Derbyshire railway viaduct joins Notre Dame and Easter Island on at-risk heritage list

Bennerley Viaduct, near Ilkeston, has been selected to join famous landmarks across the world on a list of at-risk heritage sites. Photo by: Rod Kirkpatrick.
Bennerley Viaduct, near Ilkeston, has been selected to join famous landmarks across the world on a list of at-risk heritage sites. Photo by: Rod Kirkpatrick.

Bennerley Viaduct has been selected to join famous landmarks on a list of at-risk heritage sites by the World Monument Fund.

The 1,410ft Bennerley Viaduct, near Ilkeston, is the only UK location on the 2020 World Monuments Watch.

The grade II listed Victorian structure straddles the Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire boundary and is the longest wrought iron viaduct in Britain.

The railway viaduct, which is still on Historic England’s at-risk register, is one of just 25 projects selected from a pool of 250 nominations worldwide.

World Monuments Watch is run by the New York based World Monuments Fund, a private non-profit organisation, which sponsors an ongoing programme for the conservation of cultural heritage worldwide.

The World Monuments Fund identifies endangered sites and works with local communities to conserve their heritage and to explore ways of ensuring its long-term stewardship.

The Friends of Bennerley Viaduct, who submitted the application, and owners Railway Paths Ltd, are delighted by this massive boost to their joint project.

Kieran Lee of the Friends said: “Inclusion in the World Monuments Watch List is recognition of the cultural significance of the viaduct and of its potential to improve people’s lives.

“Over the next two years we’ll benefit from the support and advice of heritage experts and increase our chances of gaining further funding for our project.”

Chair of the Friends group, Jeff Wynch, added: “Our group has come a long way since its first meeting in 2015, but we need to grow and develop so that we can secure the site’s long-term future.

"This new partnership with the World Monuments Watch could not have come at a better time.”

Plans to repair and restore Bennerley Viaduct were approved this summer and enough funds have been raised for the project to begin, including the relocation of great crested newts and repair work on the brick piers.

Public engagement continues to grow within the project from increased membership and volunteers to guided walks and attendances at talks.

International recognition from the World Monument Watch will add to the momentum that the project is generating.

John Darlington, Executive Director of the World Monument Fund, Britain said: “Bennerley is an extraordinary monument – special because of its historical importance as the longest wrought iron viaduct in Britain, but also special because of what it means to the local community.

“It’s a delightful opportunity to showcase heritage and its contribution to health, wellbeing and as a home to nature.

“We’re so pleased that is has made it onto the 2020 Watch, and look forward to a catalytic partnership.”