Meet the man who nearly blew up Bennerley Viaduct.

The Ilkeston Woodside Model Railway Club’s annual show was full of people admiring the many model railway sets that were on display. The Club had kindly constructed a set up for us which included a scale model of Bennerley Viaduct and this gave us the chance to talk to people about the project.

A man peered into the set and exclaimed “I nearly blew that up”.  Eric Harris informed me that at some time in the early seventies, he had come out of the army where he had been an explosives expert. Back in civvy street, amongst other jobs, he went into the demolition business. When British Rail had no further use for their redundant viaduct, they asked companies to submit tenders for its demolition. Eric put in a tender. He explained that he was going to blow up the viaduct and put it on its side to make the dismantling of the structure easier. However,  he added that due to its wrought iron construction, the metal had no scrap value so the price of the tender could not be offset by the price of the scrap. In addition, the costs of transporting and disposing the wrought iron significantly added to the cost of the demolition. The tender price was too high and it was rejected. Had the viaduct been built of steel, it is more than likely that it would have been demolished. The choice of construction material, wrought iron, proved to be its saving grace.

Eric looked fondly at the model viaduct and said that he was glad that he did not get the contract and he wished the project well for the future. The image is entitled “With the Viaduct in his Hands”. It is always pleasing to hear stories about the viaduct – these personal stories are an important part of the viaduct’s history.

Viaduct MPs express support for Bennerley Project

Bennerley Viaduct joins communities. The viaduct straddles the River Erewash connecting Awsworth with Ilkeston, Derbyshire with Nottinghamshire, the boroughs of Erewash and Broxtowe and the archdioceses of York and Canterbury. The viaduct also links the Parliamentary constituencies  of Erewash and Broxtowe with the seats being held by Maggie Throup MP. and Anna Soubry MP. respectively.

Over the last fortnight, both MPs have visited the viaduct and enjoyed the wonderful views over the Erewash Valley. Sustrans staff shared with the MPs  the huge benefits that the project will bring to the area.  Both MPs are fully behind the project and are most enthusiastic at the prospect of bringing the viaduct back to life as a walking and cycling trail. Anna Soubry described the initiative as a “fantastic project” and she later tweeted “let’s make it happen”.

Steam to roll over Bennerley Viaduct this Sunday

Despite the fact that trains last went over the viaduct in 1968, you can witness the unusual spectacle this weekend  of steam travelling over Bennerley taking iron ore to Stanton! You can see this spectacle in Trowell Parish Hall this Sunday where the Ilkeston Woodside Model Railway Club will he holding their 15th annual show. A scale model of  a section of Bennerley Viaduct has been incorporated into a layout so trains will once again be going over Bennerley. The scale model of the viaduct was made by Paul Topliss and the set was created by members of the model railway club.

There will be lots of other sets on display and the event is hugely popular. If you want a good day out, get to Trowell this Sunday 26th February.

Anna Soubry MP gives thumbs up to Bennerley Project.

Broxtowe MP, Anna Soubry braved the cold and wet conditions taking a guided tour of Bennerley Viaduct with Matt Easter, Sustrans England Director and Bill Tomson,  Sustrans Network Officer. The proposals to bring the viaduct back into use as a walking and cycling trail were warmly welcomed by the Broxtowe MP . She commented that the project was “excellent” and a  “fantastic one”. She congratulated everyone involved in the project and  tweeted shortly afterwards “Let’s make it happen”.  Anna said she would support the project in any way that she could.

The viaduct straddles the Erewash Valley and connects Nottinghamshire’s Broxtowe constituency with Derbyshire’s Erewash constituency.



Exhibition on Tour

In 2016, over 16,000 people visited the Bennerley Viaduct Exhibition at the Erewash Museum in Ilkeston. Since then, it has been on permanent tour in schools, colleges, education centres, churches and other venues. It has just been displayed in all of the campuses of Derby College and it has now returned to Ilkeston being on display at the Canteloupe Centre. In April it will be spending the month at the Visitors Centre at Shipley Country Park. The centrepiece of the exhibition is a  large scale model of the viaduct showing all the connections to the areas walking and cycling trails. Along with eight themed information boards, the exhibition contains a wealth of information about the fascinating history of Bennerley Viaduct.

Forthcoming Work / Volunteer days

Over the past two years, volunteers have given hundreds of hour of time undertaking tasks and this work has been invaluable in moving the project forwards. The two key themes of our volunteer work are around protecting the magnificent structure of the viaduct and enriching wildlife habitats both on and underneath the viaduct.  Workdays start at 10:00 am and usually go on until 3:30 – 4:00 pm but if you are only available for a part of that time, you would be more than welcome. All tools are provided and training in how to use the tools will be given. If you want further details about any workday, please contact

Saturday March 4th 2017  Pond Digging and removing scrub vegetation. (Environmental enhancement. Meet 10:00am under the viaduct.

Access to the viaduct available by foot, bike or car on the track from Newtons Lane.

Saturday April 1st 2017.  Digging out Pier bases.  Earth and soil has covered some of the cast iron baseplates which support the viaduct and this will lead to their corrosion. The key task of the day is removing the earth from the baseplates.