back into a home once again. When we were cleaning the house up and getting rid of four years of dust, the boiler wasn’t working because the pilot light had gone out. It was November and it was bitterly cold, we were having to boil the kettle for hot water to clean, and there was of course no heating. Sanding and painting in the cold is not much fun. Have you ever tried to get a Rayburn service engineer out in winter? They are like rocking horse poo, very rare, and the only one that we managed to speak to said they could not come to service the boiler for 6 weeks, so we booked it and battled on! Then we managed to get a local plumber to get the pilot light on so we at last had some hot water and heating.
Once I had turned the complete garden over I reseeded it (I love to see the new baby grass roots coming up for the first time, beautiful) at first the birds were nicking all the seeds, so I put nets over the lawn and a scarecrow dressed in Fred’s sheepskin jacket, that saw them off. Eventually we had a brand new lawn which I have nurtured and ever since.