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       February 2022         Written by the community for the community

       Where people tell their stories      No. 78       50p where sold
       Cheering our readers in Ilkeston and surrounding districts
       All hands on deck

       Viaduct opens to public after decades of closure

        t is 54 years since the last freight train   PLANS
       Icrossed the Erewash Valley on the   The successful project, begun in 2017, was
       Bennerley Viaduct; 58 years since the   the latest in a line of schemes designed to re-  Above: Pupils from Awsworth Primnary School on
       final passengers made that journey. Now,   store and re-purpose the viaduct as a walking   the newly opened Bennerley Viaduct.
       after facing down attempts to demolish   and cycling path in the sky.  The Benner-  Right: Andy Savage (left) and David Pemberton.
       it, enduring a siege by open cast mining,   ley Viaduct Trust Working Party (later the
       and undergoing changes of ownership   Bennerley Viaduct Preservation Trust) spent
       it is back in use, this time as a route for   years working on plans for a scheme which
       walkers and cyclists.                they finalised in the late 1990s.  But when
       The deck of the viaduct is also accessible   British Rail changed its policy on disposing
       for wheelchair and mobility scooter users.  of assets the Trust could no longer take own-
       The viaduct was declared open on Wednes-  ership of the viaduct and its plans came to
       day 14th January when works on the new   nothing.  Railway Paths Ltd. was created to
       deck were finished. Andy Savage, out-  handle redundant railway property including
       going chairman of the Railway Heritage   the viaduct. It was not until 2015 that a new
       Trust, joined David Pemberton, Director   plan was drawn up, this time by Sustrans,
       of Railway Paths Ltd. on the new deck to   the sustainable transport charity. The Friends
       see contractors, Crown Plus, finish their   of Bennerley Viaduct was formed to be a
       work. RHT was one of the major funders of   partner in the scheme. When this project too
       the project “Bennerley Viaduct: Access to   was shelved in 2017 Railway Paths stepped
       Heritage” which has brought the Iron Giant   in to work with the Friends.
       back to life.  “I had the honour of the first   MORE REACTIONS
       cycle ride across it,” said Andy Savage.   Kieran Lee, FoBV Community Engagement
       VISITORS                             Officer.
       The following day, in glorious sunshine,   “The re-opening of the viaduct is a testament
       hundreds of local people and visitors from   to the way people and organisations have
       further afield flocked to the viaduct to be   worked together.  The owners, the Friends,
       among the first to stroll, run or ride across,   local communities on both sides of the coun-
       or just to pause and enjoy the views up and   ty boundary, groups of enthusiasts and the
       down the Erewash Valley. Since then it has   funding bodies have joined forces to achieve
       been non-stop traffic. Transformed from a   a common goal. Special thanks must go to
       marooned and redundant bridge, the Iron   RPL who led the project.”
       Giant is now more like an inland pier, a   Jeff Wynch, chair of the FoBV committee.
       seaside promenade or even, as someone   “It was a real delight to stand on the viaduct
       suggested one foggy morning, the deck of   on opening day watching and talking to the
       an ocean liner!                      first visitors.  They were mostly local people
       The biggest group of visitors was a party of   who had walked or cycled from home.
       180 pupils from Awsworth Primary School.   They’ve been looking forward to  this day
       Deputy Head Ian Baxter, an expert in using   as much as everyone involved in the project
       local heritage in children’s education is also   has.  You could see the joy on their faces as
       a Trustee of the Friends. “We’ve included   they took in a view of the Erewash Valley
       a study of the viaduct in our curriculum   that most of them had never seen before”.
       for several years now but having access to   John Scruton, chair of FoBV Trustees.
       the whole structure has really opened the   “During the course of the project the FoBV
       children’s eyes to the historic and natural   has grown and become a registered charity.
       heritage just thirty minutes’ walk from the   We have learnt a great deal working with
       classroom,” says Dr. Baxter.                                 Continued on P2

         New use for Ilkeston’s                                                     Meeting called for anyone

         art-deco Ritz cinema                                                       interested in having our

         up for discussion - P6                                                     own community theatre - P4

          Top v second: Ilkeston draw with Halesowen in front of another two thousand-plus crowd at the New Manor Ground - P24
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