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Riber Castle

Riber Castle



Riber Castle is another of Derbyshire's impressively situated follies. It stands high above Matlock Bath on the edge of the Derbyshire Peak District.

The drive up to Riber Castle is not for the faint-hearted, but its black silhouette on the hill is a draw hard to resist. Riber Castle was constructed around 1862-1868 by John Smedley. He was a local industrialist, famed for the good care he took of his workers. His initial plan was to build a 225 foot tower here, but he abandoned this plan when he found the telescopes he intended to order for the tower wouldn't fit into it.

Riber Castle cost Smedley £60,000 but he died six years after its construction. The Castle later became a school but by the 1930s was a derelict shell. The castle remained derelict for many years until, in the 1960s, a group of zoologists set up a Nature Reserve for British and European Fauna.


"Riber Zoo", as it was known, eventually closed due to much criticism of the conditions of the animals it was housing in September 2000.

Cross Tower Ventures purchased Riber Castle in 2000 with proposals to develop the site for residential purposes. After five years of ferocious arguement permission was finally granted in March 2006 by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister.

The redevelopment of the site comprises three main elements:

* the conversion of the former mansion into 26 apartments
* the conversion of outbuildings in the service courtyard and the reconstruction of a gatehouse to provide 10 dwellings and
* the erection of 10 new dwellings within or immediately adjacent to the Castle grounds.

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