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Nerves of steel

We have been reminded of a series of videos documenting the work of legendary UK steeplejack Fred Dibnah.

Born in Bolton, Dibnah was a master steeplejack during the 1960/70/80/90s inspecting, maintaining and even demolishing large chimney towers. The videos below provide a fascinating insight to the techniques he used to scale these towers, using just a series of regular ladders, lashing them to ‘dog’ anchors. while a simple block and tackle is also used to raise each section of ladder into place, with Dibnah often working on chimneys of 60 metres or more. Interestingly the film crew can be seen working from an early truck mounted platform from EPL International. One has to wonder what Dibnah thought of them?
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Fred Dibnah with his ladders

Dibnah, who became a television personality is clearly a character with an incredible work ethic. He also must have had nerves of steel to erect these ladders, often balancing astride the top ladder with minimum safety systems in place – although Dibnah might argue otherwise!

One has to wonder how he would have coped with modern health & safety protocols? He would surely have appreciated some of the engineering and technology on the current crop of cranes and aerial work platforms.

In his own words: “One mistake up here and its half a day out with the undertaker!”

Sadly they don't make them like this anymore. Have a great weekend.


Harry Sharp
I remember in one of his programs he said prior to scaling a chimney he would drink a pint of beer to calm his nerves. What a guy.

Oct 31, 2021

Alan C
At the time EPL had the 3 biggest machines in the UK, 2 x 150' Moonshot's and the 170'Starshot, both were Calavar's. This was prior to PTP's Galaxy. The one used by the camera crew in the video was possibly the Moonshot running out of Heywood Depot. The BBC also did another programme with Fred at the Cambridge Pumping Station, the Starshot was used and they took Fred up in it, his comment was "Eeh! Ah don't like this b****y thing, rather be on me ladders!" Those were the days! I would also like to send my best wishes and kind regards to all my former EPL colleagues, it was simply the best company ever to work for!

Oct 31, 2021

They abound

Oct 30, 2021