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Fred Dibnah’s Buildings of Britain

by David Hall

      Fred Dibnah, steeplejack and erstwhile TV personality was fascinated by the way in which great buildings of the past were built.  In this book he takes the reader on a tour of the buildings of Britain, talking about their construction and illustrating his descriptions with some of his own drawings.

Fred could be described as a "national treasure" and made over forty TV shows, from his debut in the 80s until his recent death.  I realize that perhaps he is not an international treasure, but anybody interested in how some of the great edifices of the past were constructed is sure to enjoy this book.  It is very accessible; Fred was a steeplejack not an architect or a historian, and an ordinary man first and foremost, so you can expect some easy to follow descriptions.  The diagrams are excellent, and help to illustrate what he is talking about very effectively.  There are lots of photographs so you can see what the buildings look like, and his journey through British architecture takes us from prehistory to today.  There are also lots of pictures of Fred himself which might not interest readers from outside the UK but anybody who wants to understand more about these amazing feats of engineering will enjoy reading his down-to-earth text.  A good introduction to a difficult subject.

The Book

Bantam Press (Transworld UK)
October 2008
0593061713 / 9780593061718
Nonfiction / Architecture / Britain
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The Reviewer

Rachel A Hyde
Reviewed 2008
© 2008