THE owner of the Fred Dibnah Heritage Centre has announced that it will close for good.

The centre, based at the steam enthusiast's former home in Radcliffe Road, will shut its doors in the winter. 

And owner Leon Powsney will auction off the contents, including Fred's machinery and tools, early next year.

Mr Powsney, who lives in the home, said running the museum had been a 'fantastic journey' but said it had been at a great personal cost.

The 70-year-old said: "It is with mixed feelings of regret and relief that I am announcing that the Fred Dibnah Heritage Centre is closing down this winter and will not be re-opening. In other words this is the end of the Fred Dibnah Heritage centre.

"This has been a fantastic journey for me and one that I will treasure for years to come, it has been a privilege knowing that the heritage centre has brought pleasure to many thousands of people from all around the UK and to many visitors from around the globe, including the USA, Canada, Australia, Holland, Germany, Belgium, New Zealand, all of whom would not have had the pleasure of visiting their hero's home otherwise.

"For personal reasons that I will not go into at this time I have decided that it is time for me to take a long awaited and well earned break."

Fred Dibnah - the ordinary man who made himself extraordinary

Mr Powsney and his wife Jan bought the 155-year-old home and the heritage centre in 2008 for £185,000 and spent thousands creating the 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.

17 facts you didn't know about Fred Dibnah

As well as tours of the centre and the house — offering paying visitors the opportunity to have a cup of tea in Fred's kitchen — he even provided a self-catering bedroom for visitors from further afield.

The house and heritage centre had been put up for sale last year for £650,000 but a buyer could not be found.

He said: "I have brought Fred's home and workplace back to life over the last eight years from virtual dereliction into a successful and very popular visitor attraction, dedicated to the memory of a great man.

"I have tried so hard to find a buyer to carry the centre on into the future but unfortunately this has not been possible, having tried absolutely everything possible at great cost to myself mentally, physically and financially.

"Opening the heritage centre was a massive risk for me personally and financially, and I now having turned age 70 this year I need to get back to some form of normality so my wife and I can enjoy what years we have left in peace.

"As I have not been able to find a buyer to carry on the heritage centre I am left with no other option than to close down and sell everything (and I mean EVERYTHING) off.

The Bolton News:

Fred Dibnah in 2002

5 pictures of Fred Dibnah in his youth

"We will be holding an auction in the new year so if you would like to own a genuine piece of Fred's history/memorabilia or even one of his machines, or tools, or spanners, please email us at to register an interest. We will be organising an auction catalogue in the new year as well.

"If you have not visited the heritage centre then I would recommend you do so very soon as once we close the doors that will be it."