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“Looking forward to the joys of spring…” Castlefield Viaduct now re-open with new community hub

After the huge success of Castlefield Viaduct last year, it's now re-open after a winter hiatus with a new community hub.

Visitors can once again enjoy Manchester’s sky park as Castlefield Viaduct reopens to the public today

The elevated park has been closed since early January to allow time for a new community workshop space to be added to the 330-metre steel viaduct.

Castlefield Viaduct

Ever wondered why is Manchester called Manchester or how it got its name?
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The National Trust opened the viaduct in July 2022 as a pilot project to gauge public opinion on the future of the Manchester landmark.

Since then, over 85,000 people have benefited from the project either by making a visit to the viaduct or by taking part in community activities in and around the city.

The project is part of the National Trust’s Urban Places work to increase access to nature, history and beauty in, around and near urban areas.

You can find out more about the project by clicking here

A new community workshop space at Castlefield Viaduct

National Trust head gardener nancy and Kate Picker visitor operations and experience manager Manchester’s Castlefield Viaduct sets to re-open after the winter months.

A new workshop space, created in partnership with viaduct partners Sow the City, will now allow members of the public to grow their green interests further and benefit more from nature.

‘Green workshops’, craft sessions and DIY activities will be hosted in the space to pass on horticultural skills like seed sowing and propagation.

Castlefield Viaduct
Longing for those warm Summer days!

Nancy Scheerhout, National Trust Head Gardener for Castlefield Viaduct, says: “We’re delighted to have worked with our partners, Sow the City, to bring this new workshop space to the viaduct. It will provide us and our community partners with a dedicated area to get more people involved in, and benefit from, green activities.

“We’ve made the space as friendly and hands-on as possible, and we have plans to add interactive compost that people can see and hear!

“As a conservation charity dedicated to connecting more people with nature, we know the importance of increasing simple and everyday interactions with nature to enrich lives.

By offering ‘green workshops’ and activities in the space, alongside our partners and friends, we can encourage small space growing in the city.

It’s a great opportunity to grow people’s confidence and skills in creating their greenspace, improving the environment, their
wellbeing, and their skillset in the process.”

The new workshop space

The workshop space features a workbench that can be modified for wheelchair users, mini greenhouses to support growing on the viaduct, peat-free soil for workshop participants, and water and power. Depending on the activity, up to ten people can use the area.

The team on the viaduct are inviting local groups and communities to get in touch on their website by clicking here to enquire about using space.

Jon Ross, Chief Executive of Sow the City, says: “We’re passionate about enabling more people to get involved with growing, engaging with urban nature and learning new skills and this space will support the communities we work with to do just that.

“This is the second space on the viaduct we’ve been involved with designing and installing, and we can’t wait to see people using the space and have a go ourselves!”

Mental health and wellbeing in nature

Sow the City have plans to use the workshop space for Social Prescribing workshops to support mental health and wellbeing.

Other partners like Back on Track, Manchester City Council’s climate officers, Castlefield Clean and Green, Manchester Action on Street Health (MASH), and homelessness charity Embassy Village, are also making plans to use the area.

The new workshop space adds to the existing garden areas on the viaduct, including four ‘partner plots’ by Hulme Community Garden Centre, City of Trees, Castlefield Forum and Sow the City.

You can find out more about them by clicking here

The gardens have been managed and developed to encourage biodiversity and provide year-round interest and connection to the seasons in 2024. Sustainability on the viaduct has also been improved with the team now using hot bin composting systems.

New floral highlights for this year include unusual varieties of narcissus, camassias, fritillarias and anemones.

In anticipation of the National Trust’s annual Festival of Blossom, the team are also expecting a striking display from native blackthorn, rowan and hawthorne, as well as Fuji Cherries.

The city-wide ‘Bloomtown’ blossom trail, launched in spring 2023, will be making a comeback as well. The self-led trail shows off some of the best places to see blossom in Manchester, Salford and Trafford.

Nancy continues: “As we head into our second spring on the viaduct, we’ve learned so much from this unique urban site and have developed our planting schemes for 2024 with those in mind.

“Planting at height, in the middle of a city centre, and in steel containers, means the team and I keep a close check on how things are bedding in and how life on the viaduct is evolving.

“We’re excited to welcome the public back and showcase great horticulture. For me, a garden only truly comes to life with people in it and engaging with nature.

“We’re looking forward to the many joys of spring.”

Costing £1.8 million, the pilot has been made possible thanks to players of People’s Postcode Lottery, as well as donations from individuals, trusts and foundations and corporate companies which covers two-thirds of the build costs.

To help build a longer-term future for the viaduct, the conservation charity launched the Castlefield Viaduct Club inviting corporate companies to pledge their support.

The National Trust is also seeking partners to support the funding of the viaduct’s summer 2024 events and activities for the local community.

A covered event space on the viaduct is available to businesses and community groups for meetings or events, with income supporting the project.

Those visiting the viaduct day-to-day can also help keep the viaduct growing by donating on the day or via the website.

Entry into the structure will remain free when it reopens to the public this weekend.

Members of the public can visit, without booking, every afternoon from 12.30pm and all day on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday.

To find out more about the history of the viaduct and this project from the National Trust, visitors can book onto a guided talk in advance on the website by clicking here

Bookable guided talks take place on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays between 10.30am and 12 midday.

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