I’m a freelance journalist and published poet, based in Manchester.
My debut poetry pamphlet is available at wildpressedbooks.com/david-keyworth.html
Nature is reclaiming Manchester or at least one monument of its industrial heritage. The National Trust is transforming Castlefield Viaduct into a 'green sky park'. It is asking visitors and the local community to help shape how the free-to-access project develops.
The welcome area will feature native plants such as elder and broom. Oak trees underplanted with the Red Rose of Lancaster will emphasise the North West roots of the development.
Visitors, local businesses, authorities and railway organisations will be invited, by the trust, to engage in a consultation about the site. The stated aim is to engage and benefit the people of Manchester. To this end, there will be installations and a community space to hold events
Other features will include cotton grass, and Manchester's county flower. A section of the viaduct will be untouched to provide living evidence of how nature responded to the space, which was closed in 1969.
Nature fans and those who want to learn more will have the opportunity to identify trees, try out apple juice pressing and make cocktails while nurturing their urban foraging skills. In addition to the buzz of human visitors, wildlife will be enticed by trees, flowers and shrubs.
Hilary McGrady, Director-General of the National Trust said: "The pandemic showed us the importance of our local parks and gardens, but it also highlighted significant inequalities in access to green space in urban areas like Manchester."
She added: "By working with others, we aim to increase access to parks and green spaces in, around, and near urban areas, so eventually everyone is in easy reach of quiet places for reflection with wide-open skies."
The trust's website states: "The raised elevation and the structure of the viaduct will create ever-shifting light, highlighted by swathes of grasses that will move with the wind and reflect the golden tones of summer evenings."
National Trust's new pilot project to create a sky park on the Castlefield Viaduct. Credit National Trust Images & James Dobson
The 330-metre steel structure was constructed in the early 1890s by the same engineers - Heenan and Froude - who created Blackpool Tower. For 77 years it bore the weight of heavy rail traffic rattling in and out of the Great Northern Warehouse.
The Castlefield area is a historical bridge between contemporary Manchester and the Roman occupation of Britain. It was settled by soldiers under the leadership of General Agricola, governor of Britain 78 - 84 AD. The timber fort was named Mamucium and occupied a strategic position near the Irwell and Medlock rivers and the roads leading to York, Chester and Ribchester.
A village - known as 'vicus' - was established to supply the fort. By the eighteenth century, coal was arriving down the Bridgewater canal from Worsley and the site was known as Castlefield.
In 1830, Castlefield welcomed the world's first inter-urban railway designed to transport both passengers and goods. Its Manchester terminus was Liverpool Road Station, now home to the Science and Industry Museum.