Fred Dibnah's Magnificent Monuments - Netflix

Posted on Sat 04 May 2019 in netflix

Documentary series which sees Fred Dibnah touring Britain's great building feats.

Fred Dibnah's Magnificent Monuments - Netflix

Type: Documentary

Languages: English

Status: Ended

Runtime: 30 minutes

Premier: 2000-02-17

Fred Dibnah's Magnificent Monuments - 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 Magnificent Monuments - Fred Dibnah's Made in Britain - Netflix

In December 2003, his traction engine was now in working order and planning for the new series commenced. Dibnah's illness necessitated that he sleep in hotels, rather than the living van the engine would tow during the trip. For the long distances between locations, the engine would be transported on the back of a low loader. Dibnah's engine suffered early mechanical problems; it could barely tow the fully loaded living van uphill, as the cylinder had been placed very slightly closer to the footplate than it should have been. As a result of this, every time the piston was fully forward it covered the steam inlet port. The engine was repaired, and with some minor engineering work to one of the pistons was brought up to full power. The team was joined by Dibnah's sons, Jack and Roger. The production crew made every effort to reduce Dibnah's workload. Changes were made to the filming schedule, to allow Dibnah more time to rest at home between filming days. The crew visited the Forth Road Bridge and Dibnah became the first man to drive a traction engine under its own steam across the bridge. Such pleasures provided a welcome distraction for Dibnah, who was by then ill and in pain. By the end of June he was so ill he could not continue filming. He was sent home to rest and given medication to alleviate his condition, so that he could collect his MBE.

Despite Dibnah's best efforts, planning permission was refused. Although he appealed against the decision, a new series diverted his attention. At the end of 2003 production began for Fred Dibnah's Made in Britain. With his friend, Alf Molyneux, Dibnah would tour the country on his completed traction engine, visiting the workshops that still could produce the parts needed for his antique vehicle. His engine, however, was not yet complete and Dibnah's medical diagnosis was not good: he knew he had only a short time to live. His traction engine developed a serious fault, but with the help of friends it was quickly repaired and its restoration completed.

Fred Dibnah's Magnificent Monuments - References - Netflix