The official opening date of Manchester‘s New York-inspired ‘sky park’ at Castlefield Viaduct has now finally been confirmed.
After the National Trust announced its ambitious vision to create an urban green space in the heart of the city centre by tackling the challenge of “greening” the Grade II-listed Castlefield Viaduct and celebrate the history of this well-known landmark, it has now been revealed that visitors will be able to enjoy the park from next weekend.
Construction company MC Construction, Twelve Architects, and four local partners have been working with gardening specialists and apprentices at the National Trust to create the new park – with thousands of plants, shrubs, and trees having been planted over the past five months.
Now, less than half a year after work began to transform the giant 330-metre steel viaduct into an elevated park, the finishing touches are being made.
The temporary urban park at Castlefield Viaduct will open to the public on Saturday 30 July.
The park will be or the next 12 months, with green spaces stretching across the elevation, and during this time, visitors will have the opportunity to explore part of the structure and find out more about the viaduct’s heritage, the city’s long relationship with plants and trees, and learn urban gardening tips.
You’ll also get to experience a variety of planting displays as you walk along the viaduct while enjoying the elevated setting above the historic cobbled streets, according to the National Trust, and see the park “develop, evolve, and respond” with the changing seasons.
The plans for Castlefield Viaduct are part of the National Trust’s work to “increase access” for everyone to nature, history and beauty in, around, and near urban areas.
The Castlefield Viaduct dates back to 1892 and was built by Heenan and Froude – the same engineers who worked on Blackpool Tower – but the site closed in the late 1960s, and before the National Trust took over and began to add over 3,000 plants, shrubs, trees, and more, it had sadly been left derelict.
The industrial heritage of Castlefield has been reflected through all elements of the design of the park.
The National Trust says the design of the planters at the new park gives “a subtle nod” to the industrial architecture of the viaduct, and mirrors the curve of the railway tracks that once transported goods across the structure to the Great Northern Warehouse.
A section of the viaduct has also been left untouched to “provide a sense of how nature has reclaimed the space” since the site closed.
Speaking ahead of the park officially opening to the public next Saturday, Andy Jasper – National Head of Gardens & Parklands at the National Trust – said: “Creating a garden on an industrial heritage structure such as this is new territory for us and we have created a test bed that represents how the park in the sky might be, if the people of Manchester want it.
“With more than 3,000 individual plants planted in completely peat free growing media over the past couple of months, we’ve been literally trialling new planting techniques as we go – working with limited growing depths and thinking about how these plants will deal with the more challenging conditions of being 17 metres in the air.
“I cannot wait to see what people say, and I am intrigued to see how the plant life will take in its new surroundings.”
Duncan Laird – Head of Urban Places at the National Trust – added: “This has been an intensely busy few months as we prepared to open the doors of the pilot project, and we are incredibly excited to finally be able to open this space for people to visit for the first time in over 50 years.
“As the trees and plants start to bed in and grow it will slowly begin to match the vision for this space, and we will be keenly listening to visitor feedback that we will use to shape the ongoing evolution of the viaduct.
“We’re at the start of the journey – not the end.”
100 people a day will be able to visit the Castlefield Viaduct from Saturday 30 July.
Entry onto the structure will be free, but a booking system will be in place to help manage numbers, and as part of the experience, visitors will be able to join guided walks – with plans to host various community events, workshops, and consultations in the pipeline.
Featured Image – Howard Bristol (via National Trust)
Icelandic airline offering incredible Northern Lights holiday experience including hotel, breakfast and tours
Icelandair, the nation’s principal airline and proud flag carrier is offering an incredible package to holiday-goers this winter by giving them a chance to book their flights, hotel, breakfast, multiple unique tours and the opportunity to see the Northern Lights all in one affordable deal.
With the Northern Lights being one of the most magical tourist attractions in the world, its popularity only increases by the year and, as a result, so does the cost of going to see it.
That’s where Icelandair come in: the flight operator is offering Brits an amazing new package centred around the legendary natural light display at a discount. Trust us, you seriously want to consider snapping up this one whilst you can.
From this week, Icelandair is offering UK travellers a special package deal which includes a three-night holiday with return flights, a hotel room with breakfast and three unique and unforgettable Icelandic tours for just £459 per person.
This deal will see holidaymakers board an Icelandair economy flight from either London, Glasgow or Manchester Airport to the nation’s beautiful capital of Reykjavik, with a complimentary 23kg checked bag allowance, plus a 10kg in hand luggage allowance, your choice when it comes to where you want to seat, seat, on-board refreshments and a personal in-flight entertainment system.
For your accommodation, you’ll be staying at the four-star Hotel Island Spa and Wellness Resort, located right near the centre of Reykjavik and treated to breakfast every morning for two adults sharing a room. And then you get to make the most of what the country’s incredible landscape.
Onto the main event of your holiday: Icelandair’s Northern Lights experience is a breathtaking three-to-four-hour tour that allows you to see the glory of the incredible natural phenomenon with your own eyes.
As for the FlyOver Iceland tour, this unique experience is the ultimate flying ride which utilizes state-of-the-art technology to give you the exhilarating feeling of flight. During this virtual journey, you’ll experience the more remote but no less spectacular areas of Iceland through motion, wind, sound and even scents.
Last but not certainly least, you have the lava show, which is one of the top-rated attractions anywhere in Scandinavia, receiving numerous awards for innovation and educational value. You literally get to watch as they recreate a volcanic eruption and allow you to safely experience hot lava in close proximity.
Once again, all this is yours to enjoy from just £459 per person. We believe the phrase you’re looking for is ‘value for money’.
Available right now until 4 October 2023, you can book to travel to see Iceland and the Northern Lights from November 2023 right up until March 2024.
You book your flights HERE and find out more information about this incredible package via the Icelandair website.
After the team at home security experts ADT decided to do some research into the best places in the country for those looking to raise a family, Trafford has made it into the top 10.
The Greater Manchester borough has earned seventh place on the list after a number of factors were analysed for the research – including the quality of the local schools, the general safety of the area, and the number of parks within walking distance.
The top 10 most family-friendly areas in the UK
Crime Rate Per 1,000 People, Year ending March 2023
Burglary Rate Per 1,000 People, Year ending March 2023
Average number of Parks, Public Gardens, or Playing Fields within a 1,000 m radius
Percentage of Oustanding and Good Rated Schools and Colleges
Median House Price, Year Ending Dec 2022
Cost of a single bus fare, adult
Family Safety Score /10
Waltham Forest in London takes the top spot for the most family-friendly area in the UK, according to the research, as it ranked within the top 15 for both the lowest crime and burglary rates, and also ranked seventh for schools – with 82.8% having a “good” or higher rating from OFSTED.
Kirkless in West Yorkshire took second place, followed by Havering, Bexley, and Bromley all rounding out the top five.
As well as Kirklees placing second and Trafford being in the seventh spot, the Wirral and Newcastle-upon-Tyne are also fellow northern representatives within the top 10.
Sadly, on the other end of the spectrum, the least family-friendly area in the UK was found to be Birmingham, according to ADT’s research, as despite the average house price being £221,000, with a crime rate of 141 per 1,000 people, and a family safety score of just 2.5/10, the Midlands city takes the bottom spot.
On a more positive note though, when it comes the postcode area with the lowest crime rate in the UK, the North West is representing once again, as this has come out as CW12 3 in Cheshire East.