Fred Dibnah's former home up for sale for £1.25m
11:00am Friday 28th September 2012 in News
FRED Dibnah’s old home is up for sale — with a £1.25 million price tag.
Fred lived in the Radcliffe Road property until his death in 2004 and it is full of his collection of industrial artefacts.
The grade II house, which was originally built in 1854, was a gatehouse for the Earl of Bradford’s estate, and now also includes a refurbished vintage lineshaft used to power Fred’s equipment.
Leon Powsney bought the home in 2009 for £180,000 and spent 12 months transforming it into a heritage centre, which opened to the public in 2010.
It was awarded charitable status last year, and The Fred Dibnah Heritage Centre Charity Trust will continue regardless of the sale.
Mr Powsney said yesterday: ”The business, the property and the whole site is up for sale.
“If it is sold it will be on condition that it remains as a heritage centre.
“We have done all the hard work with a small team of volunteers.
“I have tried to organise public ownership of the site via the trust but it just didn’t get the massive support we would have needed. Although we did have a strong core of true enthusiasts, we needed lots more.”
Mr Powsney, who received a letter of praise from Prince Charles for his work, said Fred’s house is a major Bolton tourist attraction, with nearly 50 coach parties from all over the UK booked in to visit the house this year.
The first coach party with 49 steam enthusiasts came from Doncaster-based Steam4 Fun.com — the world’s only supplier of miniature, working Fred Dibnah model engines.
Mr Powsney said he would like the business to move “to the next level”, but that he and his wife are too old to take the challenge any further.
He said: “I’m now aged 65 and my wife, Jeanette, is not so well.
“We also want a home of our own and some privacy — this will always be Fred’s home.
“It’s an exciting time and I’d like to help the new owner in some way.
“However, the last few years have been very hard work for us. We need a break.”
The centre has permission to hold tours twice per day on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, but currently holds only one tour per day.
To fund some of the work, Mr Powsney offered people the chance to sponsor cobblestones to raise money for future improvements at £125 per cobble, as well as selling Fred’s old screws and rivets.
Mr Powsney said: “People have also donated money to the trust and that remains alongside the business.
“There is now a plaque for every sponsored cobble which will remain there as long as the museum exists.”
The sale is being organised by Intelligent Business Transfer in Leeds.
Spokesman Sam Roser said: “Its value has risen five-fold, which is almost unheard of in the current economic climate.
“The fact that this is being offered to the market is a great rarity and is something that is unique, locally and nationally.
“It is extremely scarce that anything of this stature is offered to the public and I am sure that it will be hugely evocative to many people.”