Historic Derbyshire rail viaduct to officially launch with celebration community event

A Victorian railway bridge will be officially launched this weekend – marking a major restoration project after more than five decades of dereliction.

By Julia Rodgerson
Wednesday, 3rd August 2022, 5:56 pm
Updated Wednesday, 3rd August 2022, 5:56 pm

On Sunday, August 7 Lord-Lieutenants of both Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire will cut the ribbon to celebrate the first year of “the Iron Giant” being open to the public.

Sir John Peace, the Lord-Lieutenant of Nottinghamshire, and Elizabeth Fothergill CBE, the Lord-Lieutenant of Derbyshire, will be joined by Scouts from both counties, trustees and volunteers from the charity, and local people at Bennerley Viaduct at 12pm.

First opened in 1878, as part of the Great Northern Railway between Nottingham and Derby, the wrought iron Bennerley Viaduct has long been an iconic site, stretching over the Erewash Valley near Ilkeston.

On Sunday, August 7, at 12pm, Sir John Peace, the Lord-Lieutenant of Nottinghamshire, and Elizabeth Fothergill CBE, the Lord-Lieutenant of Derbyshire, will be joined by Scouts from both counties, trustees and volunteers from the charity, and local people at Bennerley Viaduct.

Closed to trains in the 1960s, it has been restored and opened as a walking and cycling route.

A ramp, steps and deck were opened in 2022 allowing people to cross from one side to the other, but it also saw the start of a major project funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, to raise the profile of the viaduct.

A nature reserve and footpath has also been created underneath the viaduct.

Friends of Bennerley Viaduct have taken on a 99 year lease, committing to care for the viaduct for the foreseeable future.

Alongside the opening ceremony, the day will also include guided tours of the viaduct, activities for families, music, and food and drink.

It is the first of many community events that will be held at the viaduct, with one of the main aims of the National Lottery Heritage Fund financed project being to grow the viaduct into a sustainable visitor attraction.

Elizabeth Fothergill CBE, Lord-Lieutenant of Derbyshire, said: “As HM Lord-Lieutenant of Derbyshire it is my pleasure and privilege to be part of the official opening of the Bennerley Viaduct, what a unique and amazing addition to the numerous attractions of the area and I know it will be enjoyed by residents and visitors for years to come. I would like to pay tribute to the passion, hard work and commitment of all those who had the vision to bring this incredible piece of transport history back into use and to those who funded and supported the project, you should all be justifiably proud.”