Iron to Iron: The Long-Distance Ride to Bennerley Viaduct
On September 13, a group of 17 cyclists set off to complete the inaugural Iron to Iron long-distance cycling tour. Connecting the last two remaining wrought iron viaducts in the United Kingdom, the tour kicked off at Meldon Viaduct and ended at Bennerley Viaduct, a 2020 World Monuments Watch site.
Along their journey, cyclists discovered some of the country’s iconic bridges, from the Clifton Suspension Bridge and the Severn Bridge to the Ironbridge and the Friar Gate Bridge in Derby.
There, they met with local organizations and groups to learn about the bridges’ histories, current uses, and architectural significance. World Monuments Fund Britain Executive Director John Darlington took part in the ride, cycling from Ledbury to Bromyard alongside fellow participants.
Upon finishing at Bennerley Viaduct, riders celebrated the completion of their trek with a gathering organized by the Friends of Bennerley Viaduct. Participants were presented with commemorative Iron to Iron artwork designed by local artist Stephen Millership and a World Monuments Fund cycling musette. In spring 2022, the viaduct will reopen to the public after 53 years of disuse, the result of a decades-long campaign for its preservation and reuse.
Built in 1877 to carry a new railroad line across the River Erewash, Bennerley Viaduct faced the threat of demolition and stood without a function since its closure in 1968. The Friends of Bennerley Viaduct, a local community group, developed a vision to reclaim the hulking structure as part of a nationwide drive to transform disused railway routes into trails and promote local tourism.
The site’s revitalization aims to be a space for the community to appreciate the region’s industrial heritage in its natural landscape and advocates for sustainable and environmentally conscious heritage preservation. A restoration and advocacy project launched after the site’s inclusion on the 2020 Watch helped accelerate this vision.
Championed by local advocates, the revitalization of Bennerley Viaduct has become an excellent example of how community action can bring new life to historic assets.
World Monuments Fund gratefully acknowledges The Robert W. Wilson Charitable Trust, American Express, Railway Paths Ltd, Historic England, the National Lottery Heritage Fund, and the Railway Heritage Trust for their support of Bennerley Viaduct.
Bennerley Viaduct: Building Community Well-being Through Restoration
Learn more about WMF's work at Bennerley Viaduct in this webinar recording.