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 2 listed structure into a green oasis filled with trees, plants, and flowers.
The viaduct was built by Heenan & Froude in 1892, the same engineers who created the Blackpool Tower. It was used to transport heavy rail traffic between the Manchester Central railway station and the former Manchester Central railway station.
The station was shut down in 1969. Since then, the viaduct has been abandoned. National Highways undertakes essential repairs and maintains it safely.
National Trust gardeners plant at Castlefield Viaduct, 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 the public will be inspired and influenced by the views of the community and visitors to the Grade II-listed structure.
Hilary McGrady was the director-general at 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.
One 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