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Castle History

Friends Forward Plan


Mr Frank Leeming

We are pleased to be able to include the recollections of Mr Frank Leeming of his days spent working in the Ranger Service at Elvaston Castle. Our (Lady) Administration Officer, who edits most of our ever growing postbag said the following about this item;

"Here is Frank's piece - I liked it as it comes from the heart, I can hear his voice when I read it."

Now, read it for yourself!

My earliest recollection of Elvaston Castle is standing in one of the stable doorways watching the gentry partaking of the stirrup cup, prior to riding out on the hunt. This would be the mid 1930's. Years later, 1973 to 1978, I had the privilege of working here as a Derbyshire County Council Countryside Ranger.

Before my service at the castle started, rain water was running down the inside of the walls in the upper levels and seeping into the ceilings and walls of the rooms below. It was still leaking when I left the service in 1978. Although it was reported on a regular level to the planning office at Matlock, nothing was done to stop it and I am witness to this fact. The Planning Office was the department in charge of Elvaston Castle during my time there.

The Victorian ladies Promenade on the top level was also ignored, falling into disrepair, leaks, rust and pigeon mess. Most of the rooms in the top level were left in a state of disrepair and a deaf eye and a blind ear ruled the day.

The outbuildings were put to good use as a Heritage Display and was enjoyed by thousands of children and adults. It's a pity that they did not put the same enthusiasm into the castle. Unfortunately these were also run down and then closed.

It is my considered opinion that even before my time there, they had a plan to sell the castle. However, try they did whilst I was there, but a movement was organised to oppose this sale and I was part of it. We were successful. The plan was shelved, waiting for a better time to bring it out again.

Now they are at it again and their website proposal is a masterpiece of PR. Glossy, full of promises and a glowing picture of the general public enjoying the benevolence they will provide for them. It is nothing more than cheese in the trap and when you tap it, it rings loud and clear like an empty drum.

Elvaston Castle was this country's first country  park, and here in the south of the county we had something to be proud of. To hold and to cherish. It belongs to the people and we will not give it up or give it away for developers and their friends to rape and plunder it's treasures.

They were given this land by their friends in the Derby City Council for a pittance, less than 5, what they call 'a token' and they have abused it ever since. The greed in their eye tells you that this is more valuable than the Crown Jewels and when you and I are long dead and gone, no matter what they say and promise now, it will be priceless building land for them that hold it.

What we have here is an 'Aladdin's Cave' and we know who the robbers are, but who will come to the rescue?

Yours sincerely,

Councillor Frank Leeming, Independent

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