I was very pleased to hear from Leon recently, who is the driving force behind the project to create a Heritage Centre at the late, great man’s house in Bolton.
Their intention is to turn the site back to how it would have been during its heyday when Fred was alive. After 4 years of being unoccupied while Fred’s will was executed apparently the house was in a poor state and it has taken a lot of work to get it up to standard.
Of course apart from the extensive steam-powered workshop in the back yard, complete with replica coal mine, the house itself is also an architectural wonder. Originally built in 1854, this was the gatehouse for the estate owned by the Earl of Bradford. Rumour has it that it was built purely as a ‘folly’. It appears from the front to be a little one floor cottage; however it is quite deceiving because it is of subterranean structure meaning that there’s a lower floor below ground level, which is level with the ground at the rear, leading to the gardens and yard. Its a grade 2 Listed Building, with a blue plaque on the wall outside.
Leon and his wife’s ultimate aim is to make this wonderful place into a Heritage Centre, where people of all ages can come and see how Fred worked. It really would be a tragedy if the history that Fred strived to create was lost for future generations. But they don’t want it to just be a museum, they want people to see it working, actually being used to make things, and do what it was designed to do.
I applaud their aims wholeheartedly, as someone who is a fan of not only Fred, but his values and what he represented. Industrial Heritage should be seen in operation, working. Especially with machinery like steam Engines – only when they are working can you appreciate the sounds, the smells, the atmosphere.
I will be featuring more about the campaign to establish and develop the Fred Dibnah Heritage Centre, but for now take a look at their website!