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Heritage Windows – Riber Castle, Matlock

Riber Castle Matlock external timber windows and doors

Heritage Windows, Riber Castle Matlock

After standing windowless and almost derelict for over 40 years, this prestigious 19th Century Grade II Listed Building needed some very special Heritage Windows.

Heritage Windows, Matlock, Derbyshire

Design and manufacture of casement windows with highly bespoke system to deal with very high wind-loading pressures. Included thick timber sections with disguised moulded profiles, Neoprene gaskets, internal beading and extra-strength glazing tape. This project included a wide variety of shapes and sizes to meet the building dimensions.

What is Riber Castle?

Riber Castle is a 19th century Grade II listed country house overlooking Matlock, Derbyshire. It was built by local mill-owner John Smedley in 1862 as his private home. After the death of Smedley’s wife, the castle became a boys’ school until the 1930s. With the coming of WWII the Ministry of Defence used the site for storage. The MoD left following the war and the castle remained unused until the 1960s.

From the 1960s to September 2000 it was home to a wildlife park, until “Riber Zoo”, as it was known, was sold by the owner. The park was criticised for the treatment of the animals, and the closure was not without controversy. Activists even released several Lynxes which escaped into the wild, with regular sightings occurring in Matlock and Carsington to this day.

New Ownership, new vision

Ivan White, from Cross Tower Venture purchased Riber Castle and the grounds, and were planning a major redevelopment into luxury apartments. The castle had no roof or floors, let alone any windows. Not only that but it’s unique location and construction presented many challenges for all the contractors. Gowercrofts task of designing, building and fitting windows was especially difficult.

Heritage Windows with special Requirements

Due to it’s unique location and design, Riber Castle presented some difficult challenges in the design and manufacture of the new windows.

The location and the type of building presented other major challenges:

  1. The wind loading at the top of the hill would generate pressures of up to 500 pounds.
  2. The large windows, when fully glazed, weighed over 400kg or almost 1/2 a metric ton!
  3. The accessibility for external glazing is very difficult. Internal glazing with a full drained and vented system was required.
  4. Strict planning permission on the site expressed that windows should match the original 19th Century style. This included bespoke, slender mouldings and no mastic shown externally on the building.
The technical solution for windows in Listed Buildings

David Brown, Technical Director at Gowercroft Joinery, worked closely with Ivan to design a new interlocking beading system with an ingenious tapered tongue. This locks the beading into the sash, and can withstand the extreme wind loading. In the photo above, you can see five Gowercroft employees testing the strength of a trial unit – where the glass was secured only with our double-sided glazing tape; this is 700 pounds of sheer pressure. When backed up with our glazing bead system, these units will perform well for many years to come.

The challenge didn’t stop there. We also needed to get special gaskets and keeps to ensure that the windows were draught proof under the extreme conditions. Extra strength hinges were needed to carry the weight of the exceptional window size and the whole window had to be made to fit behind stone reveals inside the 4-foot thick castle walls.

To see Gowercroft Director, David Brown, explaining some of the complexity of the design process, please watch the video below.

Ivan White’s comments on working with Gowercroft Joinery:

Embraced our vision

From the start of the project, David Brown of Gowercroft embraced our vision and helped us design a product that met the local planning constraints with all the criteria of aesthetics and performance. Their traditional craftsmanship and use of innovative, modern materials delivered a product that worked. I would have no hesitation in recommending Gowercroft for all types of projects; their assistance with design is invaluable.

Ivan White - Riber Castle Project Director, Cross Tower Ventures Ltd.

Riber Castle Gallery
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