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Science and Industry Museum submits first phase plans for outdoor spaces

The Science and Industry Museum has submitted plans for improved public realm. This will follow the critical repair work currently taking place across the museum's historic Upper Yard and 1830 Viaduct to resolve historic water ingress across the site and into its listed buildings. 

The plans will transform accessibility while retaining and celebrating the globally significant industrial beauty and heritage of the site and will be delivered in phases. The museum's public realm will celebrate the first inter-city passenger railway in the world and the wider site as the earliest surviving example of a passenger railway terminus in the world. 

The first phase will see improved accessible routes, connectivity and views across the Upper Yard and 1830 Viaduct, and will be delivered by summer 2025 following the reopening of the Power Hall.

An artist's impression of a new outdoor area of a museum Image credit: Lydia Kirk/Planit
Artist's impression of landscaped Upper Yard

This is the first step towards a 1 km accessible walking loop through 200 years of history on the museum's site and creating new entrances from Liverpool Road, Water Street and Aviva Studios in future years.  

The plans have been developed with the museum by Manchester-based landscape architects Planit and supported by heritage, conservation, and planning specialists including architects Buttress (also based in Manchester), who specialise in restoring listed and historic buildings.

Sally MacDonald, Director of the Science and Industry Museum, says: 

'We are looking forward to making our outdoor spaces as beautiful and accessible as possible, removing physical barriers and uneven surfaces and fixing previous scarring from repairs over the last few decades.

'This special place was at the heart of the industrial revolution and maintaining and caring for its heritage is crucial. We want everyone to be able to appreciate the railway tracks (which remain the centrepiece of the outdoor experience), views and buildings. As visitors are more able to explore the outdoor spaces, we can also better tell the stories of the site and listed buildings in each key area.  

'We will interpret the history of the site in creative ways, building on the success of our existing Planting Stories garden areas, where we have chosen special plants to create an authentic feel and character, representing foods, materials and goods which would have come through the site as well as the fire, steam and water that fuelled the railways.'

Anna Marohn, Principal Landscape Architect at Planit, says: 

'Supporting the sensitive regeneration of one of Manchester's key heritage and tourist sites has been a real privilege. It's a large site and preserving its key features whilst making it accessible and engaging for all has been central to the new public realm designs. 

'The train tracks will remain the centrepiece and most prominent feature of the experience, connecting-up the site and its heritage buildings for visitors. Many of the existing materials, such as cobbles, will be re-used in the new design and the whole site will see an injection of new trees and wildflowers. The intention is to make Manchester's Science and Industry Museum an inviting space for visitors all year round.'

Calum McGowan, Chair of Castlefield Forum says:

'We are thrilled at the museum's latest masterplan, which will unlock more of the site, more of the time. Anything which makes Castlefield and the museum more permeable is a good thing and we have great faith that it will be done to a fantastic standard. We can't wait to see the finished results.'

On the 1830 Viaduct, the design has been inspired by historic references. It will remove barriers, enable public access for the first time and re-situate the tracks in a cobbled landscape instead of stones, akin to when the railway workforce would have been able to cross the area. 

An artist's impression of a new outdoor area of a museum Image credit: Lydia Kirk/Planit
Artist's impression of landscaped 1830 Viaduct

It's the museum's aim in future to reopen the 1830 Station and to bring to life the remarkable story of passenger and freight travel to and from Manchester. Visitors will be able to step back in time to the day the Liverpool and Manchester Railway opened and explore the adventures of the first passengers. This will include positioning a static rail locomotive on the tracks outside the station. Future aspirations also include an outdoor playground within the Lower Yard.  

The museum's six-acre site, which it is on a journey of caring for, repairing, and improving, is part of a wider complex of warehouses, viaducts, railway lines and arches which bore witness to the industrial revolution.  

By starting to open the site up once more to its surrounding context, it's the museum's aim to create a place that's once again at the heart of the past, present and future of Manchester and beyond.  

Materials will reference the site's industrial character and past uses, including timber and pockets of low set steel planters to maintain key views.

Black and white photo of an old train station Image credit: Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives
Liverpool Road Station in 1895, showing a cobbled landscape between the tracks, which has provided inspiration for our landscaping design.

The landscaping application has been submitted to Manchester City Council as the site continues to undertake essential repair works to New Warehouse, the Gantry, 1830 Viaduct and Upper Yard. It follows the restoration of the Station Agent's House with Landmark Trust and the award-winning new Special Exhibitions Gallery, which opened in 2021. 

This work will run alongside the current repair and improvement of the Power Hall and the site's ambitious decarbonisation work, and future plans that will enable visitors to enjoy every space across the expansive site in the coming years. This will include a new experience in the 1830 Station, an interactive Wonderlab gallery for young visitors, a new connecting route through to Aviva Studios, significant new outdoor landscaping and public realm provision and opportunities for outdoor play.




The Science and Industry Museum tells the story of where science met industry and the modern world began. Manchester was one of the first global industrial cities, and its epic rise, decline and resurrection has been echoed in countless other cities around the world.  The museum's mission is to inspire all its visitors, including future scientists and inventors, with the story of how ideas can change the world, from the industrial revolution to today and beyond.   

The Science and Industry Museum site is on the site of the Liverpool Road Station terminus of the Liverpool Manchester Railway, the world's first purpose-built passenger railway. Among its internationally significant buildings are the world's first passenger railway station and the oldest existing railway goods warehouse. In total there are two Grade I listed buildings and four Grade II listed buildings on the site.  

The Science and Industry Museum is part of the Science Museum Group, a family of museums which also includes the Science Museum in London; the National Railway Museum in York and Shildon; and the Science and Media Museum in Bradford. The Science Museum Group is devoted to the history and contemporary practice of science, medicine, technology, industry and media. With five million visitors each year and an unrivalled collection, it is the most significant group of museums of science and innovation worldwide.

About Planit

We design for the living world. For today, tomorrow and the next 200 years. We're an urban and rural design practice, working to benefit people, places, and the world at large. We offer landscape architecture, urban design, 3D visualisation and creative engagement as a way to make projects of all sizes for all sectors. Our work stretches from strategy to concept, design through to delivery, and long-term stewardship. 

We shape places for the common good, creating ideas that bring people together in unexpected ways, and places for a world still here when we're not. To design the future we want, we need to see the world from the widest possible perspective: from community to climate, from nature to future. We are not stopping at sustainable, or just simply at having a positive impact - our approach is towards regenerative. Designing for all life to thrive in balance.  

We are an employee-owned business, committed to standing alongside clients, communities, and nature to shape meaningful places and explore regenerative futures. As one of the first B Corps of our type in the world, we prioritise people, planet, and profit equally.