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Manchester landmark new home for ‘green oasis’ in the sky

The 330-metre structure, built in 1892, has been transformed into an urban sky park (Annapurna Mellor/National Trust/PA)
The 330-metre structure, built in 1892, has been transformed into an urban sky park (Annapurna Mellor/National Trust/PA)

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

Five months ago work began to transform the giant 330-metre steel Grade II listed structure into a green oasis with trees, plants and flowers.

Built in 1892 and constructed by Heenan and Froude, the engineers who worked on the famous Blackpool Tower, the viaduct was used to carry heavy rail traffic in and out of the former Manchester Central railway station.

The station closed in 1969 and the viaduct has since stood disused, with National Highways undertaking essential repairs and regular maintenance to keep it safe.

National Trust’s urban project at Manchester Viaduct
National Trust gardeners planting at the Castlefield Viaduct in Manchester (Annapurna Mellor/National Trust/PA)

From Saturday July 30, the new-look historic landmark featuring more than 3,000 plants will be available to visit for the next 12 months.

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 to inspire and capture visitor and community opinions to help shape the longer-term future of the Grade II listed structure.

Hilary McGrady, director-general of the National Trust, said: “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 Trust’s urban project at Manchester Viaduct
One hundred people a day will be able to visit the viaduct (Annapurna Mellor/National Trust/PA)

“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.

One hundred people a day will be able to visit the viaduct. Entry will be free but a booking system will be in place.

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