Bennerley 'Iron Giant' viaduct reopens after £1.7m repairs

ITV News Central's Rajiv Popat reports on the so-called 'Iron Giant' reopening after 50 years

A Victorian railway bridge has finally reopened to the public, having stood derelict for more than 50 years.

The Bennerley Viaduct - affectionately known as the 'Iron Giant' - spans the Erewash valley linking Derbyshire with Nottinghamshire. It was completed in 1877.

However, as part of the 1968 Beeching cuts the bridge was closed, and has since fallen into disrepair.

Since 2014 efforts have been underway to repair the 150-year-old building - with the cost of repairs totalling £1.7 million.

On Thursday, visitors were welcomed back for the first time in more than 50 years to the bridge, which will be accessible to both walkers and cyclists.

A formal ceremony to open the Grade II listed structure will occur later this year.

"There's a lot of affection for it, locally," Jeff Wynch, who leads the Friends of Bennerley viaduct group, told ITV Central.

"Many people would have travelled over the viaduct...there was a passenger service from Nottingham to Derby. "

"People have those memories," he said.

People living nearby are excited to see the historic structure open too.

"I think it's brilliant," one local resident told ITV Central. "Brilliant that it's open again."

"We shall use it a couple of times a week, running across it," she said.

Another described the 443 meter long bridge as a "wonder."

"It's a feat of engineering," she said.

The Railway Heritage Trust (RHT) donated £560,000 to renovate the viaduct, which was the only UK structure featured on the 2020 World Monuments Watch list.