Finding a future for the Castlefield Viaduct

Published : Wed 31st Aug

For several years, local people and organisations in the community have been passionate about finding a future for Castlefield Viaduct – a mighty 330 metre steel viaduct built in 1892. We’re excited to be working with them to bring this Grade II listed viaduct back into use, 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 about increasing access to parks and green spaces so that more people are in easy reach of quiet places with wide open skies.

The 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 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 culture and heritage, sitting alongside iconic Manchester venues including the Science and Industry Museum, and The Factory.

Taking the first step

The first phase of this ambitious project opened this summer with the launch of a temporary urban park. This is where we’ll test ideas and invite visitors to tell us what they think Castlefield Viaduct should be in the future.

We’re delivering this year-long pilot 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.

Within half of the viaduct, we’ve created a temporary urban park with trees and flowers planted to attract wildlife. Our four partners, Urban Wilderness, the Science and Industry Museum, City of Trees, and Castlefield Forum have also created their own unique garden areas on the viaduct.

Visitors can find out more about the viaduct's heritage, the city's relationship with plants and trees, and pick up some urban gardening tips along the way. Stepping into a covered space, visitors can stop and look out across an untouched part of the viaduct to imagine what its future could look like and share their views and ideas.

A project with huge possibilities

After the testing phase we hope to consolidate all of the learnings, ideas and visitor feedback into a longer-term solution for the future of Castlefield Viaduct. The aim of the project will be to provide a cultural, heritage and greenspace amenity in the heart of the city: a place that the people of Manchester can use and benefit from well into the future.

Watch the video to see how we imagined the viaduct to look during the initial temporary urban park phase.