Fred Dibnah, a long time steam enthusiast, presents the history of steam power in Britain from the early beam engines up to modern steam turbines used in electrical power generation.
Runtime: 30 minutes
Fred Dibnah's Age of Steam - Fred Dibnah - Netflix
Frederick Dibnah, (29 April 1938 – 6 November 2004) was an English steeplejack and television personality, with a keen interest in mechanical engineering. When Dibnah was born, Britain relied heavily upon coal to fuel its industry. As a child he was fascinated by the steam engines which powered the many textile mills in Bolton, but he paid particular attention to chimneys and the men who worked on them. He began his working life as a joiner, before becoming a steeplejack. From age 22, he served for two years in the armed forces, as part of his National Service. Once demobilised, he returned to steeplejacking but met with limited success until he was asked to repair Bolton's parish church. The resulting publicity provided a welcome boost to his business, ensuring he was almost never out of work. In 1978, while making repairs to Bolton Town Hall, Dibnah was filmed by a regional BBC news crew. The BBC then commissioned an award-winning documentary, which followed the rough-hewn steeplejack as he worked on chimneys, interacted with his family and talked about his favourite hobby—steam. His Lancastrian manner and gentle, self-taught philosophical outlook, proved popular with viewers and he featured in a number of television programmes. Toward the end of his life, the decline of Britain's industry was mirrored by a decline in his steeplejacking business and Dibnah increasingly came to rely on after-dinner speaking for his income. In 1998, he presented a programme on Britain's industrial history and went on to present a number of series, largely concerned with the Industrial Revolution and its mechanical and architectural legacy. He died from cancer in November 2004, aged 66. He is survived by his five children from his first two marriages.
Fred Dibnah's Age of Steam - Childhood - Netflix
Fred Dibnah was the son of Frank and Betsy Dibnah (née Travis), who were initially both employed at a bleach works. His mother later worked as a charwoman at a gas works. Named after his uncle Frederick, he was born on 29 April 1938 and brought up in the historic Lancashire town of Bolton, then a predominantly industrial town with a history in the spinning and weaving of cotton. As a child, Dibnah was fascinated by the sights and sounds of industry and the dozens of chimney stacks visible around Burnden Park, and paid particular attention to the steeplejacks he saw on his way to school. A popular pastime for local children was playing around the many mill lodges (industrial ponds) which once littered the area. An inventive child, Dibnah and some friends designed a makeshift diving suit from a crisp tin, a car inner tube and some piping. After being told to remove it from the local swimming baths, they tested it in one of the lodges, but were unsuccessful. The Bolton arm of the Manchester Bolton & Bury Canal was one of Dibnah's regular haunts. The canal was by then largely disused (the Bolton arm had been mostly closed in 1924) and Dibnah sometimes dredged it with an iron hook on a rope, for what he called 'plunder'. Much of this was stored in the back yard of his mother's house. Dibnah and his friend Alan Heap built a canoe from old bicycle wheels (cut in half to make the ribs), slate laths and a canvas sheet from the back of a lorry. Much to the consternation of his mother, Dibnah sailed the boat along the nearby River Croal. He once astonished his teachers when, following the theft of the school keys, he cut new keys for each classroom door.
Fred Dibnah's Age of Steam - References - Netflix