History made as viaduct opens for first time in 20 years

MP Graham Jones prepares to cut the ribbon to open the Martholme Viaduct with (from left to right)  Great Harwood councillor Noodad Aziz, Rawden Kerr, who is the Great Harwood town crier,  John Barker, chairman of Martholme Greenway and Will Heynes from Sustrans.
MP Graham Jones prepares to cut the ribbon to open the Martholme Viaduct with (from left to right) Great Harwood councillor Noodad Aziz, Rawden Kerr, who is the Great Harwood town crier, John Barker, chairman of Martholme Greenway and Will Heynes from Sustrans.

Campaigners, who fought to have part of a historic viaduct opened for the first time in 20 years, are already looking ahead to the next stage of their scheme.

The Martholme Viaduct, which spans the River Calder and parts of the Ribble Valley, was officially opened on Saturday for public access for the first time since it was closed due to the foot and mouth outbreak in 2001.

The Martholme Viaduct is now officially open to the public after 20 years.

The Martholme Viaduct is now officially open to the public after 20 years.

Over the past six months the viaduct has undergone significant repairs and general tidying up in readiness for the official opening which was performed by Hyndburn MP Graham Jones who praised the Martholme Greenway group, a band of volunteers who have worked tirelessly to make this happen.

He also said how it was important to move forward and complete the link through to Read, Simonstone and Padiham.

This was one of the major milestones set by the Martholme Greenway group towards the creation of a path to link the Padiham Greenway to Great Harwood for walkers, cyclists and horse riders.

This is in addition to the section already in use between Simonstone Lane and Gooseleach wood over at Simonstone, which again has been created by the hard work of the Martholme Greenway volunteers working with Sustrans.

Although this does not create a path to link Read through to Great Harwood it will allow members of the public to admire the views from the viaduct both towards Burnley, Whalley, Accrington and Great Harwood.

John Barker, who is chairman of Martholme Greenway, said: "The opening event was a great success with a good turnout from the public despite the cold weather."

The official opening tops off a huge amount of work carried out by the Martholme Greenway volunteers along with Sustrans and Railway Paths Ltd.

Martholme Greenway has also commissioned the refurbishment of the paths around the area known as the Martholme sidings and pit site which are use to access the viaduct.

The refurbishment of the paths has been funded by grants from the Lancashire Environmental Fund, the Hyndburn Windfall Fund and Tesco bags of help scheme. This has improved the accessibility of the area to walkers, horses, cyclists and disabled users.