The FoBV trustees have set out their vision for the development of the Bennerley Viaduct and its surroundings as a successful, financially viable heritage attraction and community asset. The full document can be viewed here.
The development of greater links to, and working partnerships with, the Erewash Canal and the Erewash Museum, present the possibility of an ‘Heritage Hub’ which will contribute to the revitalisation and regeneration of the area.
The Friends of Bennerley Viaduct (FoBV) recognise that it has to be ambitious in its vision and must consider the long-term development of its role within the community, the region and the heritage sector. Over the next 10 years, the development of the Viaduct is envisaged in three phases
Phase One: March 2022 – February 2024 – Bridging the Gap
Bridging the Gap will build the skills and capacity within the FoBV for the successful development of the Viaduct as a visitor attraction, a community asset and a pivotal partner in the regeneration of area.
This phase includes full and part time staff to undertake the project management and maintenance of the natural environment and community engagement. It will contain funding to build important, long-term partnerships with the other neighbouring heritage attractions and test the concept of a ‘Heritage Hub’.
The project will allow the FoBV to develop the skills required and experience needed to take on the lease of the Viaduct and to develop its future.
It is hoped that a close relationship with the adjoining landowner should allow the FoBV to purchase pockets of land. During this phase, it is hoped that land between Shilo Way and the eastern end of the viaduct will come under ownership of the FoBV. This will enable the ambitions set out in Phase 2 to be realised.
Phase Two: 2024 – 2027 – Increased Access and Visitor Facilities
During this phase it is hoped to increase physical access and connections to public rights of way and develop visitor facilities. It will include:
- Building an Eastern Ramp
- Creating a Visitor Centre and café building
- Creating picnic areas for visitors to rest and enjoy the viaduct and its surroundings
With the acquisition of land, the construction of an Eastern Ramp will provide a fully accessible link from the Viaduct to the Nottingham Canal and Shilo Way, to create walking and cycling access for visitors to and from the Nottinghamshire area. This will be important in the development of the Great Northern Greenway. It will also make possible further development of links to public transport. It is the FoBVs’ intention not to be reliant upon car borne visits, but to ensure that the attraction becomes easily accessible by public transport, on foot and by cycle.
The increased accessibility of the Eastern Ramp and added facility of a café will allow the FoBV to become more ambitious in its calendar of events and increase the financial income, creating greater sustainability and opportunity for continued development.
The two canals of Erewash and Nottingham already form a major part of the Erewash Valley Trail. The Eastern Ramp and a visitor centre will link the Erewash Museum, Erewash Canal, the Bennerley Viaduct and the D. H. Lawrence Birthplace in Eastwood in a heritage landscape in the same model as the Ironbridge Gorge. It is hoped that these individual attractions will together create a greater whole, communicating the important cultural and industrial heritage of the area.
The attractions tell the story of the area, its people and its industrialisation, but also that of the industrialisation of Britain, through the canal and railway systems, steel and coal industries. Equally, the two canals and the surrounds of the viaduct have a more modern narrative of care and management of the natural environment.
Phase Three: 2027 to 2031 Consolidation of the Viaduct as a Sustainable Heritage Attraction
By 2027, the viaduct is a popular, accessible and financially viable heritage attraction, providing a full calendar of successful visitor events. It has physical links to the Erewash Valley Trail including the Erewash and Nottingham canals and is part of the Great Northern Greenway. The public transport links have become well used and are facilitating a successful working partnership with the Erewash Museum. Bennerley Viaduct becomes incorporated into the National Cycling Network managed by Sustrans.
The Visitor Centre allows visitors to explore the history of the viaduct, the surrounding site, the Great Northern Railway and the Erewash and Nottingham Canals. It will partner with the Canal Lock Cottage at Sandiacre and the Erewash Museum, and be accessible between both by foot and short public transport journeys.
The Heritage Hub provides exciting and engaging attractions to explore the heritage of the area, the beautiful natural environment, canal side walks and cycling.