Bennerley Viaduct Project Awarded £75,000 from Railways Heritage Trust

Published on: Wednesday, 15th June 2016

Plans to restore and reopen Bennerley Viaduct have received another major boost thanks to a pledge by the Railway Heritage Trust to award £75,000 to the Bennerley Viaduct Project.

The Railway Heritage trust supports the preservation and upkeep of listed structures by giving both advice and grants to assist structures with historic significance. Bennerley Viaduct is a grade II* listed structure dating from 1877. It has a 440 metre span across the Erewash Valley and the viaduct deck is some 18 metres (60 feet) above the River Erewash. The viaduct is a monument to the ingenuity of Victorian railway engineers. There is only one other surviving wrought iron viaduct in the country.

Sustrans, an environmental charity is actively working with local councils, partners and communities to re-open the viaduct and connect it with the Erewash Valley Trail and other walking and cycling routes.

Commenting on the award, Sustrans England Director, Matt Easter said 'We are thrilled and delighted to have received the support of the Railway Heritage Trust. The award gives an enormous boost to our long term plan to bring the viaduct back into use as a cycling and walking route high above the Erewash Valley.'.

The viaduct will eventually be the key focal point of the Great Northern Greenway which aims to provide a traffic free cycling route along the line of the Great Northern Railway between Derby and Nottingham.

Jeff Wynch, chair of the Friends of Bennerley Viaduct described the news of the Railway Heritage Trust grant as a tremendous shot in the arm for the Sustrans project. 'Some people have been sceptical, having heard calls over the years for the demolition of the viaduct and seen other attempts at restoration fail through lack of funding. They will now be persuaded that there is a real prospect of success this time. The Railway Heritage Trust is an important national organisation whose objective is the preservation and upkeep of listed buildings and structures, and they would not invest this kind of sum without being confident in the future of the project.'

Jeff added 'The Friends and other volunteers have already done an impressive amount of preparatory work in conjunction with Sustrans. They have been involved in workdays on site, public information sessions, publicity and awareness-raising, as well as helping with the current exhibition at the Erewash Museum. The grant means that important and necessary work beyond the scope of volunteers can also proceed. Not that they need encouragement, but this news has put a new spring in everyone's step, and might just be what is needed to get even more people on board.'

Team Sky Cycling Chief Sir Dave Brailsford has also given his full backing to the project. An exhibition about the Viaduct is currently on display in the Erewash Museum in Ilkeston. Sir Dave urged the community to '...visit the exhibition at the museum this summer and discover what an asset you have on your doorstep and what it can offer for the future'

Sustrans plan to submit a bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund later this year with the view to securing further funding to bring this majestic structure back into public use.

if you want to find out more about the project and/or get involved please contact Kieran Lee, Community Engagement Officer at kieran.lee(at)sustrans.org.uk (changing the (at) for @ before sending your e-mail) or call 07823 536941.

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