Raleighing Around the Iron Giant.

The Raleigh company has been around for a long time, but not quite as long as the Bennerley Viaduct! The cycle maker started its life on Raleigh Street in 1885, once had a works in Ilkeston and now has its main showroom and distribution centre in Eastwood just a short bike ride away from the viaduct. What could be more natural than for the cycle giant and the “Iron Giant” to join forces?

You have the unique opportunity to discover the wonders of Bennerley Viaduct on a Raleigh electric bike on a weekend event on the 6th and 7th of May.

Starting at Raleigh UK in Eastwood, you will get the opportunity to hear about the history of Bennerley Viaduct and its future plans whilst enjoying light refreshments. You can also browse all the latest Raleigh electric bikes in their new showroom before being kitted out with a Raleigh electric bike.

Once kitted our, you will ride in a group on the Erewash Valley Trail to Bennerley Viaduct where you will hear about Sustrans exciting plans to bring the viaduct back into use as a centrepiece of the areas walking and cycling trails.

There will be two rides on both Saturday and Sunday taking place at 10:00 am and 2:00 pm on both days. The event  is likely to be heavily oversubscribed so places will be allocated on a first come first served basis. In order to book a place, please BOOK HERE

Volunteer work day. April 1st. Get outside and enjoy those April showers

Bennerley Viaduct Workday. Saturday April 1st 10:00 am start

The tasks will start at ten and finish about 3:00pm. Come for as long or as short as you want. As well as protecting the structure, we are all enhancing the environment under the viaduct and your time given is an invaluable contribution to moving the project forwards. Tasks we will undertake on Saturday will include:
LIGHTER WORK
1.Litter: there is not that much to do here after last months marathon clear up but there is some to be cleared and some old plastic gutters need to be moved.
2. Clearance of thorny scrub vegetation, Brambles and unwanted tree removal. (This work is limited due to it being nesting season but there are a few areas which need clearing.
3. Brewing tea and coffee using the Kelly Kettle.

HEAVIER WORK FOR THE MORE ENERGETIC
4. Removal of earth and soil from some cast iron pier bases along with creating a walkway around some pier bases to allow wheelbarrow access (and eventually disabled access) (Bring spades)
5. Some tree stump removal using a mattock.

Tools, Hi Viz vests, litter pickers tools will be provided but if you want to dig, bring a spade if you can.

Bring sensible clothing for the conditions. If you are staying for the day, bring a packed lunch. Tea and coffee will be provided throughout the day using the woodburning miniature Kelly Stove.

Showery weather is predicted and conditions are wet under the viaduct

NB. The bridge on Awsworth Road is still closed so to access the track leading to the viaduct, you will have to come from Shilo Way. Ignore the sign saying road closed. Go down Newtons Lane and just before you come to the new bridge, turn right on the track going up to the viaduct. The barrier will be open allowing vehicle access to the viaduct.
To help plan the session, please e mail me to let me know whether you can attend. kieran.lee@sustrans.org.uk

 

Join us at our First AGM. April 10th

The Friends of Bennerley Viaduct continue to play a pivotal  role in the quest to bring the iconic structure back into use as a walking and cycling trail. The Friends group are drawn from all walks of life and actively support the project from a wide range of different perspectives. Working in partnership with Sustrans, the award winning Friends group have done an immense amount to move the project forwards.

Inaugural AGM. On Monday April 10th 2017 at The Gate Inn, Awsworth at 7:00 pm, the group will be having its inaugural annual general meeting. At this meeting we will review the achievements of the previous year but more importantly, we will aim to reshape the group and refocus our work to match the new challenges that lie ahead as Sustrans puts in its bid for Heritage Lottery Funding.

Help us Shape the Group: In essence, the direction of the group will be shaped and determined by the group. You are invited to attend the meeting and propose motions which will be voted on by those who attend. If you wish to put forward a motion, please consider the four bullet points below and forward any motions to kieran.lee@sustrans.org.uk. by Friday March 31st. This will give us time to ensure all motions are sent out prior to the meeting.

  • Indicate what you would want to develop or what you would want changing.
  • Identify the pros and cons of such a development.
  • Consider whether there are any resource implications.
  • Consider what you could do to make it happen.

Membership and Roles within the Group.  At present, “membership” of the Friends group is an informal arrangement but the view has been expressed in recent meetings that the group is now at the stage in its development to be formalising membership. There is also a need  to develop certain roles within the group such as merchandising, fundraising, managing and organising workdays, developing fund raising opportunities and if individuals volunteer to take on roles, then they must be working within a structure where they are empowered to make decisions within their particular area of responsibility. We are not in the position to open up those roles at present until there has been agreement at the AGM on motions that will be put forward in these areas.

We look forward to your involvement in the future of the group.

 

Kieran Lee

Restoring the Wrought Iron Giant

Bennerley Viaduct, made largely from wrought iron, has withstood the test of time and is in remarkably good shape for a structure which has been exposed to the elements since 1877.  Bringing the viaduct back into use has focussed attention on how best we can make the necessary repairs and how we ensure that the structure remains sound as it is brought back into use as a walking and cycling trail.

