Travel & Tourism
Manchester’s urban sky park Castlefield Viaduct set to reopen with new spaces
The Grade II-listed Victorian Viaduct is on its way back.
The National Trust is readying to reopen Manchester’s sky park Castlefield Viaduct this weekend.
The beautiful green space, built on top of the Grade II-listed viaduct with staggering views across Manchester city centre, has been closed for a short time while a new community workshop space was built.
The 330m steel Victoria viaduct is now readying to welcome back visitors from Saturday 10 February.
The elevated sky park has been open since July 2022 as a temporary pilot project, though the National Trust is hoping to make the project a permanent attraction for Manchester.
Since its launch, it’s welcomed more than 85,000 visitors, some through community activities in and around the city.
The charity has worked on transforming the previously-abandoned Castlefield Viaduct to increase access for all to nature, history and beauty in urban areas.
With its new workshop space, created with Sow the City, members of the public will be able to have a go at green-thumbed activities and learn horticultural skills like seed sowing and propogation.
The workshop has a huge workbench that can be modified for wheelchair users, mini greenhouses, soil, water and power.
Nancy Scheerhout, National Trust Head Gardener for Castlefield Viaduct, says: “We’re delighted to have worked with our partners, Sow the City, to bring this new workshop space to the viaduct.
“It will provide us and our community partners with a dedicated area to get more people involved in, and benefitting from, green activities. We’ve made the space as sociable and hands-on as possible, and we have plans to add interactive compost that people can see and hear!
“As a conservation charity dedicated to connecting more people with nature, we know the importance of increasing simple and everyday interactions with nature to enrich lives. Offering ‘green workshops’ and activities in the space, alongside our partners and friends, we can encourage small space growing in the city.
“It’s a great opportunity to grow people’s confidence and skills in creating their own greenspace, improving the environment, their wellbeing, and their skillset in the process.”
Jon Ross, Chief Executive of Sow the City, says: “We’re passionate about enabling more people to get involved with growing, engaging with urban nature and learning new skills and this space will support the communities we work with to do just that.
“This is the second space on the viaduct we’ve been involved with designing and installing, and we can’t wait to see people using the space and have a go ourselves!”
The rest of Castlefield Viaduct features four ‘partner plots’ operated by Hulme Community Garden Centre, City of Trees, Castlefield Forum and Sow the City.
The gardens have been planted to created year-round flora displays, and upcoming events will include the return of the city-wide ‘Bloomtown’ blossom trail this spring.
Nancy continues: “As we head into our second spring on the viaduct, we’ve learned so much from this unique urban site and have developed our planting schemes for 2024 with those in mind. Planting at height, in the middle of a city centre, and in steel containers, means the team and I keep a close check on how things are bedding in and how life on the viaduct is evolving.
“We’re excited to welcome the public back and showcase great horticulture. For me, a garden only truly comes to life with people in it and engaging with nature. We’re looking forward to the many joys of spring.”
Entry onto Castlefield Viaduct will remain free when it reopens to the public this weekend. Members of the public can visit, without booking, every afternoon from 12.30pm and all day on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday.
There’s space for up to 10 people in the new community workshop, and local groups and communities are invited to reach out by emailing [email protected] to book their spot.
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Featured image: Mark Waugh