THE family of late TV steeplejack Fred Dibnah say they hope the “reluctant”

sale of one of his engines will bring final closure to a long-running row over his estate.

Mr Dibnah left the majority of his reported £1 million fortune to be divided between his five children, Jayne, Lorna, Caroline, Jack and Roger, from his first two marriages.

The engine which is going under the hammer next month in Cambridgeshire, an Aveling and Porter steam tractor, was specifically gifted to Jack and Roger.

But due to an ongoing dispute with Mr Dibnah’s widow, Sheila, whom he married in 1998, the will — which was read in 2007 — has still not been settled.

Mr Dibnah cut the former Blackpool showgirl out of his will just weeks before he died in November, 2004.

In a statement released to The Bolton News, Mr Dibnah’s family said: “The settling of the estate’s affairs has been an extremely protracted process and unfortunately, for many reasons, its financial expectations have not been realised.

“The executor, and the five children as the beneficiaries, have therefore had to reluctantly agree to place the tractor for sale, in order to finance the final winding up costs of the estate and fund the settlement of a claim made by Sheila Dibnah under the terms of the Inheritance Act.

“Whilst not being the outcome that either they or their father would have wanted, the five children hope that the sale will prove successful and bring a final closure to what has been a very difficult period in their lives.”

Mrs Dibnah, who tours the country speaking about her late husband’s work, said she was “delighted” that the saga was coming to a close.

She said: “It has been hell for everybody but I am delighted that it is coming to an end.

“I think everyone is fed up of the back-stabbing and all the other business that has gone on.

“I didn’t want Fred to be remembered as a man who cut his wife out of his will because that wasn’t the Fred I knew. He was very poorly and made a rash decision.”

Mrs Dibnah also backed a campaign by Leon Powsney, who has turned the couple’s former Radcliffe Road house into a heritage centre, to bring the engine home.

The engine will be auctioned at Cheffins in Sutton, Cambridgeshire, on July 24, with a guide price of £110,000 to £130,000.