Derby

Riber Castle: Empty Gothic castle turned into flats

Riber Castle Image copyright Riber Castle

A castle which has not been lived in for almost a century is being turned into flats.

Riber Castle dominates the skyline above Matlock in Derbyshire but nobody has lived there since the 1930s.

Image copyright Riber Castle

A zoo operated within the grounds until it closed in 2000.

The once derelict building features at the end of the Shane Meadow's film Dead Man's Shoes.

Image copyright Alamy
Image caption An illustration of Riber Castle taken from the Manual of Practical Hydrotherapy in the 1880s

The mock Gothic castle was constructed between 1862 and 1866 by John Smedley, an entrepreneur in nearby Matlock.

His family owned Lea Mills - close to Arkwright's ground-breaking Cromford Mills factory.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption In the 1960s, John Smedley became the official knitwear supplier to The Queen

It is believed to be the oldest working factory in the world.

The industrialist branched out into spas, building Smedley's Hydro - now home to Derbyshire County Council.

Image caption John Smedley made his money at the family factory and the hydrotherapy centre he built which is now Derbyshire County Hall

He built the castle overlooking Matlock and Matlock Bath as a family home to show off his wealth.

After he died, his wife continued to live in Riber Castle until her death in 1892 when it was bought by the Rev William Chipett, who converted it into a boarding school.

It has never been occupied since it closed in 1930 - although it was used as an emergency food store during World War Two.

Image copyright Riber Castle

Over the past 15 years, Cross Towers Ventures sought planning permission to convert it into flats.

Image copyright Riber Castle

Although the work is not yet complete, the development is now up for sale.