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Listed Building record MDR5807 - Bennerley Viaduct, Ilkeston

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Bennerley Viaduct, Ilkeston, built 1878, now disused. Bennerley Viaduct is a railway viaduct that is now disused. It was built in 1878-9 by Richard Johnson, made by Eastwood Swingler, for the Great Northern Railway. Grade II*. (1) Impressive latticework wrought iron viaduct of c. 1879, almost 500 yards long, which carried the former Great Northern Railway Derbyshire extension (closed c. 1973) across the Nottingham Canal, the river Erewash (the county boundary), the Midland Railway Erewash Valley main line and the Erewash Canal. It has 14 latticework piers and three brick piers. For several years it was under threat of demolition. (2) The Bennerley Viaduct straddles the Erewash Valley and the Nottinghamshire-Derbyshire county boundary. It is more than 600 yards long, running at least 50ft above the valley. It crosses the River Erewash, the Erewash Canal and the main railway line between London and Sheffield. It was built in 1878 as part of the Great Northern Railway line from Nottingham to Derby and closed to through traffic in 1968. It is one of only two remaining British examples of 19th century wrought-iron truss-girder railway viaducts and exemplifies the technique. It faced demolition in the late 1970s/early 1980s but in 1986 proposals for its incorporation into a cycle route or trail were being examined. (3) Bennerley Viaduct is one of two surviving examples of the great metal viaducts that carried many railways across deep valleys in the later part of the 19th century. The earliest railways tended to follow valleys where possible, but later routes often ran against the grain of the land, and many used iron or steel viaducts to bridge valleys at high levels. Bennerley was one of the longest of these structures. The viaduct was listed in 1974, and applications to demolish it were subsequently refused. In 1998 Rail Property Ltd transferred the bridge to the ownership of Sustrans' subsidiary company, Railway Paths Ltd (RPL), and since then RPL has sought a way to reopen it to cycle and pedestrian use. The Railway Trust has given four grants over the years towards holding the condition of the bridge, totalling some £152,000. Although these helped maintain it, they did not allow reopening. During 2016/17 the Railway Trust funded a detailed survey of the viaduct's condition, which allows RPL to understand the works needed to restore its heritage value. The grant has also permitted the removal of the former maintenance gantry, and brickwork repairs to the column bases, which were suffering from weather and vandalism. RPL is working towards a full Heritage Lottery Fund bid in late 2017, which will finally create the long-sought cycle and walking route across the viaduct by adding a new surface and recreating the ramps at either end. (4) A topographic survey of the western embankment of the viaduct was carried out in 2019 and identified a number of features, including evidence of wear from pathways over time. (5) From the National Heritage List for England: 'Summary A late C19 railway viaduct designed to span an extensively-worked coal-mining landscape in the Erewash valley in Derbyshire, using wrought-iron as the principal building material and now one of only two surviving wrought-iron viaducts in England. Reasons for Designation Bennerley Viaduct, a late-C19, wrought-iron railway viaduct that spans the Erewash valley on the Nottinghamshire -Derbyshire border between Awsworth and Ilkeston, is listed at Grade II* for the following principal reasons: * Architectural interest: the viaduct is an outstanding survival of the mature phase of development of the railway network in England, demonstrating the confidence of railway engineers in seeking solutions to specific engineering challenges such as that posed by the terrain of the Erewash valley. * Rarity: the viaduct is one of only two surviving wrought-iron viaducts in England. * Constructional interest: the viaduct was designed as a bespoke lightweight structure using wrought-iron lattice girders and piers in order to reduce the loading on foundations set in heavily undermined ground. * Completeness: the viaduct survives in an almost unaltered state, with none of its structural characteristics altered or obscured by later modifications. History Bennerley Viaduct opened to commercial traffic in January 1878, having been completed in November 1877 for the Great Northern Railway's (GNR) Derbyshire and Staffordshire line. The viaduct was designed to span the Erewash valley between Awsworth in Nottinghamshire and Ilkeston in Derbyshire, an area extensively mined for coal, and its design was specifically lightweight so as to minimise the loading on foundations set in undermined ground. The viaduct was designed by the GNR’s resident engineer, Samuel Abbott (1842-1890), with some involvement by the chief engineer of the Great Northern Railway, Richard Johnson. The 433m long structure was built by Benton and Woodiwiss with wrought-iron components produced by Eastwood and Swingler of Derby, and carried the line over the River Erewash at a height of over 18m. The viaduct remained in use until 1968 when it was closed to freight traffic and appears to have escaped demolition because of the difficulty of dismantling a wrought-iron structure with conventional metal-cutting equipment. The viaduct is now disused and is one of only two surviving wrought-iron viaducts in England, the other being the Meldon Viaduct in Devon. Details A railway viaduct designed to carry the Great Northern Railway’s Derbyshire and Staffordshire line over the River Erewash on the Derbyshire/Nottinghamshire border. Completed in 1877, it was designed by Samuel Abbott, resident engineer to the Great Northern Railway Company (GNR), with the involvement of the company’s chief engineer, Richard Johnson. MATERIALS Wrought iron, with concrete, blue brick and stone foundations and red and blue brick pier and abutment structures. PLAN The viaduct forms the largest, and the central, component of a raised section of the line, which included approach embankments at both ends of the viaduct and a railway bridge at the western end wrought-iron spans. Stubs of the embankments and the railway bridge structure survive, but are not included in the designation. EXTERIOR The viaduct is formed of sixteen lattice deck spans, carried on fifteen evenly-spaced latticework piers. The ends of the spans at each end of the wrought-iron viaduct are supported on brick support structures. These form or formed parts of structures attached to the viaduct, and to embankments forming sections of the raised railway spanning the Erewash valley. The west end of the viaduct is supported by a tall blue brick pier with battered outer walls and brick parapets (the pier also forms part of the east end of the railway bridge to the west of the iron viaduct, which is not included in the designation). The east end of the viaduct is carried on a red-brick abutment. This was originally attached to an embanked section of the line, the stub of which survives (not included in the designation). Each viaduct iron pier is formed of four parallel, diagonally-braced tapered frames linked by vertical cross bracing and four parallel horizontal braced frames. The uppermost level of the pier supports the viaduct deck which is carried on its outer edges by long lattice girders linking the individual piers. The viaduct deck is enclosed by low latticework parapet screens. Legacy The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system. Legacy System number:352233Legacy System:LBS Legal This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest. End of official listing.' (6)

Sources/Archives (6)

  • <1> Bibliographic reference: DOE Listed Buildings Dist of Erewash Derby 6 Nov 1986 24.
  • <2> Bibliographic reference: Fowkes, D. 1986. Derbyshire Industrial Archaeology - A Gazetteer of Sites. Part II - Borough of Erewash. 19.
  • <3> Article in serial: McClintock, H. 1986. 'Viaduct crosses bridges', Planning. No. 650, Jan 10, pp 10-11.
  • <4> Bibliographic reference: Railway Heritage Trust. 2017. Annual Report and Accounts 2016/17. 27.
  • <5> Unpublished document: Jacklin, A (ARS Ltd). 2019. A Level 2 Earthwork Survey of Bennerley Viaduct, Awsworth Road, Ilkeston, Derbyshire.
  • <6> Listed Building File: Historic England. 2011. The National Heritage List for England.



Grid reference SK 47262 43835 (point)

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  • EDR5012

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Record last edited

Jan 29 2024 4:39AM

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