Castlefield Viaduct has reopened with a new green space after being closed for winter

A green space in the heart of Manchester is open once again after a winter break – and there’s more going on than ever before at Castlefield Viaduct.

This steel viaduct is something you probably pass by on the tram without knowing, but this hidden gem has been closed for winter hibernation and reopened on Saturday 10 February after a community workshop had been installed there.

The urban sky park has reopened with a new philosophy, a greener space where all are welcome to enjoy the recently installed community workshop, which the National Trust created in partnership with the local organisation Sow the City.

Sow the City have worked extensively on this viaduct, and had even introduced a pond to it, a stark contrast for a viaduct which used to simply be used for carrying heavy rail goods in and out of The Great Northern Warehouse.

Such green workshops allow Mancunians to learn about horticultural skills such as propagation and seeding (using sustainable peat-free oil of course) as well as hot bin composting systems which are a sustainable method of dealing with weeds. DIY activities like this are super handy to have in your arsenal.

By attending a workshop, the Hulme community canopy can teach you to sow items such as Blackcurrant, Kiwi and Cranberry, which will soon be in season and could save you money on expensive fruit.

Located just a stone’s throw away from Deansgate-Castlefield tram stop, this Grade II listed, Victorian viaduct was built 125 years ago by Heenan and Froude, the same engineers who made the Blackpool Tower.

And in 2022, after being closed down since 1969, it was reopened by the National Trust, in order to gauge public opinion, and was part of their project of Urban places work, which is their initiative to get more history, nature and beauty in in urban areas.

The National Trust launched the Castlefield Viaduct Club which invites funding from corporate companies to keep the viaduct open longer, as Manchester City Council has allowed them to keep the bridge open only until autumn 2024. They also want funding for summer events and activities.

And since its reopening last year, an incredible 85,000 people have visited or have benefited from it by engaging in community activities.

The greenspace is equipped with a workbench for wheelchair user, mini greenhouses which house up to ten people, and display unusual varieties of narcissus, camassias, fritillarias and anenomes.

Emma Rogers, head of the Manchester Project, said: “It is really important for people to spend time in nature for their mental well-being. This is one of the few places in the city centre that could do that.

“Additionally, another one of our aims is to bring a community of people closer together, which is also really important for your well-being, and people can do that at our workshops.”

Nancy Scheerhout, National Trust Head Gardener for Castlefield Viaduct, said: “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!”

She has a keen focus on biodiversity, and learned from planting schemes used last year to determine which techniques work best. The garden was placed strategically in the centre of Manchester so they can keep a close eye on these techniques.

Source: Iain Tardis Harrigan

Nancy continues: “Speaking about the programme of workshops, she said: “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.”

And indeed, there are already plans for the space to be used by charities in Greater Manchester whose aim is to better the lives of disadvantaged people.

The grand reopening has made the area of Deansgate-Castlefield even more floral and natural than it already is, as the viaduct is located above what used to be a Roman fortress but is now a beautiful green space.

The Castlefield Forum employed BDP landscape architects who ensured the garden architecturally mirrored its environment, including the Roman Fort, the Victorian Warehouses and the canal, in both colour and shape.

The viaduct itself, which spans 330 metres and towers at 56 feet, is already adorned with four ‘partner plots’ by Hulme Community Garden Centre, City of Trees, Castlefield Forum and Sow the City.

City of Trees compose part of Greater Manchester’s tree-planting movement, and their goal is to plant one tree per citizen within five years, an impressive feat. They grow shrubs, trees and flowers using the same species’ used throughout the industrial revolution.

Hulme community garden centre were founded 20 years ago and give presentations to schools and colleges on sustainability.

Also in on the project is Hamza Rana, whose expertise is social justice. His aim is to make Manchester a more inclusive place for people such as himself from ethnic minorities or any other kind of underrepresented background.

One visitor who visited the viaduct last year, and who asked to remain unnamed, said: “I can’t wait to see what the developments look like. It was fabulous last year in spring and hopefully it will be this year too!”

Manchester/Lancashire based photographer Nigel, who goes by OneSoul1875 on Instagram, said: “I think it’s a really interesting use of industrial space and a proper little hidden gem. I love the little gardens and furniture along the viaduct, it’s a photographer dream. I also loved the curved mirrors at the beginning which give a contrast to the skyscrapers above. I recommend anyone visit it.”

Hairdresser Ian, who owns hairdressing company The Point, said: The rewilding project at Castlefield Viaduct is a spectacular reimagining of this piece of Manchester’s industrial landscape. I can’t wait to re visit in the spring and autumn to see how the colours of the foliage and the planting has developed and evolved.”

All of the X/Twitter users who voted in this poll said they will visit the attraction.

Got to see Castlefield Viaduct on a nice day. Great to see how it looks now its up and running.

♬ original sound – mattkliszcz

There are 171 viaducts like this one scattered across the UK, 15 of which are in Greater Manchester. Below is a map of all the ones in England. Click on them to see their average rating.

This viaduct will be part of the city-wide Bloomtown Blossom Trail, which shows off some of the best places to see blossom in Manchester, Salford and Trafford. This self-led trail will be making a comeback in April, and the viaduct is taking this advantage to show off its floral arrangement of blackthorn, rowan and hawthorn.

The pilot cost £1.8 million, which was funded by People’s Postcode Lottery, as well as donations from individuals, trusts and foundations and corporate companies.

The site opened this Saturday at 12pm and will remain open every afternoon from 12.30pm and all day on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday.

Bookable guided talks, which discuss the history of the viaduct, take place on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays between 10.30am and 12 at midday.

Local groups and communities to get in touch at [email protected].

To find out more about Castlefield Viaduct, visit:

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