Bennerley Viaduct: The Iron Giant

An Icon of Engineering

Bennerley Viaduct is an iconic landmark in the East Midlands. Standing 20 metres high above the valley of the River Erewash, and a quarter of a mile long, it is no surprise it has come to be known as The Iron Giant of the Erewash Valley. Grade II* listed, it was built in 1877-78 by the Great Northern Railway, to carry the Friargate Line from Nottingham to Derby, and beyond. Evocative of the age of steam, iron and coal, it is the longest Victorian wrought iron viaduct in the country, and one of only two still standing. Connecting Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire, it was described by the World Monuments Fund as “an extraordinary monument” and by Historic England as “a stunning example of the genius of British Engineering.”

A Story of Survival

Bennerley Viaduct is also the ultimate survivor: closed to trains in the 1960s, once derelict, it has found a new lease of life in the care of the Friends of Bennerley Viaduct. In 2022 it was re-opened to walkers, cyclists and heritage explorers, and the journey continues with new visitor facilities planned in 2024. Beneath the viaduct is also a haven for wildlife, a place to spend time in nature. A astonishing place to visit for its history, and spectacle, the twenty-first century Iron Giant is also inspiring local pride, promoting wellbeing, and connecting communities.

Where to Find Us

The viaduct is between Cotmanhay and Awsworth, near Ilkeston, at Ordnance Survey grid reference SK 473 438. Find out more on our Visiting the Viaduct page.

Please note, the viaduct is a former railway bridge built nearly 150 years ago. The new deck is 60 feet above the ground and is accessed by a sloping path at one end and steps at the other. There are exposed iron troughs on the deck which should be avoided as they are very slippery when wet. If you are bringing children to the viaduct, please supervise them, and keep dogs on leads as you cross the structure. Cyclists should only use the eastern steps and wheel troughs for access and exit if they are confident in their abilities to do so. A new ramp, at the eastern end, is planned in 2024.

Public access to the Bennerley Viaduct for leisure purposes is by permission of the owners, Railway Paths Ltd. The registered charity, The Friends of Bennerley Viaduct, holds the lease for managing and caring for the site as a visitor attraction. People using the viaduct do so entirely at their own risk. No liability can be accepted in these circumstances.

Virtual, 3D Tour

Why not take our virtual, 3D tour (opens in a separate browser tab) of Bennerley Viaduct and the surrounding area? This preview video give you an impression of what the tour is like, but the real tour covers many more locations in high definition and is fully interactive – you control where you go and what you look at and read about!

This tour was funded thanks to the support of the National Lottery Heritage Fund. Thank you to them, and the players, who made this work possible.

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