Bennerley Viaduct reopens to public after more than 50 years as £1.7million project complete
An iconic Awsworth landmark has finally reopened up to the public after laying silent for more than five decades.
The disused Victorian railway bridge, which is a Grade II listed structure dating back to 1877, straddles the Nottinghamshire-Derbyshire border near Awsworth.
In July 2019, planning consent was granted to bring the viaduct back into use as a walking and cycling trail and the project has seen an investment of £1.7million from various backers including key funders The Railway Heritage Trust, the National Lottery Heritage Fund and Historic England.
The money was pumped into transforming the area into a community asset and major tourist attraction – which opened up to the public for the first time this week.
Kieran Lee, community engagement officer at Friends of Bennerley Viaduct, said: “We are indebted to all the funders who made the dream to re-open the viaduct a reality.
“It is a remarkable achievement for all concerned.”
Opened in 1877, the ‘Iron Giant’ spans 430 metres and was closed as part of the Beeching railway cuts in 1968. It has since remained closed for 54 years.
The viaduct has been described by the World Monuments Fund as being an “extraordinary monument” and was one of only 25 sites globally to be included in the 2020 World Monuments Watch.
Plans to repair the well-loved structure have been underway in various forms since the 1980s but now, finally, the viaduct can be used by members of the public everyday.
Already this week, dozens of people have flocked from all across the Erewash Valley to walk or cycle over the renovated structure.
Andy Savage, from the Railway Heritage Trust, which helped to fund the repair works, said: “I had the honour of the first cycle ride across it.”
Public access to the deck is available via steps off a canal tow path at the Awsworth end or by a ramp at the other end.
An official grand opening ceremony is set to take place later in the year.