Visitors will be able to enjoy Manchester’s sky park until autumn 2024 after the National Trust has been granted an extension by Manchester City Council to the popular Castlefield Viaduct project. The temporary green space, that has revitalised an unused Victorian era railway viaduct, is already a firm favourite with locals, people from across Greater Manchester and tourists visiting the city since it opened last summer.
The announcement has been made just before the project’s first birthday on July 30 with the conservation charity also announcing the appointment of landscape architects BDP. The Manchester-based design practice will work with the Trust, partners and the community to develop bigger, bolder plans for the next phase of the viaduct, for which funding is still required.
Last year saw The National Trust transform the disused viaduct into a stunning new green space for city dwellers, with a similar approach to New York’s famous High Line. The elevated garden has provided a much-needed slice of nature for Mancs, with a variety of stunning plants and flowers completely taking over the space and giving it a whole new lease of life.
Duncan Laird, Head of Urban Places at the National Trust, said: “We’re delighted to be staying open for another year so we can continue to provide visitors with moments of joy and build momentum to create a future for this fantastic place. As we enter this next phase of the project, we can start to truly understand what this space could become – and how it can serve future generations.
“This won’t happen without big investment however, and we hope BDP can help us create a vision for this space to reflect ambitious plans for the city that investors want to be part of. Bringing nature and beauty to the centre of urban areas is something that we are passionate about. We want to bring more nature, beauty and history to urban areas as we know the benefits it can bring in terms of health, wellbeing, community and placemaking.”
The gardens – a mix of National Trust planting and plots designed and grown by community organisations – will remain as temporary ‘installations’ while the National Trust continue to gather feedback and fundraise in efforts to create a permanent feature on the 330-metre steel, Grade II listed, viaduct. The seasonal displays aim to inspire visitors to contribute their ideas of what they would like the space to become in the future – through surveys and leaving feedback.
Kate Picker, Castlefield Viaduct Visitor Operations and Experience Manager, said: “The gardens are buzzing with bees and butterflies enjoying the plentiful nectar provided by the wildflowers and buddlias on the wilder parts of the viaduct and pollinator-friendly globe shaped echinops and brightly coloured cranesbill, lythrum and achillea will all be flowering over the next few weeks in our planters. Soon exotic heydichium and eucomis, also known as ‘pineapple flowers’, will be bursting into bloom adding to this midsummer garden of delights.
“This is already a much-loved place on Manchester’s cultural landscape and there will be different ways to experience the viaduct in the coming year.”
The Trust has also announced a number of new events happening at the Viaduct, including two new series starting this month. Wednesday At One Talks are a chance for visitors to hear from experts on a particular aspect of the viaduct project and the National Trust’s work. Sundowners are a whole host of evening performances that showcase local talent while the sun sets. Family trails will also run during the summer school holidays and many more activities are planned throughout the summer months.
Entry onto the viaduct remains free. You can book for a guided visit between 11am to 12.30pm every day except Wednesdays, to find out more about the history of the site. To explore the garden at your own pace just walk up, without any need to book, every afternoon from 1pm to 3.30pm.