The Force is with us.

The sun shone and thousands turned out to the classic car show in Ilkeston. The Friends of Bennerley Viaduct had a stall which was busy all day. There was overwhelming support for the project.

The force was clearly with us as notable visitors to our stall was Darth Vader accompanied by  Star Wars stormtroopers. We were even visited by petrolhead Stig who promised to  invest in a pushbike when Bennerley Viaduct reopens.

We heard many fascinating stories about the viaduct. It was empowering to experience the depth of support that this project is receiving from  the local community. Thanks to Jeff for organising the day and to Rich, Colin and Trevor for their sterling work promoting the viaduct.

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Volunteer workday. Saturday August 5th

Take a chance and brave the showers and squalls forecast for Saturday

 The focus of Saturdays workday will be to maintain all the access to the full length and to ensure all the pier bases remain clear of vegetation. Tasks will including, lopping,  pruning back brambles and shrubs, tree stump removal large and small, shifting some of the debris from pier base 4, removing creeping soil and vegetation from the tarmac areas, litter removal, removing some debris from under the viaduct to the main collecting point. New vegetation is growing out of the pierbases so it would make sense to remove that before it gets re-established. We will also be clearing back some vegetation and bindweed which is choking some areas.

If you can make it, there are lots of blackberries around so bring a tub. Starting at 10:00 am. Finishing at 3:00 come for as long or as short as you can make it. The Kelly kettle will be on for you. Tea, coffee and a refreshment afterwards provided.

Meet: Under the viaduct. The barrier off Newtons Lane will be open from 9:30 am onwards. Tools and protective gloves provided.

“Every Little Helps” Bennerley Viaduct Exhibition goes to Tesco

With a weekly footfall of over 30,000 local shoppers,  both Sustrans and the Friends of Bennerley Viaduct  were  delighted when Tesco offered to host our exhibition over the months of June and July.  The scale model of the viaduct really caught the attention of shoppers as it was installed near the checkouts. The model of the viaduct brought back memories to many shoppers who retold stories of travelling over and playing under the viaduct in the days when steam trains ran out of Ilkeston.

Kieran Lee, Community Engagement Officer of the project is delighted with the response of the community and grateful to Tesco’s for their support for the project. He said “Displaying the Exhibition in Tescos is a brilliant way of engaging the local community with the project to reopen Bennerley Viaduct as a walking and cycling Trail. The response that we have had from the community has been truly magnificent. We hope to capture some of those important stories which are an important part of the viaduct’s rich history”

Angie Young, Community Champion for TESCO said “The Bennerley Viaduct is an important local landmark and we see this important work as a positive step to bringing community cohesion firstly through volunteering opportunities and also employment opportunities to a deprived community at a later date.   Angie added “This area is full of natural beauty and historic interest which will be opened up for both local people and those from farther afield.”

Have a look at the exhibition if you are going to Tescos – We are getting more leaflets printed and they should be in the store soon.

Forthcoming Workdays

There are two workdays which are coming up:

Workday 1. Saturday, June 3rd working underneath the viaduct. The barrier on Newtons Lane will be open. Start at 10:00 – finish at 3:00pm. Come for as long or as short as you can manage.  There will be a range of tasks which include:

  • Some vegetation removal near the brick abutment.
  • Digging out Pier base 4.
  • Digging out a pathway under the viaduct.
  • Pond digging – weather permitting)
  • Tree stump removal.

Tools provided but bring your spade if you have one.

Workday 2. Wednesday June 14th 10:00 am until 3:00 pm.  A midweek workday will take place to coincide with the visit of the Chief Executive of Heritage Lottery,  Ros Kerslake. Ros is interested in meeting volunteers and seeing the work that the volunteers have done to date.   She will be at the viaduct at some time between 11:30am and  12:30 pm. I realise that many of you will working but the visit will enable us to demonstrate the fantastic amount of work that has been achieved over the last two years.  It would be really helpful if you could e mail me kieran.lee@sustrans.org.uk and let me know whether you can attend the Wednesday event as I need to plan the session and know how many will be attending. Tools provided but bring a spade if you have one.

Enjoy a day working, talking and enjoying the fresh air knowing you are making a real difference.

Sharing Bennerley’s Heritage

One of the key purposes of the Bennerley Viaduct Project is to enable the local community and visitors alike to learn about and celebrate this magnificent structure. Many people in the area are aware of the viaduct but know little of its history and the stories it tells.  We are therefore delighted that Heritage Lottery have funded the cost of providing interpretation boards which have been erected in three locations. These are at  the Nottingham Canal viaduct viewing point, Newtons Lane car park and at the Bridge Inn in Cotmanhay.

The viaduct is of national importance. There is only one other wrought iron viaduct of its type left in the country and there is a growing sense of pride in the valley and beyond that we are the custodians of such an important piece of industrial history. his is part of the ongoing process of sharing and celebrating that rich industrial heritage.

(The image above was taken by Steve Adams and posted on the Eastwood and Kimberley Out and about facebook page)

“Raleigh” in the Valley

On the weekend of May 6th and 7th, over sixty cyclists took part in this historic event with Raleigh providing a fleet  of the art electric bikes. People came from as far afield as Manchester and Crewe for the event where groups pedalled on  the Erewash Valley Trail from the Raleigh HQ in Eastwood to Bennerley Viaduct. Riding through this part of D.H.Lawrence country on the e bikes was an absolute joy for all involved.

The event put bikes and Bennerley together and the event widened the number of people who  learned about Bennerley Viaduct and the exciting plans for it. One lady on completing the trip to the viaduct said it was the best couple of hours that she had spent in years.

We hope to run further events  with Raleigh and hopefully, we will be able to ride across the deck of the viaduct in the not too distant future.