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Our work at Castlefield Viaduct

A computer generated image of what Castlefield Viaduct could look like in the future showing lush greenery and people exploring the gardens
Global Garden area as featured in the Vision for Castlefield Viaduct | © BDP

We’re working with the city of Manchester to breathe new life into the Victorian viaduct in Castlefield, transforming it into an urban park created by and for the benefit of local people. Discover our vision for the viaduct and keep up to date with our progress here.

Finding a future for the viaduct

For many years, local people and organisations have worked to find a future for Castlefield Viaduct in Manchester – a 330-metre steel viaduct, built in 1892 and closed in 1969. We’re excited to be working with them to bring this Grade II listed viaduct back to life, transforming it into an urban park created by and for the benefit of local people.

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 focused on increasing access to parks and green spaces, so that more people are in easy reach of quiet places with wide open skies.

Phase one: a temporary urban park

The first phase of this ambitious project has been the launch of a temporary urban park on the viaduct, where we’ve tested ideas and invited visitors to share their ideas for the Viaduct’s future.

Launched in July 2022, the pilot has been delivered in collaboration with National Highways Historical Railways Estate Team, supported by Manchester City Council, Greater Manchester Combined Authority, Transport for Greater Manchester and the local community, businesses and supporters.

Costing £1.8 million, this part of the project has been made possible thanks to private donations and support received from players of People’s Postcode Lottery.

Working with local partners

As part of the first phase of the project, we created a temporary urban park covering half of the viaduct’s deck, working with four local partners at a time – currently Hulme Garden Centre, Sow The City, City of Trees and Castlefield Forum – to create unique garden areas within the park for visitors to explore.

Visitors are also able to learn more about the viaduct’s history, the city’s relationship with plants and trees, and pick up some urban gardening tips along the way.

In July 2023, we announced the temporary pilot project garden would stay open until summer 2024.

The vision for Castlefield Viaduct

The long-term vision is to transform Castlefield Viaduct into a free-to-access park and meeting place for people and nature. It will be a space that respects the listed structure, celebrates the nature, beauty and history of the viaduct, and complements existing plans for the city.

In addition to bringing people closer to nature in the city, the viaduct will be a stepping stone to other green spaces and cultural attractions in South Manchester, accessible by foot or bike – sitting alongside iconic venues such as the Science and Industry Museum and The Factory.

In July 2023, we appointed BDP, Deco Publique, Smiling Wolf and Mott MacDonald who worked with the Trust, partners and the community to develop bigger, bolder plans for the possible next phase of the viaduct and later that year we commissioned them to develop a future vision for the site with the ideas and opinions they had gathered.

In June 2024, we revealed these plans. The ‘Vision,’ is a direct response to public feedback from viaduct visitors and the local community who took part in the workshops, events and an online survey in autumn 2023. Plans include several entry and exit points to the viaduct, a walkway giving access towards Salford and Trafford, more places on the viaduct to sit, relax and take in the views of the city, and pop-up spaces for community activities and events.

The National Trust is now actively seeking investors and funders to support the plans and secure the viaduct's future.

Phase two: the extension

The ambitious 'vision' plans for the viaduct are being approached by the Trust and its partners in distinct phases, with work on the extension of the sky park, termed ‘Phase 2’, expected to start in 2025 . This could increase the scale of the sky park experience for visitors from 120 metres to the full 330 metre length of the historic structure. Currently, visitors to the viaduct walk through a series of spaces and gardens before coming to a glass wall where the untouched section of the viaduct can be seen. It’s this untouched section of the viaduct which the Trust and its partners are turning their attention to next.

As part of the Phase 2 viaduct designs, the National Trust is looking into a second entry and exit point towards Mancunian Way to improve access and allow more people to visit. Other features could include winding paths to encourage people to slow down and take time out from the busy city beneath them, as well as a series of viewing points and planted areas.

A new addition being introduced to the Viaduct in 2025 is WaterAid's Gold medal-winning garden from this year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show, designed by architect Je Ahn and landscape designer Tom Massey. The centrepiece of the thought-provoking design is a planted rainwater harvesting pavilion, which filters and stores rainfall for irrigation, while also slowing the flow of heavy downpours and providing shade. The structure was inspired by WaterAid’s work alongside communities around the world to develop relevant and sustainable clean water solutions and build resilience to climate change.

Designs and proposals are expected to be submitted for planning application in late summer 2024 with the charity actively seeking funders and investors to help bring these plans to fruition in 2025.

Supporters of the Castlefield Viaduct project

It’s thanks to vital funding from the People’s Postcode Lottery that we’re able to transform Castlefield Viaduct for the benefit of people and nature.

Laura Chow, Head of Charities at People’s Postcode Lottery, said: ‘Having access to green spaces and being able to connect with nature has such a huge impact on our wellbeing, so I’m delighted funding raised by our players is helping bring this to Manchester’s city centre and breathing life into this iconic piece of the city’s heritage at the same time.’

Private donations

We’d also like to thank those individuals who have contributed to the project so far. As a charity, we depend on donations to help us carry out vital conservation work and revive special places like Castlefield Viaduct. Funds raised for this project will go towards delivering the first stage of the project and enable us to continue planning for the future of the viaduct.

To find out more about supporting the project, visit the ‘About’ section on the Castlefield Viaduct homepage.

Donate to Castlefield Viaduct

Help keep the viaduct growing by donating today and you could be funding some spectacular spring bulbs or a cuppa for a local community group.


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