Fred Dibnah’s Vintage Steam Engine Sold At Auction

A VINTAGE steam engine once owned by television icon Fred Dibnah sold for �240,000 at an auction held in Sutton on Saturday. The 1912 Aveling and Porter machine, which attracted widespread interest at the packed auction, was bought by Cheshire businessman Michael Oliver for more than twice the auctioneer’s estimated price.

A VINTAGE steam engine once owned by television icon Fred Dibnah sold for �240,000 at an auction held in Sutton on Saturday.

The 1912 Aveling and Porter machine, which attracted widespread interest at the packed auction, was bought by Cheshire businessman Michael Oliver for more than twice the auctioneer’s estimated price.

The famous steeplejack and engineer spent almost 25 years restoring the vintage machine and it was even used to pull his coffin through the city of Bolton following his death in 2004.

Dibnah rose to fame in 1978 after starring in a documentary about his life and work as a steeplejack in Bolton and he continued to appear in television series over the next two decades. He was awarded an MBE for services to heritage in July 2004.


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Dibnah bought the engine, which was built in 1912 and counts Devonshire County Council among its former owners, in 1979 and completed it just before his death six years ago.

It is understood that the engine’s new owner Mr Oliver, has offerred Fred’s son Jack the opportunity to drive the engine and it is intended that the engine will appear at steam shows across the UK.

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Bill King director of Cambridge based auctioneers Cheffins, said: ‘Whilst the price achieved for this engine far exceeded our pre- sale expectations, it is testament to Fred and his skill and knowledge of traditional engineering and of course his big personality that we received so much interest”.

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