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Bennerley Viaduct

A Grade II* Listed Building in Awsworth, Nottinghamshire

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Latitude: 52.9899 / 52°59'23"N

Longitude: -1.2971 / 1°17'49"W

OS Eastings: 447281

OS Northings: 343847

OS Grid: SK472438

Mapcode National: GBR 7FN.GXB

Mapcode Global: WHDGQ.13MQ

Entry Name: Bennerley Viaduct

Listing Date: 21 November 1974

Last Amended: 30 September 2015

Grade: II*

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1140437

English Heritage Legacy ID: 352233

Location: Awsworth, Broxtowe, Nottinghamshire, NG16

County: Nottinghamshire

District: Broxtowe

Civil Parish: Awsworth

Traditional County: Nottinghamshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Nottinghamshire

Church of England Parish: Awsworth

Church of England Diocese: Southwell and Nottingham

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A late C19 railway viaduct designed to span an extensively-worked coal-mining landscape in the Erewash valley in Derbyshire, using wrought-iron as the principal building material and now one of only two surviving wrought-iron viaducts in England.


A railway viaduct designed to carry the Great Northern Railway’s Derbyshire and Staffordshire line over the River Erewash on the Derbyshire/Nottinghamshire border. Completed in 1877, it was designed by Samuel Abbott, resident engineer to the Great Northern Railway Company (GNR), with the involvement of the company’s chief engineer, Richard Johnson.

Wrought iron, with concrete, blue brick and stone foundations and red and blue brick pier and abutment structures.

The viaduct forms the largest, and the central, component of a raised section of the line, which included approach embankments at both ends of the viaduct and a railway bridge at the western end wrought-iron spans. Stubs of the embankments and the railway bridge structure survive, but are not included in the designation.

The viaduct is formed of sixteen lattice deck spans, carried on fifteen evenly-spaced latticework piers. The ends of the spans at each end of the wrought-iron viaduct are supported on brick support structures. These form or formed parts of structures attached to the viaduct, and to embankments forming sections of the raised railway spanning the Erewash valley. The west end of the viaduct is supported by a tall blue brick pier with battered outer walls and brick parapets (the pier also forms part of the east end of the railway bridge to the west of the iron viaduct, which is not included in the designation). The east end of the viaduct is carried on a red-brick abutment. This was originally attached to an embanked section of the line, the stub of which survives (not included in the designation).

Each viaduct iron pier is formed of four parallel, diagonally-braced tapered frames linked by vertical cross bracing and four parallel horizontal braced frames. The uppermost level of the pier supports the viaduct deck which is carried on its outer edges by long lattice girders linking the individual piers. The viaduct deck is enclosed by low latticework parapet screens.


Bennerley Viaduct opened to commercial traffic in January 1878, having been completed in November 1877 for the Great Northern Railway's (GNR) Derbyshire and Staffordshire line. The viaduct was designed to span the Erewash valley between Awsworth in Nottinghamshire and Ilkeston in Derbyshire, an area extensively mined for coal, and its design was specifically lightweight so as to minimise the loading on foundations set in undermined ground. The viaduct was designed by the GNR’s resident engineer, Samuel Abbott (1842-1890), with some involvement by the chief engineer of the Great Northern Railway, Richard Johnson. The 433m long structure was built by Benton and Woodiwiss with wrought-iron components produced by Eastwood and Swingler of Derby, and carried the line over the River Erewash at a height of over 18m. The viaduct remained in use until 1968 when it was closed to freight traffic and appears to have escaped demolition because of the difficulty of dismantling a wrought-iron structure with conventional metal-cutting equipment. The viaduct is now disused and is one of only two surviving wrought-iron viaducts in England, the other being the Meldon Viaduct in Devon.

Reasons for Listing

Bennerley Viaduct, a late-C19, wrought-iron railway viaduct that spans the Erewash valley on the Nottinghamshire -Derbyshire border between Awsworth and Ilkeston, is listed at Grade II* for the following principal reasons:

* Architectural interest: the viaduct is an outstanding survival of the mature phase of development of the railway network in England, demonstrating the confidence of railway engineers in seeking solutions to specific engineering challenges such as that posed by the terrain of the Erewash valley.

* Rarity: the viaduct is one of only two surviving wrought-iron viaducts in England.

* Constructional interest: the viaduct was designed as a bespoke lightweight structure using wrought-iron lattice girders and piers in order to reduce the loading on foundations set in heavily undermined ground.

* Completeness: the viaduct survives in an almost unaltered state, with none of its structural characteristics altered or obscured by later modifications.

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