On Friday 1 September 2023 NRHA chairman, Andy Savage MBE, attended the Annual General Meeting of the Friends on Bennerley Viaduct in order to re-present the plaque that the project to restore the viaduct – supported by the Friends and Railway Paths Ltd – had been awarded at the National Railway Heritage Awards in December 2022.
The viaduct, a remarkable survivor from the now long closed ex-Great Northern Railway line between Nottingham and Derby, last carried trains in 1968. Fortunate to survive closure – having been scheduled for demolition – the structure was first listed in 1974. Three decades later, such was the parlous condition of the structure that it 2007 it was added to the Heritage at Risk Register and, 13 years later, was the only UK building to feature on the 2020 World Monuments Watch list.
However, moves to secure its future were already starting to be developed and, in 2020, work finally started on a project to convert the viaduct to accommodate a cycleway and footpath.
Such was the scale and success of the project that it was awarded a Chairman’s Special Award at the NRHA’s ceremony held at Merchant Taylors’ Hall in London in December 2022.
Andy Savage, centre, with the plaque awarded to Railway Paths Ltd for their work on Bennerley Viaduct, with, on the left, Bill Tomson, project manager for Railway Paths Ltd, and, on the right, John Scruton chairman of the Friends of Bennerley Viaduct
The Grade II* listed 1,421ft-long Bennerley Viaduct, built for the Great Northern Railway and opened in January 1878, was closed in 1968. It recently underwent a major project, backed by the Friends of Bennerley Viaduct and Railway paths Ltd, that saw the viaduct restored and converted for use as a footpath and cycleway. As such, it was a worthy winner of a Chairman’s Special Award at the 2022 National Railway Heritage Awards.