Of Steam & Spire

D’ya like that? – Fred Dibnah, steeplejack: after a BBC documentary in the late 70’s he became the face and voice of a fading British hands-on industrial past. A lofty career starting in the repair of, and later felling, the chimneys of the Lancashire cotton mills. His interests broadened to the technology of Victorian steam power, both for machining and traction. It would come to no surprise then that one of his first modes of transport was a 1927 350cc AJS motorcycle that he purchased for 21 guineas. One of his first major jobs was to gild the weather vanes on Bolton parish church. He later claimed that he only got it because he turned up to give an estimate on this motorcycle, to which the vicar took a shine. Behind him is his beloved steamroller ‘Betsy’ named after his mother. He received an MBE from The Queen in 2003 just before he died.

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