Bennerley Viaduct
June 2002

Bennerley Viaduct near Ilkeston

Bennerley Viaduct, which is no longer in service, crosses the River Erewash
between Awsworth, and Ilkeston, and is now classed as a Grade II listed building.
The 1400 feet long, wrought iron bridge, is one of only two of its kind in Britain,
it was built as a twin track viaduct in 1877, for the Great Northern Railway,
and was closed to all traffic in 1973.
The River Erewash at this point, is the border between Nottinghamshire
and Derbyshire, with Eastwood being visible in the background.

Thanks to Roy Gregory from Ilkeston, for the following memories and
comments about the Bennerley Viaduct, and D.H. Lawrence.

Bennerley Viaduct was constructed by utilizing German convict labour in 1887

The only reason the viaduct is standing today, is that the tenders to demolish it were
so high, they had to reconsider its demise?

When asked why the tenders were so high, the authorities were told the
viaduct was constructed of wrought iron, and wrought iron could not be
cut with an oxyacetylene torch. This then meant that the bridge would
have to be disassembled, rivet by rivet, which made them stagger
at the proposed cost of demolition. It was then decided that it should
remain standing, to be preserved as a local landmark.

When I was a lad I visited the viaduct many times, and collected birds eggs,
wood pigeons, and kestrels, (which would be illegal now, but was a
common hobby at that time). I would also scrape up maggots from
Bob Noon’s knackers yard, at Shipley Boat, and sell them to the fishermen
on the nearby Nottingham canal, what a stench for a few pennies.

It is a shame that “The Forty Bridges” could not also have been saved,
but they were crumbing beyond repair. As a matter of fact, there
were not 40 spans, but 37, which did not sound as good as 40.
At one time there were houses built into the arch bases, but they were
abandoned in the 1920’s. The inhabitants of these houses worked
at the old brickyard, at the side of the bridge, with no water or
services provided. I still remember the pastel coloured walls
inside the humble abodes, where we used to play as children.

My father, who was born 1893, told me countless stories about
our area, he worked at Shipley Coppice coal mine for 55 years.
I still remember them all vividly to this day.

D. H. Lawrence taught my older brother, when he was a substitute
teacher working in Ilkeston.

My Grandmother, Hannah Wheatley, was born in the small farmhouse,
next door to the cottage where D. H. Lawrence's fiancé
lived in Cossall, this is the cottage that was mentioned in his book, The Rainbow.

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