The plans to reopen Bennerley Viaduct as a walking and cycling trail will take a giant leap forward over the next few months as critical repairs are carried out. These repairs will extend the future life of the viaduct and enable it to be reopened after fifty years of closure. The structure is on the Historic England At Risk register and it is also on the 2020 World Monument Watch List.
Members of the public are being asked not to climb the earth embankments at each end of the Bennerley viaduct while essential repairs are carried out. The deck of the viaduct, which has become a popular but unofficial walkway, will be fenced off by Ackroyds the contractors until late September when it will be defined as a construction site subject to the requirements of the Health and Safety Executive. The works involves moving machinery and a cradle mechanism spanning the width of the deck to allow specialists to access the high level parts of the structure needing repair. The ballast in the deck troughs will be removed. All of this work is hazardous enough for trained workers and the public must on no account enter the site which will be patrolled by a security firm.
Kieran Lee, Community Engagement Officer for the Friends of Bennerley Viaduct says he is confident that local people will appreciate the need for these precautions. “Hundreds of local people and visitors have become used to walking over the viaduct since it was decommissioned in the 1970s. They have always known that the ‘Iron Giant ‘and its location are something special. They can help to make sure that they and thousands of others can continue to enjoy its full glory when the project is completed by staying away for the time being. “
No rights of way are affected by the current works so people can still enjoy the footpaths and bridleways in this area of the Erewash Valley. If the public wish to keep up with the progress of the restoration and access works, they can do so on Facebook or they can sign up for a free monthly newsletter on this website.