The Town of Ripley
Ripley is a small town with a population of about 20,000, situated 11 miles north of Derby.
Standing on a hill at 520 feet above sea level, the focal point of the town is the Market Place, said to be the highest in England. Market days are Fridays and Saturdays, on other days the area is used for parking. On the north side is the Town Hall, with its 1993 extension, home to the Borough and District Councils. The Tourist Information Centre is sited here. (Tel:01773 841488)
On the opposite side of the Market Place is the Thorn Tree Inn. To see the sundial walk from the inn up towards Shirley Road, which will take you to Crossley Park. The sundial can be found here, at the far end of the park near the bandstand.
The town centre has a variety of shops. There is a Leisure Centre with two swimming pools, squash courts etc. There is a modern public library and a heritage centre. The town is well supplied with public houses.
The name Ripley is an Anglo-Saxon word meaning "a clearing in the shape of a strip." The first documented mention is in the Domesday Book of 1086. It passed into the ownership of the monks of Darley Abbey and for nearly 500 years was an area of farms and cottages supplying tithes to the monastery.
In 1251 a charter was granted for the holding of a market and fair. During the Reformation in the time of Henry VIII the Abbey was dissolved and Ripley passed to Sir John Zouch of Codnor Castle. Eventually, in 1622 the land was sold to local farmers.
Ripley had always been overshadowed by the neighbouring village of Pentrich and was part of that parish. It finally had its own church in 1821, after the ill fated "Pentrich Revolution" of 1817 persuaded the local authorities that there was a need for more education and religious teaching.
The Industrial Revolution brought vast changes in the area. Coal and iron had been worked in this area for centuries, but these now became major industries.
Butterley Ironworks, founded in 1792, was responsible for the erection of many important structures including the great roof of London's St Pancras Station in 1868 and the steel viaduct at Millers Dale in Derbyshire. The Godavari Bridge in India, 9,096 feet long, was made in the works and the manufacturing of steam engines, wagons and machinery was carried out.
The entire process from mining the ore to the finished goods was executed locally.
Brick making was another of the company's activities. Butterley Brick is now a subsidiary of Hanson PLC, the supplier of the bricks for the town's Millennium Sundial.
The movement of people and goods improved with the opening of the turnpike road from Ripley to Derby, followed by the railway in 1856. The population grew and rows of terraced houses were built.
Industry continued much as it was until the 1960s, which brought the closure of the coal mines and the shrinking of heavy industry. Commerce had to adapt to these changes and new industrial estates were provided for lighter industries.
New technologies have brought new businesses to the area, and Ripley will no doubt continue to expand and change in the coming years.