Manchester landmark new home for ‘green oasis’The sky is the limit

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The transformation of Manchester’s Castlefield Viaduct into an urban sky park will be complete next week when it opens to the public.

Work began in earnest five months ago to transform the massive 330-metre steel Grade I listed structure into an oasis of trees, plants, and flowers.

Constructed by Heenan, Froude, engineers who built the Blackpool Tower, this viaduct was constructed in 1892. It was used for heavy rail traffic to and from the Manchester Central railway station.

In 1969, the station was closed and the viaduct is now disused. National Highways has been responsible for essential repairs and maintenance to ensure its safety.

National Trustu2019s urban project at Manchester ViaductNational Trust gardeners plant at Castlefield Viaduct in Manchester. (Annapurna Mellor/National Trust/PA).PA Media – Annapurna Mellor/National Trust

For the next twelve months, the landmark will be open to visitors starting on Saturday July 30. It features over 3,000 plants.

The project is part of the National Trust’s Urban Places work to increase access for all to nature, history and beauty in, around and near urban areas.

The conservation charity hopes that it will inspire and capture community opinions in order to shape the long-term future for the Grade II listed structure.

Hilary McGrady is the director-general for the National Trust. “The idea of transforming the viaduct has been around for a while, but it was always put in the ‘too hard to achieve box’ and set aside.

“For that long-held vision to finally come to life is therefore testament to the strong partnerships we have formed and the hard work of so many.

National Trustu2019s urban project at Manchester ViaductOne hundred people a day will be able to visit the viaduct (Annapurna Mellor/National Trust/PA)PA Media – Annapurna Mellor/National Trust

“What I love about this space is that it encapsulates so much of what the trust’s work is about: opening up our shared heritage for everyone to enjoy, creating beautiful spaces and bringing people closer to nature.

“It’s about creating something new for the community, while also protecting an iconic piece of industrial history.

“We hope hundreds of people will visit and enjoy spending time in nature among the trees, shrubs and wildlife that is already starting to make this space its home.”

Costing £1.8 million, the 12-month pilot phase has been made possible thanks to funding raised by players of People’s Postcode Lottery, as well as public donations which will cover two-thirds of the build costs.

The viaduct will be open to one hundred visitors per day. The entry fee is free, but there will be a booking system.

For further details, visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/castlefield-viaduct

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