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Transforming Old Rail Infrastructure Into Urban Sky Parks

2 min

Sky Park
c. National Trust
As a 330m long urban sky park opened to the public in Manchester, Quadrant Transport looks at how transforming old viaducts can help improve biodiversity and wellbeing in urban areas. 

A former railway viaduct is now an elevated sky park with trees, plants, and flowers, thanks to the National Trust-led project. The park will be open for 12 months, where visitors can enjoy the scenic area while learning about the viaduct’s heritage and urban gardening tips.

Transformed by Salford-based contractor MC Construction, the 330m long steel bridge officially opened after a five-year regeneration project.

The project is hoped to encourage people living in urban areas to take up gardening where possible. Transforming viaducts may change perceptions around the ability to plant trees and flowers in urban areas.

MC Construction Transformed 330m Long Viaduct Into Urban Sky Park

Speaking separately, MC Construction Operations Director Russ Forshaw explained: “Regenerating the disused Grade II listed Viaduct that has stood above the historic area of Castlefield for over 125 years has been no easy task.”

Continuing, he said: “I am thrilled with the end result, and I am incredibly proud of the team who have worked tirelessly over the past couple of months to bring National Trust’s vision to life.”

Adding to this, National Trust director general Hilary McGrady added: “Today is incredibly exciting. The idea of transforming the viaduct has been around for a while, but it was always put in the ‘too hard to achieve’ box and set aside.

For that long-held vision to finally come to life is, therefore, a testament to the strong partnerships we have formed and the hard work of many


She added: “What I love about this space is that it encapsulates so much of what the Trust’s work is about: opening up our shared heritage for everyone to enjoy, creating beautiful spaces and bringing people close to nature. It is about creating something new for the community while also protecting an ironic piece of industrial history.

Expanding This Project Across The UK Is The Next Step

“We hope hundreds of people will visit and enjoy spending time in nature among the trees, shrubs and wildlife that is already starting to make this space its home. We will also be able to learn from this project and really start to understand more about what and how we can bring more green spaces and wildlife to thousands more people across the country in urban spaces.”

Setting the benchmark for these projects and offering scalability and replicability options is crucial if more urban areas are to follow Manchester’s lead. A similar proposal to turn an abandoned railway viaduct into a garden bridge has been tabled in London for a structure spanning the Thames in West London.