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Castlefield Viaduct: Sky park

Manchester, United Kingdom




5 months




United Kingdom
Project achievements

Environment benefitted

Up to 3,000 plants have been bedded in along the viaduct

Area improved

Provides a green space in an urban area


Brings life back into the Grade II listed viaduct

Transforming a disused Grade II listed viaduct into an urban oasis

The Grade II listed Castlefield Viaduct stands 17m above the Castlefield canal basin, extending some 300 metres over an area steeped in engineering history.

It was built in 1892 by Heenan and Froude, the engineers who worked on the iconic Blackpool Tower.

Castlefield Viaduct used to carry the heavy rail traffic in and out of the of the former Manchester Central railway station.

For over 70 years it was an essential element of the city’s integral transport infrastructure, until its eventual closure in 1969.

Since then, the viaduct has stood unused but kept safe by essential repairs and maintenance.

Although still an important local landmark, Castlefield Viaduct had, quite literally, been put out to pasture.

This is now changing as up to 100 visitors a day will be able to enjoy the garden in the sky.

One half of the stretch is being planted with trees, flowers and shrubs, including cotton grass, Manchester’s county flower.

The other part of the viaduct will be left untouched, showing how nature has reclaimed the site over the years since its closure.

Image credit: David Bewick/Twelve Architects

Castlefield Viaduct: Sky park

The new sky garden for Manchester, created by National Trust & partners. 

Image credit: David Bewick/Twelve Architects

Castlefield Viaduct: Sky park

Castlefield Viaduct, bringing nature and green space to more people in Manchester. 

Image credit: David Bewick/Twelve Architects

Castlefield Viaduct: Sky park

Creating an urban oasis for the people of Manchester.

Did you know …

  1. Located on the site of Manchester’s Roman origins.

  2. The viaduct was home to the world’s first passenger railway.

  3. It was the terminus for the Bridgewater Canal, the world’s first industrial canal .

Difference the project can make

During the pandemic, the importance of green space became clear as we gained a better understanding of its direct link to wellbeing.

It also became evident that there's a lack of access to such green spaces in many urban areas, including Manchester.

Now the National Trust, together with a range of partners, is re-purposing the viaduct to create a much-needed green space in the city, as part of a 12-month pilot project.

In the long term

Feedback will be taken from visitors and stakeholders on the long-term plan for the viaduct.

It’s hoped that the greening scheme will act as a stepping-stone for more innovative uses going forward.

Coupled with other local schemes - such as the proposed Eden Project North and RHS Bridgewater, a recent ICE North West award nominee, the future may be gloriously green.

People who made it happen

  • The National Trust
  • The National Highways Historical Railways Estate Team
  • Manchester City Council
  • Twelve Architects
  • Greater Manchester Combined Authority
  • Transport for Greater Manchester
  • The local community
  • Businesses and supporters
  • Players of the People’s Postcode Lottery

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