Tag Archives: industrial history

Sponsor a Brick at the Fred Dibnah Heritage Centre

Back in 1999, the late Fred Dibnah applied for planning permission to turn his famous Bolton house into a heritage centre, but was refused. It was one of Fred’s last wishes, and a new campaign has been launched to help make it a reality. Planning consent has been granted for Fred’s former home to be transformed into a Heritage Centre. But to meet all of the legal requirements for a visitor attraction, such as toilets and disabled access, there is a lot of work ahead.

To raise funds a ‘Sponsor a brick’ campaign has been launched. By sponsoring a brick with donation of £10 you will get a free entry into a Spot the Ball competition if you are in the UK, and the lucky winner will get £7,500 Cash, with a runner-up prize of £2,500. The third prize is a half days Land Rover experience (care of land Rover UK) for 3 people. There are also 10 other runner up mystery prizes.

Not only will the campaign be raising funds towards building the Fred Dibnah Heritage Centre, but 25p from every Brick sponsored will go towards Cancer Research. This is very fitting, as Fred himself was a victim of cancer.

The Heritage Centre is also keen to hear from companies who may be interested in sponsoring the main workshop. It would be fantastic publicity for an engineering firm!

Project Manager Phil outlined work to be done:

“To just give you some idea of what is required before we can open the site to the public, the council insist that we put toilet facilities in place, these must include Disabled toilets; then we have to securely fence the perimeter to prevent people falling down the 70 feet to the river, we have to put safety rails around the exhibits, machines etc. we have to totally resurface the outside pedestrian areas and as we may at some time want to bring vehicles in this surface has to be to highway standards, and disabled friendly, the inside floor of Freds main workshop is old railway sleepers, for health & safety reasons a part of this (a walkway) has got to be covered with smooth non slip surface wherever the public may set foot, we have got several estimates in for this work which amount to £267,000. and that is just to satisfy the council. We also have to re-roof the small workshop, and the rear half of the main workshop, and we want to make this a pleasurable experience for the visitors so we want to provide pleasant seating areas which due to our wonderful climate need to be covered, and somewhere for the visitor to get a drink and a sandwich, which then requires a catering kitchen. So as you can see we need to raise something like £500,000 before we start on fettling the boilers and all of Freds fantastic machinery”

To Sponsor a Brick, or to find out more, visit the Fred Dibnah Heritage Centre website


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Filed under Industrial Revolution

The Fred Dibnah Heritage Centre

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!

The Fred Dibnah Heritage Centre


Filed under Industrial Revolution, Museums