The Bennerley Viaduct

The Bennerley Viaduct that sits right on the Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire border between Kimberley and Ilkeston is now open to the public after the completion of a £1.7 million restoration project.

The funding for the project was raised by The Friends of Bennerley Viaduct, a charity that was set up by members of the surrounding communities to protect the grade 2* listed railway viaduct.

Back in July 2019, planning consent was granted to bring the structure that has been standing dormant for 50 years back to life as a walking and cycling trail that connects the two counties.

“The Bennerley Viaduct is a rather special piece of engineering.”

Jeff Wynch, Chair of FRIENDS OF BENNERLEY VIADUCT Committee

The FoBV group has been the driving force in getting the project underway and securing funding. It has been a long process that has taken almost eight years to achieve, but members of the group hope that with the heritage of the structure, the views it offers and it being a traffic-free way of pedestrians and cyclists to cross the existing railway and River Erewash, it will become a popular public space.

Jeff Wynch, who is the chair of The FoBV said that “the Bennerley Viaduct is a rather special piece of engineering” as it is the only one of its kind left.

Audio: Jeff Wynch speaking about the popularity of the structure

 

The iron giant that was built in 1877 by the Great Northern Railway Company is the longest wrought iron viaduct in the country and has been described as a “extraordinary monument” by the World Monuments Fund, meriting it inclusion in the 2020 World Monuments Watch as one of only 25 sites chosen globally.

After the viaduct was closed in 1969, with the last train crossing it in 1968, numerous attempts were made to demolish it.

In 1998 the rail network was privatised and Bennerley Viaduct was eventually passed into the ownership of Railway Paths Ltd, a sister charity to Sustrans, the national walking and cycling charity.

The original driving force behind the construction of the viaduct was for the purpose of moving coal from the Erewash Coalfield, but now it will serve as a recreational space for people living around Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire.

Whilst no date has been announced as of yet, The FoBV plan to hold an event in the spring to celebrate the grand opening but until then, the viaduct remains open to cyclist and pedestrians.