Bennerley Viaduct restoration project appoint new engagement officer

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A £40,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund has created new job for Bennerley Viaduct restoration project.

Kieran Lee, from Eastwood, is now the community engagement and development officer for the Sustrans project.

His role will be to get more people engaged in the Victorian viaduct.

The retired teacher said: “We are so fortunate to have this iconic structure and feat of Victorian engineering on our doorstep.”

Bennerley Viaduct has spanned the Erewash Valley since it was built in 1877 to carry the Great Northern Railway’s Derbyshire and Staffordshire extension.

The line was closed in 1968 as part of the Beeching cuts which saw a massive reduction of the route network of the railways of Britain.

Today Bennerley is one of only two wrought iron viaducts left in the country and is Grade II* listed by Historic England.

Bennerley Viaduct is managed by Sustrans and after the restoration is complete turn it into a cycle path.

Kieran said: “I am really looking forward to working with all sectors of the community to both discover and share the many fascinating stories of the viaduct’s 138 year history.

As well as Kieran’s appointment, the £40,000 Heritage Lottery funding will enable a range of activities to take place on the project over the forthcoming months.

These include providing education materials for local schools, showcasing the viaduct through an exhibition at Erewash Museum.

The money will also be spent on developing a heritage trail on the existing footpath network to enable the growing numbers of people who are using the Erewash Valley Trail to learn about and appreciate the iconic structure.

There will also be regular workdays whereby people can volunteer to help with practical maintenance tasks on the site. The next workday is taking place on Wednesday 27 January.

The dad-of-two added: “I would be keen to hear from anyone who has any personal story about the viaduct and with any group who share the passion to restore, reconnect and re-open the viaduct as a walking and cycling trail.”

Kieran can be contacted on kieran.lee@sustrans.org.uk