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Manchester to Get a Bit of Manhattan

Updated: Oct 2, 2021

An abandoned railway viaduct in Manchester is to be turned into an ‘urban oasis’ inspired by New York’s High Line.

This 330m long viaduct sits in the oldest part of Manchester - Castlefield. It’s an area steeped in rich history. Castlefield is the site of the city's Roman origins, the world’s first passenger railway, and was the terminus for the Bridgewater Canal, the world’s first industrial canal.

Built in 1892, the viaduct was used to carry heavy rail traffic in and out of Manchester Central railway station. It stayed in use until 1969 when Central Station closed. As the city of Manchester has continued to grow, the viaduct has stood unused and unchanged with only essential repairs and maintenance carried out.

It’s now time for the viaduct to reclaim its place in this vibrant city, celebrating its part in Manchester’s past, present and future, says the National Trust.

New York’s High Line has provided an inspiring template for urban regeneration since opening in 2009. The 1.5-mile park has breathed new life into a disused railway and many of the neighbourhoods that it wended through, attracting millions of visitors.

The National Trust hopes to pull off a similar feat in Manchester by transforming the cast iron Castlefield viaduct into a green space. “Our ambition is to give more people the opportunity to enjoy the health and wellbeing benefits of green, nature-rich havens on this remarkable heritage structure in the city,” said Duncan Laird, head of urban places at the National Trust. “This feels especially important in urban areas like Manchester where there is need for more high-quality green spaces. This project will also help bring people back to the city centre and support local businesses."

A similar scheme is likely to be given the green light in London, where James Corner, the designer of the New York High Line, has been brought in to reimagine a disused railway in Camden. Like its Manhattan inspiration, the Camden Highline would run along abandoned viaducts between Kings Cross and Camden for three quarters of a mile.

“This innovative project has the potential to become a real asset for Camden and is a great example of a local community taking an idea and garnering support in order to make it a reality,” said Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London.

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