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Fred Dibnah

English steeplejack and television personality, with a keen interest in mechanical engineering
Statue of Fred Dibnah

Fred Dibnah MBE (28 April 19386 November 2004), born in Bolton, Lancashire, was an English steeplejack, engineer and eccentric who became a television personality, a cult figure and, latterly, a national institution.


  • "Did yer like that!?"
  • " Mmmm. Aye. Oh aye. Y'know?"
  • "A man who says he feels no fear is either a fool or a liar."
  • "I realise that steam engines aren't everyone's cup of tea. But they're what made England great."
  • "The modern world stinks."
  • "We've become a nation of con men, living by selling double glazing to each other."
  • "Steam engines don't answer back. You can belt them with a hammer and they say nowt."
  • "I set out as a steeplejack in my youth to preserve chimneys. I've finished by knocking most of them down."
  • "Height gives you a wonderful feeling of grandeur. You're the king of the castle up here."
  • "I have a wash more now than I used to y'know... I have a shower everynight."
  • "I'm just a bum who climbs chimneys."
  • "Anybody who destroys anything made of stone should be prosecuted. It is not all beautiful, but it took a man all day to make one stone."
  • "Steeplejacking's a bit of a spasmodic job, so you can play with your steam engine instead. It's a bit like being very rich."
  • "If you make one mistake, it's half a day out with the undertaker."
  • "It's a funny thing this celebrity. If you don't wave back you're a miserable bugger, if you do wave back you're a big-headed bugger. I don't know."
  • "The thing is nowadays, you'll have 20 men working, yet 60 men telling them 'You can't do that, you ain't got a tin hat on'".
  • "Teaching boys to bake cakes? That's no way to maintain an industrial empire."
  • "By 'eck it were grand."
  • "Them fancy London types don't know the pleasure of eating chips with fingers"
  • "That's Bolton's biggest chimney that... and I climbed it for a ten bob wager. Never did get the ten bob though."
  • Fred also previously received two honorary doctorates ..... They were both given by the relevant engineering faculties, but Fred always told people that they were for "back street mechanicing".
  • "I've never fell off a big chimney. You'd only fall off one of them once."
  • (Whilst demonstrating how to ladder a chimney) "As you get a bit higher up, the holes have a tendency to get a bit deeper; I think it's called fear"
  • (About Hard Hats) "These tin hats get in the way a bit" "I shouldn't think for the life of me that if the whole thing came down it'd stop you getting a shorter neck"

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