Bennerley Viaduct set for 'milestone year' with plans to reopen after five decades
After 50 years of closure, there are firm hopes that an iconic Awsworth landmark will open later this year.
The first phase in a million-pound project to restore and reopen the historic Bennerley Viaduct is said to be progressing smoothly.
It is hoped 2021 will be a milestone year for the viaduct as the area is being transformed into a community asset and a major tourist attraction.
The disused railway viaduct, which is a Grade II listed structure dating back to 1877, straddles the Nottinghamshire-Derbyshire border near Awsworth.
Since 2018, members of the Friends of Bennerley Viaduct (FoBV) have worked together with the viaduct owners Railway Paths Ltd (RPL) as part of the ‘Access to Heritage’ project, which aims to restore the structure, enable public access and create an inspirational green public space with the 'Iron Giant' as its stunning centrepiece.
In July 2019, planning consent was granted to bring the viaduct back into use as a walking and cycling trail and the project has so far had an investment of £1.4million from various backers including key funders, The Railway Heritage Trust, the National Lottery Heritage Fund and Historic England.
Railway Heritage Trust executive director Andy Savage said: “We have been involved in trying to restore Bennerley Viaduct ever since we started giving grants, back in 1985.
"We are delighted to see the project finally approaching completion, nearly four decades later.
"Our thanks to Railway Paths and The Friends of Bennerley Viaduct for sticking with this iconic structure through thick and thin.”
As Covid restrictions begin to lift and spring is well underway, progress at the viaduct continues with the construction of its western ramp.
A spokesperson for the FoBV said: "Despite floods, blizzards, frosts, winds and lockdown, contractors at the viaduct have been busy constructing the ramp which will provide access to the deck of the viaduct from the Erewash Canal."
Members of the group are also celebrating the viaduct’s recent appearance in UKTV's 'The Architecture the Railways Built' documentary.
The spokesperson added: "The outcome of the broadcast was phenomenal. Our website received an avalanche of interest and our Twitter feed was bombarded.”