A view of Castlefield Viaduct in Manchester - home to Manchester's sky garden, cared for by The National Trust. Credit: National Trust Images and Annapurna Mellor.
A view of Castlefield Viaduct in Manchester - home to Manchester's sky garden, cared for by The National Trust. Credit: National Trust Images and Annapurna Mellor.

Manchester sky park to stay open until 2024

5 min


Project extension to next summer announced by top heritage charity

Supporters of a Manchester based project are celebrating following the news that the city’s sky park will remain open until end of summer 2024 – marking the first birthday of this ‘temporary garden.’

Visitors will be able to enjoy Manchester’s sky park until autumn 2024. And hopes for the site’s future are receiving a significant boost with plans to continue to fundraise for it.

The Castlefield Viaduct project has now received an extension by Manchester City Council.

The temporary green space has revitalised an unused Victorian era railway viaduct and is a firm favourite with locals and visitors alike.

The scheme was made possible thanks to players of the People’s Postcode Lottery. The site recently celebrated its first birthday.

The conservation charity announcing the appointment of landscape architects from Manchester based design practice, BDP, to ‘develop bigger, bolder plans for the next phase of the viaduct, for which funding is still required.’

It’s expected BDP will work with the Trust, partners and the community.

‘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,’ says Duncan Laird, Head of Urban Places at the National Trust.

‘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.’

Passion about bringing ‘nature and beauty’ to urban areas

‘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.’

‘Castlefield Viaduct is a place like no other and it is fantastic to be working with the National Trust to bring to life a vision for the space that reaches far beyond its perceived potential,’ says James Millington, Landscape Architect Director at BDP.

‘Over the last year, the viaduct has become a genuine city detour that inspires a diverse range of people and ages with a range of ideas, installations, and artistic interventions.’

‘It is a landscape-led approach that creates a new city garden, breathes new life into the lungs of the city and gives us the opportunity to enhance the space for nature and beauty.’

‘As we develop our concepts further with the community, we know it will become a place which drives and reflects the success of Greater Manchester.’

‘We will be supercharging the attributes of this great piece of Victorian engineering to create a vibrant, people-focused experience that leaves a smile on the face of all who visit.’

The gardens will remain as a set of 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.

It’s been one year since the gardens at Manchester’s sky garden on Manchester Viaduct were opened. Photo credit: Annapurna Mellor and National Trust Images.

‘Designed and grown by community organisations’

The seasonal displays are a mix of National Trust planting and plots designed and grown by community organisations.

The aim is to seek to inspire visitors to contribute their ideas of what they would like the space to become in the future – through surveys and leaving feedback. 

‘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,’ says Kate Picker, Castlefield Viaduct Visitor Operations and Experience Manager.

‘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 Department for Transport and Historical Railways Estate has helped to ensure the sky garden can remain open.

‘It’s been our pleasure and privilege to play a part in resurrecting this stunning structure,’ says Helene Rossiter, National Highways’ Head of Historical Railways Estate Programme.

‘We share the National Trust’s ambition to transform it into an urban park and meeting place that connects the local community with nature and Manchester’s rich history.’

‘Bringing Castlefield viaduct back to life after many decades of maintaining it and keeping it safe reinforces our commitment to working with others to repurpose structures for future use wherever possible, and we’re delighted to see it flourishing.’

The goal of creating a long term green future for Castlefield Viaduct

The pilot scheme has been made possible thanks to funding from Postcode Earth Trust supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery, as well as gifts from individuals and organisations.

Donations, both large and small, are needed to help create a long-term green future for Castlefield Viaduct.

‘We’re also really looking forward to continuing our huge range of events on the viaduct,’ continues Kate Picker.

‘So far we’ve had everything from theatre productions to yoga classes. Coming up we’ve got a student photography exhibition and family seed planting workshops and there’ll be more planned for later this year and into 2024.’

‘By this time next year, we hope to have received significant financial and partnership support to take forward a permanent scheme on this site, building on everything we’ve heard throughout the pilot project.’

‘Until then, we’re encouraging everyone to enjoy the gardens and support the project through their own ideas and donations.’

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