Bennerley Viaduct, the grade II* listed Victorian wrought iron structure straddling the Derbyshire/Nottinghamshire boundary, has gained international recognition by its inclusion in the 2020 World Monuments Watch list. The railway viaduct, still on Historic England’s at-risk register, is one of just 25 projects selected from a competitive pool of 250 nominations worldwide, and the only site to be chosen in Britain this year. All the sites included in the 2020 World Monuments Watch List were selected to support communities who are striving to save sites of outstanding cultural importance.
World Monuments Watch is run by the New York based World Monuments Fund, a private non-profit organisation, which sponsors an ongoing programme for the conservation of cultural heritage worldwide. The World Monuments Fund identifies endangered sites and works with local communities both to conserve their heritage and to explore ways of ensuring its long-term stewardship.
The Friends of Bennerley Viaduct, who submitted the application, and owners Railway Paths Ltd, are delighted by this massive boost to their joint project. Kieran Lee of the Friends said:
“Inclusion in the World Monuments Watch List is recognition of the cultural significance of the viaduct and of its potential to improve people’s lives. Over the next two years we’ll benefit from the support and advice of heritage experts and increase our chances of gaining further funding for our project.”
Chair of the Friends group, Jeff Wynch, added:
“Our group has come a long way since its first meeting in 2015, but we need to grow and develop so that we can secure the site’s long-term future. This new partnership with the World Monuments Watch could not have come at a better time.”
John Darlington, Executive Director of the World Monument Fund, Britain paid this tribute to the viaduct:
“Bennerley is an extraordinary monument – special because of its historical importance as the longest wrought iron viaduct in Britain, but also special because of what it means to the local community. It’s a delightful opportunity to showcase heritage and its contribution to health, wellbeing and as a home to nature. We’re so pleased that is has made it onto the 2020 Watch, and look forward to a catalytic partnership.”
Plans to repair and restore Bennerley Viaduct and to create access to a new deck were approved this summer, and enough funds have been raised for the project to start in Autumn 2019. Recent weeks have seen a massive volunteer effort to relocate great crested newts, so that repair work on the brick piers can begin and vegetation has been cleared to create access for contractors. Public engagement with the project continues to grow in all respects from increased membership and volunteer numbers to oversubscribed guided walks and attendances at illustrated talks. International recognition from the World Monument Watch will add to the amazing momentum that the project is generating.