Building of Britain (BBC)

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History Documentary hosted by Fred Dibnah, published by BBC in 2002 - English narration

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Image: Building-of-Britain-BBC-Cover.jpg

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Fred Dibnah travels across Britain to uncover the craft and engineering skills that form the nation's architectural heritage.

[edit] Mighty Cathedrals

Fred takes a look at the 11th-century building programme undertaken by the Normans which resulted in mighty fortress cathedrals like Ely and Peterborough. At Peterborough Cathedral, Fred reveals the secret weapon the Norman builders had at their disposal - the stone arch - and demonstrates just how the early stonemasons constructed them. At Ely, Fred climbs high up inside the building to examine the alterations and additions made by later builders. Inspecting this construction masterpiece sees Fred scaling rooftop ladders to examine the incredible octagonal lantern built in the 14th century, an amazing feat of early engineering. Fred also has the lowdown on exactly how this feat was accomplished. Fred's final destination is Rochester, this time to examine a Norman castle rather than a cathedral. Here, he demonstrates how the tactics used all those centuries ago by attackers to try and destroy tall towers bear a startling resemblance to the way he used to pull down tall buildings.

[edit] The Art of Castle Building

Fred investigates one of the greatest feats of royal engineering - the constuction of the great chain of castles on the coast of north Wales. Travelling to Harlech, Caernarfon and Beaumaris, Fred reveals the building techniques and revolutionary defensive features that helped Edward I subdue the rebellious Welsh. Fred also charts the achievements of the king's architect Master James of St Georges, a Frenchman who revolutionised castle design in England.

[edit] The Age of the Carpenter

Fred looks to the Middle Ages and the transformation of an Englishman's castle into his home. Carpenters were the great engineers of this time, and Fred visits Stokesey Castle, the oldest moated and fortified house in England, to scale the walls and examine the technique of 'jettying' - making the bedroom a bit bigger. Fred also discovers how massive arched timber roofs were constructed. At Little Moreton Hall in Cheshire, Fred explores one of the finest examples of timber-framed architecture in England and demonstrates how carpenters of the 15th and 16th century actually constructed these chocolate-box buildings. Fred's journey ends at Harvington Hall near Kidderminster, home to some of finest priest holes in the country, devised by master carpenter Nicholas Owen during the reign of Elizabeth I.

[edit] Scottish Style

Fred travels to Scotland to demonstrate the engineering and design skills that shaped Scottish baronial style. At Glamis Castle, Fred demonstrates how a simple sandstone tower house was transformed 400 years ago into a great house with more than a passing resemblance to a fairy-tale castle, with the help of stonemasons from Aberdeen and plasterers from Italy. The House of Dun near Montrose is one of the finest country houses to be designed by William Adam, and Fred gets stuck into some ornamental plasterwork at a specialist manufacturer's. But it was Adam's son Robert who made such an impact on house building that he had an architectural style named after him, and to demonstrate his achievement Fred travels to Culzean Castle on the Ayrshire coast.

[edit] Building the Canals

Fred travels close to his home town of Bolton, where the mid-18th century saw the building of the first canals and the arrival of the first civil engineers. He travels to Worsley in Lancashire to see where it all started - the labyrinth of 52 miles of underground waterways that carried coal from the Duke of Bridgewater's mines to the canal. Back in his garden, he shows us how the early canal engineers actually went about digging the cut for a canal and making it watertight. He takes a canal boat on the 127-mile-long Leeds-Liverpool Canal, and demonstrates the back-breaking labour and enginering skills that went into building the tunnel that takes it under the highest point on his route.

[edit] Victorian Splendour

Fred indulges his personal passion for the achievements of the builders of the 19th century. At Eastnor Castle in Herefordshire, a young architect called Robert Smirke was commissioned to build a grand house that was as big and impressive as a great medieval castle. As Fred demonstrates, steam-powered machinery made this possible in a fraction of the time - if not the cost - involved originally. Eastnor also provides an introduction to the work of architect and designer Augustus Welby Pugin, who was inspired by medieval Gothic architecture. At St Giles in Cheadle, Staffordshire, Fred examines one of Pugin's best Gothic works, achieved thanks to one of the finest teams of craftsmen that have ever been seen in the building of Britain. The building with which Pugin is most commonly associated is the Palace of Westminster, where he worked alongside fellow architect Sir Charles Barry. Fred reveals how the two men came up with a building that matched the medieval Westminster Abbey next door, as well as demonstrating how the builders overcame the challenges posed by the riverbank location. Fred's final stop on this epic journey sees him scaling the heights again, this time inside the Westminster clock tower - the one we call Big Ben - where he reveals what makes the country's best-known clock tick to time and how the huge bell was originally constructed.

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[edit] Technical Specs

  • Video Codec: x264 CABAC High@L3.1
  • Video Bitrate: CRF 20
  • Video Resolution: 1024x576
  • Video Aspect Ratio: 16:9
  • Frame Rate: 25 FPS
  • Audio Codec: AAC-LC
  • Audio Bitrate: Q=0.45 ABR 48KHz (~128Kbps)
  • Audio Channels: 2
  • Run-Time: 29 mins
  • Number Of Parts: 6
  • Part Size: 480 MB (average)
  • Source: HDTV (upscaled)
  • Encoded by: JungleBoy

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