FANS of Fred Dibnah have the opportunity of owning his former home for just £10. Neil Brandwood reports.

LEON Powsney, the owner of legendary Bolton steeplejack Fred Dibnah’s home, has decided to sell-up. But, instead of simply putting the property on the housing market, he has launched a ‘spot-the-ball’ contest with the Victorian detached property as the prize!

“It’s a magical place, it’s got a wonderful atmosphere and I’ve loved being here but I’m 71 now and I’m ready for a rest,” said Mr Powsney.

The house dates back to 1854 and has a market value of £450,000. It was originally the gatehouse to the woods at the rear, which belonged to the Earl of Bradford’s estate.

Mr Powsney and his wife Jan bought the property in 2008 for £185,000 and spent thousands creating the Fred Dibnah Heritage Centre, dedicated to Fred’s love of steam.

It opened its doors in 2010, six years after the historian’s death, giving visitors the chance to see the home, the garden and all of Fred’s tools and machinery.

Sadly, the centre was closed for good last winter and Mr Powsney held an auction of Fred’s machinery and tools, earlier this year.

“I couldn’t sell the centre as a going concern – it was a big responsibility - but a lot of people told me they’d love to live here but couldn’t afford it . That’s when I thought of the idea of running a competition,” said Mr Powsney.

“Hopefully, I’ll get my price for it and it will give people the chance to own a home with no mortgage.”

The competition costs £10 per entry and entrants need to fill in a registration form online. Whoever marks closest to the ball wins.

The maximum number of paid entries is 55,000, but if a minimum of 50,000 entries do not come in by the April closing date, the prize will be two thirds of all money raised. In the event of multiple winners, one single winner would be drawn.

Mr Powsney said: “Fred lived here for 40 years and I’ve kept the house as he had it. I wanted visitors to see how and where Fred lived. They loved it.”

The property, on Radcliffe Road, boasts three bedrooms, a bathroom, lounge, and large kitchen.

The dining room was turned into a “snug” - complete with bar - to accommodate the many coachloads of visitors who came to the heritage centre.

“Fred did all the beams and installed two fire ranges, an Aga and plaster ornamentation. He even designed fragments of the stained glass windows at the front which include images of steam rollers and tools,” explained Mr Powsney.

“The fittings include bits and bobs he scavenged from mills, and there’s a mini-drawbridge to a secret storage room that Fred constructed over the stairs.

“The main thing is its history. It’s a house with a lot of character and people are just as interested in the outside as they are in the inside. It’s a lovely house.” The rear of the property overlooks woods and Fred’s final resting place of Tonge Moor Cemetery.

“The area, a third of an acre in size, includes Fred’s huge workshop and engine shed, which can comfortably seat 70, an iconic chimney that Fred built and a 20ft mineshaft! He built it because he wanted to show people how the mines worked. He planned to build a rail track to go with it, but he couldn’t get permission,”

Ironically, Mr Powsney did not even know who Fred was when he bought the house. But his interest grew, which was why he established the heritage centre.

“I’ll be very, very emotional when I finally leave. I’ll probably blubber because I really do have an affection and an affinity with the place,” said Mr Powsney, who hopes to retire to Spain.

“I’m going to open it up between 10am and noon on January 12 so people can have a last look round.”

Mr Powsney intends to donate a third of the ticket proceeds. 

To enter the competition visit