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this day in history 1983

Cat Halts Steeplejack

Of all my favourite celebrity steeplejacks, certainly one who makes the top ten is the legendary Fred Dibnah. If you were a TV viewer in the 1980s or 90s, it was hard to avoid Fred who was forever clambering up enormous industrial chimneys and plotting a way to bring them down again. He was the star of numerous television documentaries and at one point, unless this was some sort of wonderful fever dream, he travelled the country on a traction engine. But on this day in 1983, Fred made the news for other reasons. Or rather Fred didn’t make the news, but George did. Let me explain…

Fred was tasked with scaling and eventually demolishing the Wolfenden and Son chimney in Bolton. But he was prevented by the appearance of George, a ginger tomcat who beat him to it and climbed the 160 ft structure and refused to budge. “He’s stuck there with a glue and fear,” an increasingly frustrated Fred said, after all attempts to coax, starve and shift the cat failed. After 30 hours, an animal expert managed to grab the feline interloper and remove him to safety. From that day on, Fred Dibnah was not a cat person.

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