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)
Eurovision 2023 grand final to be screened live in cinemas across the UK
The grand final of the Eurovision Song Contest is to be screened live in cinemas across the UK for the first time ever.
With fans from across the globe set to descend on Liverpool in a couple of months time as the UK hosts the 2023 edition of the world’s biggest song competition on behalf of last year’s winners Ukraine, those who weren’t lucky enough to secure tickets will instead by able to head to their nearest cinema to experience the action on the big screen.
Distributor CinemaLive has announced it will be broadcasting the Eurovision grand final show live in cinemas nationwide for the first time ever.
It means that Eurovision fans up and down the country who missed out on grabbing tickets to the final – which sold out in under 40 minutes after going on sale earlier this month – will be able to come together to celebrate what is set to be the “biggest, brightest, boldest music party of the year”.
500 cinemas across the UK, including several here in Greater Manchester, will be screening the grand final on Saturday 13 May.
Vue, Odeon, Cineworld, and Everyman are just some of the cinema chains taking part.
Vue Manchester Printworks, Odeon Great Northern, and Everyman Manchester are the Manchester city centre venues lined-up to screen the event – with cinemas in the The Lowry Outlet Mall, Trafford Centre, Didsbury, Heaton Moor, Ashton-under-Lyne, Bolton, and more also set to welcome Eurovision fans through their doors.
Event organisers say the screenings will encourage singalongs and fancy dress.
“We’re delighted to be working with the BBC to bring Eurovision’s grand final live into cinemas across the UK for the first time ever,” said John Travers from CinemaLive.
“We want audiences to enjoy themselves, so get your fancy dress on, and come together to enjoy this historic occasion on the big screen.”
With an illustrious entertainment career spanning over four decades, O’Grady may have been most well-known and loved by British audiences as a comedian, presenter, broadcaster, actor, writer, and the former drag queen Lily Savage – but he was also one of the nation’s most-famous dog lovers and animal rights advocates.
O’Grady was a longtime supporter and Ambassador of Battersea Dogs & Cats Home, and helped raise the profile of the shelter to millions around the world through the hugely-popular ITV series Paul O’Grady: For The Love of Dogs.
Battersea says there’s “no doubting” that O’Grady’s influence has helped thousands of rescue animals find new homes over the years.
Over several series of the show, O’Grady would make an effort to spend quality time with these animals and show-off all of their quirks and loveable qualities, which went a long way to proving that rescue animals “really are the best pets”.
Paying an emotional tribute to O’Grady following his passing today, Peter Laurie – Chief Executive of Battersea – said: “To many, Paul O’Grady was the immensely popular TV and radio presenter and comedian who lit up their screens with his razor-sharp humour and perpetual generosity and warmth [but] Battersea will forever remember Paul as a devoted animal lover with the biggest heart, who fell head over heels in love with every dog he met at our centres.
“Paul will always be associated with Battersea and we are truly saddened to have lost such a true friend and huge part of our charity.
“Paul had an extremely hands on approach as a Battersea Ambassador and has been fundamental in helping our charity to communicate important campaign messages.
“He was a champion for the underdog and would do anything to ensure all animals live a healthy and happy life.
“He will be dearly missed.”
Since the news of O’Grady’s passing was announced, touching tributes have been pouring in in their hundreds from right across the world of entertainment and on social media.
Countless famous names have shared supportive messages and memories.
Emotional tributes to O’Grady have been flooding in all morning, both from those who knew and had worked with him in the past, and from those who admired his work and all that he achieved and had stood for throughout his respected career.