Our vision for Castlefield viaduct

Castlefield viaduct

Working in collaboration with the city of Manchester to help find a future for Castlefield viaduct.

We are in the early stages of a project to bring this Grade II listed viaduct back into use, transforming it into a green oasis created by and for the benefit of local people. 

A brief history of Castlefield viaduct 

This 330m long viaduct sits in the oldest part of the city – Castlefield. It’s an area steeped in rich history. Castlefield is the site of Manchester’s Roman origins, the world’s first passenger railway, and was the terminus for the Bridgewater Canal, the world’s first industrial canal. 

Built in 1892 and constructed by Heenan and Froude, the engineers who worked on the iconic Blackpool Tower, the viaduct was used to carry heavy rail traffic in and out of Manchester Central railway station (now the Manchester Central Convention Complex). It stayed in use until 1969 when Central Station closed. 

As the city of Manchester has continued to grow, the viaduct has stood unused and unchanged with only the essential repairs and maintenance carried out. 

It’s now time for the viaduct to reclaim its place in this vibrant city, celebrating its part in Manchester’s past, present and future. 

Finding a future for the viaduct 

For several years, local people and organisations in the community have been passionate about finding a future for Castlefield viaduct. We’re excited to be working with them to try to make this a reality. 

As a charity committed to protecting nature, beauty and history, our work covers everywhere from remote islands and nature reserves to urban heritage and city parks. Our work in, around and near urban areas is about giving more people the opportunity to enjoy the health and wellbeing benefits of green, nature-rich parks and gardens.

The vision is to transform Castlefield viaduct into a free-to-access park and meeting place for people and nature. Imagine a hidden oasis sitting above this busy city. It will be a space that respects the listed structure, celebrates the nature, beauty and history of the viaduct, and fits in with existing plans for the city. As well as bringing people closer to nature in the city, it will be a stepping stone to other South Manchester green spaces and attractions on foot or bike. The viaduct will take its place in this vibrant area for cultural and heritage, sitting alongside iconic Manchester venues including the Science and Industry Museum and The Factory.

An artist impression showing how the viaduct could look

©Twelve Architects & Masterplanners

An artist impression showing what the viaduct could look like with planting

©Twelve Architects & Masterplanners

An artist impression showing what the viaduct could look like with planting

©Twelve Architects & Masterplanners

An artist impression showing what this green oasis above Castlefield could look like

©Twelve Architects & Masterplanners

Video

Watch our fly-through video

See what the viaduct could look like in summer 2022 when we plan to transform it into a temporary urban park above Manchester to test some ideas and get your feedback.

Next steps 

We’re delighted that our temporary planning application to open the viaduct in summer 2022 as a temporary park to test ideas and get some feedback was given the green light by Manchester City Council in November 2021.

In 2021, we invited the public to share their thoughts and give feedback on our plans to open the viaduct as a temporary urban park. We were encouraged by the positive response we received with so many people sharing our excitement about the potential benefits the viaduct could have on the area and those who live locally. We'd like to say a big thank you to all those who took part - this feedback has helped us to shape our plans and thinking. You can read our summary of feedback from the consultation here.

We’re still in conversation with a number of key organisations whose support we need to make this a reality for Manchester, but we’re looking forward to sharing more news on our plans and progress in 2022. 

Working together to make it happen

We are working with a range of people across the city and nationally. We have had support from Castlefield Forum and the Science and Industry Museum to begin to explore options. 

We want to create this project with other organisations, local businesses, members of the community and under-represented groups. Most importantly, we want to take this forward with you - watch this space for more information. 

To turn these ideas and plans into reality we'll also need support from fundraising, donations and corporate sponsors.