A seminar involving  Derby College students, engineers, heritage related conservation officers and members from the Friends of Bennerley Viaduct all learnt a great deal from Geoff Wallis, a leading conservator and founder member of the National Heritage Ironwork Group (NHIG) .   The event was hosted at the historic Roundhouse in Derby which is a Derby College campus.

Geoff Wallis had visited the Bennerley Viaduct on the previous day, learning about the project and assessing the scale of decay which has taken place.  He pointed out to delegates  where the structure needed attention and he outlined non invasive restoration techniques. Following the event, Geoff said ” You have a wonderful structure at Bennerley and your plans for its future are excellent.”

Sustrans Network Development Project Officer Bill Tomson said “we feel more informed and inspired about cast iron and wrought iron. Such knowledge will greatly help in our efforts to restore, manage and maintain Bennerley Viaduct correctly

The seminar was funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and hosted in a partnership with Derby College.

Workday Saturday 4th March

Having visited the site two days ago on on Wednesday 1st, the location where we were going to dig the pond is already under water so that habitat creation task will be left till later in the year when the conditions are drier. The tasks we will undertake on Saturday will Include:

  • Litter Pick around the viaduct to coincide with the Keep Britain Tidy Spring Clean.
  • Clearance of thorny scrub vegetation, Brambles and unwanted tree removal.
  • Removal of Bindweed
  • Removal of earth and soil from some cast iron pier bases.
  • Planning the route of the path under the viaduct.

Tools, Hi Viz vests, litter pickers will be provided. Guidance with tasks and tool usage will also be given. The tasks will start at ten and finish about 3;30pm. Come for as long or as short as you want. As well as protecting the structure, we are all enhancing the environment under the viaduct and your time given is an invaluable contribution to moving the project forwards.

Bring sensible clothing for the conditions. If you are staying for the day, bring a packed lunch. Tea and coffee will be provided throughout the day using the woodburning miniature  Kelly Stove.

NB. The bridge on Awsworth Road is still closed so to access the track leading to the viaduct, you will have to come from Shilo Way. Ignore the sign saying road closed. Go down Newtons Lane and just before you come to the new bridge, turn right on the track going up to the viaduct. The barrier will be open allowing vehicle access to the viaduct.

We look forward to seeing you on Saturday.

Meet the man who nearly blew up Bennerley Viaduct.

The Ilkeston Woodside Model Railway Club’s annual show was full of people admiring the many model railway sets that were on display. The Club had kindly constructed a set up for us which included a scale model of Bennerley Viaduct and this gave us the chance to talk to people about the project.

A man peered into the set and exclaimed “I nearly blew that up”.  Eric Harris informed me that at some time in the early seventies, he had come out of the army where he had been an explosives expert. Back in civvy street, amongst other jobs, he went into the demolition business. When British Rail had no further use for their redundant viaduct, they asked companies to submit tenders for its demolition. Eric put in a tender. He explained that he was going to blow up the viaduct and put it on its side to make the dismantling of the structure easier. However,  he added that due to its wrought iron construction, the metal had no scrap value so the price of the tender could not be offset by the price of the scrap. In addition, the costs of transporting and disposing the wrought iron significantly added to the cost of the demolition. The tender price was too high and it was rejected. Had the viaduct been built of steel, it is more than likely that it would have been demolished. The choice of construction material, wrought iron, proved to be its saving grace.

Eric looked fondly at the model viaduct and said that he was glad that he did not get the contract and he wished the project well for the future. The image is entitled “With the Viaduct in his Hands”. It is always pleasing to hear stories about the viaduct – these personal stories are an important part of the viaduct’s history.

Viaduct MPs express support for Bennerley Project

Bennerley Viaduct joins communities. The viaduct straddles the River Erewash connecting Awsworth with Ilkeston, Derbyshire with Nottinghamshire, the boroughs of Erewash and Broxtowe and the archdioceses of York and Canterbury. The viaduct also links the Parliamentary constituencies  of Erewash and Broxtowe with the seats being held by Maggie Throup MP. and Anna Soubry MP. respectively.

Over the last fortnight, both MPs have visited the viaduct and enjoyed the wonderful views over the Erewash Valley. Sustrans staff shared with the MPs  the huge benefits that the project will bring to the area.  Both MPs are fully behind the project and are most enthusiastic at the prospect of bringing the viaduct back to life as a walking and cycling trail. Anna Soubry described the initiative as a “fantastic project” and she later tweeted “let’s make it happen”.

Anna Soubry MP gives thumbs up to Bennerley Project.

Broxtowe MP, Anna Soubry braved the cold and wet conditions taking a guided tour of Bennerley Viaduct with Matt Easter, Sustrans England Director and Bill Tomson,  Sustrans Network Officer. The proposals to bring the viaduct back into use as a walking and cycling trail were warmly welcomed by the Broxtowe MP . She commented that the project was “excellent” and a  “fantastic one”. She congratulated everyone involved in the project and  tweeted shortly afterwards “Let’s make it happen”.  Anna said she would support the project in any way that she could.

The viaduct straddles the Erewash Valley and connects Nottinghamshire’s Broxtowe constituency with Derbyshire’s Erewash constituency.