When animals were king at Riber Castle

NMAM Mem Lane April 5
NMAM Mem Lane April 5

HERE is a picture plucked from Riber Castle’s colourful past when the 19th century iconic structure was a wildlife park.

The grade II-listed country house which overlooks Matlock opened as an animal attraction in 1960 and attracted thousands of visitors until it closed in September 2000.

The animal and fauna reserve was eventually sold by the owner, but there was little interest in buyers taking it over as a park.

The park was not without its critics with claims of cruelty, which sparked fury among animal activists, who famously released several lynx cats from their cages in the surrounding area. This led to sightings of the so-called “Beast of Lumsdale”.

This photograph was taken in June 1973 and shows a raccoon in his cage.

Plans to turn the shell of the castle into apartments was given consent in March 2006, but as of yet there is still no sign of completion and the castle remains fenced off to the public.

The picturesque building was built in 1862 by John Smedley.

In recent years, it was a key location in the Shane Meadows’ disturbing movie, Dead Man’s Shoes.