Friday, January 4, 2008

An English Hero

It can't be normal for a steeplejack from Lancashire to become an icon, but Fred Dibnah achieved that status.

From a chance appearance in a news item, to a documentary, to several TV series, Fred endeared himself to this quirky nation. He repaired and felled chimneys (without explosives), but he was also something of an amateur engineer. He built projects in his back garden, including a steam roller which he then took out on the road. He explained things in simple language to a nation entralled by his earthy charm.
Unlikely as it seems from looking at him, Fred was a womaniser. He had been made an MBE and was on his second marriage when he died in 2004, aged 66.

Members of my family who are fascinated by steam engines and related technology were great fans of Fred's. And I have to admit that his programmes were not uninteresting.

I'm including some footage of a younger Fred which I have not heard because Adobe seems to have killed the sound on my computer (it had better be temporary). I hope you can understand his acent!


SnarkAngel said...

He does have a certain "earthy" charm.

Gunga Dean said...

This so much reminds me of my dad. We went to the Smithsonian Institute about 35 years ago and my dad rounded a corner and stopped dead in his tracks 'cos there was a prototype tractor my dad and my grandfather had worked on; created; In a national museum in Washington, DC. We stayed in the room for a half hour or so where my dad explained to anyone who would listen that he built THIS. He also said that there was a slight problem that whenever they tested it, it's super charged wheels caused it to do a wheeley and then a backflip, but it looked stunning and fabulous, and HE BUILT THIS!


val said...

Wow, Dean, that's amazing, to have something in a museum. A proud moment in both your lives.

Was you grandad around to see or hear about it?

Gunga Dean said...

Oh yes. A jovial family discussion at my grandparents followed by a slideshow. All pretty wonderful.