Museum in tribute to Fred 

Photo of bronze bust of Fred Dibnah

One of Bolton’s most famous sons will be immortalised in bronze at Bolton Museum, Aquarium and Archive.

A bust of the late steeplejack Fred Dibnah will take pride of place in the museum’s new local history gallery when it opens this autumn.

The statue has been created by artist Dr John Pilkington who lives in Worcestershire but was born and brought up in Bolton.

Dr Pilkington initially crafted a clay model of Fred, working from a series of photos taken at various stages of his life from the age of 45.

The artist then approached the museum who agreed to have the model cast in bronze with a view to making it a permanent attraction.

Dr Pilkington said: “Fred’s strength of personality, coupled with his ability to communicate his enthusiasm and knowledge of the industrial age - which was rapidly disappearing - gave Fred a national audience, which crossed all the usual regional barriers. In short, Fred put Bolton back on the map! 

“The making of a portrait bust cast in bronze would mean that Fred’s bust would undergo the industrial process of being poured in molten metal; something that Fred loved so much.”
Bolton Museum Aquarium and Archive closed its museum gallery for a major refurbishment project in January 2010.

The £530,000 project is part of the North West's Raising The Game programme that is raising the quality, ambition and profile of six leading museums and galleries to attract more tourists to the region.  

The new local history gallery will be divided into three sections, looking at industrialisation and the impact of the invention of the Spinning Mule; the subsequent developments in Bolton since the textile industry declined and the lives of Boltonians past and present.

When the gallery re-opens in October, the Fred Dibnah bust will go on public display for the first time.

Bolton Council’s Executive Member for Adult and Community Services, Councillor Elaine Sherrington, said: “Fred was such an iconic part of Bolton’s history and had such an impact on the town and its profile that we felt it was important he should be represented in the new gallery.

“We’re very excited about how the gallery will look once it is finished and hope people from far and wide will come and see what we have to offer in Bolton. The majority of items in the gallery have never been on display before and we have commissioned some exciting new attractions, including a “talking heads” display featuring anecdotes from Samuel Crompton and Richard Arkwright.”


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