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Manchester opens first new park in 100 years, delighting youngsters and kingfishers | Manchester

Manchester’s first new public park for 100 years opened its gates on Wednesday and has eight slides declared “so scary” by delighted youngsters given the primary go.

One of many slides transports riders over the River Medlock, a largely forgotten Mancunian waterway which has been underneath concrete there for the final 150 years. One other gives what appears like a near-vertical drop – a tonic for these nostalgic for the times when playgrounds carried a real sense of peril. One has been made accessible for youngsters in wheelchairs.

Grownups are allowed – although the slide’s architects, Stockport-based Massey and Harris, appear to have made the gnarliest intentionally awkward for anybody over 5ft 4. Mercie Biawete, a 14-year-old from East Manchester Academy, one of many first locals to provide them a check run, known as “so scary” however “actually good”.

There are eight slides in complete at Mayfield, which is nestled between the Mancunian Means, town’s ring street and Piccadilly Station.

Initially developed for a printing manufacturing facility through the Industrial Revolution and later used as a railway station and parcel depot, the 24-acre website has lain derelict for many years however has been introduced again to life in a £1.4bn public non-public partnership, with workplaces and 1,300 residences constructed on its fringes.

Boy on one of the slides
The park is nestled between the Mancunian Means, the ring street and Piccadilly Station {Photograph}: Christopher Thomond/The Guardian

Regardless of 50% of the park being privately owned, it is going to be operated “on the identical foundation as another public park in Manchester, and open from daybreak until nightfall”, stated Martyn Evans, artistic director of U+I, the developer. “What we needed Mayfield to be proper from the start was not just a few buildings with some good landscaping in between them, however a park with buildings in and round it. That’s not frequent.”

The park takes up 6.5 acres and features a verdant garden watered recurrently by three historic wells uncovered through the website excavation – that means that Mayfield will, it’s hoped, keep away from the destiny of Piccadilly Gardens, Manchester’s drug-dealing haven, the place the grass runs the gamut from “Somme” to “scorched earth” in line with the season.

View of the park
Mayfield Park is Manchester’s first new city-centre park for greater than 100 years. {Photograph}: Christopher Thomond/The Guardian

Mayfield additionally consists of the longest uncovered part of the Medlock within the metropolis centre, a 400-metre stretch of clear water. “It was completely filthy however the minute we cleaned it kingfishers, housemartins, geese returned,” stated Evans. “Nature finds a manner – even subsequent to the Mancunian Means.”

Builders are additionally exploring putting in a lido on the roof of the neighbouring railway depot, which is dwelling to the Warehouse Mission nightclub and Freight Island, a meals corridor. If engineers consider the roof can take the load of a lot water it might open subsequent summer time, in line with Evans.

“Broadwick Dwell, which leases Mayfield depot, would nonetheless prefer to put a lido up there, so we’re exploring plans,” stated Evans. The hope is to create an extended, skinny pool within the dip between two platforms the place the trains used to run, he defined. “I might find it irresistible if we might try this, however it won’t be doable.”

Although the park has been in planning since 2016, its opening feels “serendipitous”, stated Evans. “Submit-Covid, inexperienced house is what everyone needs.”

Even Manchester’s most ardent defenders settle for that the quickly rising metropolis lacks inexperienced house. In addition to the unloved Piccadilly Gardens, there are a couple of token quadrants right here and there, typically completely shaded by surrounding buildings, however nothing to check with Hyde Park in London or Princes Road Gardens in Edinburgh. “This is among the nicest parks I’ve seen in a very long time,” stated Biawete. “Most parks scent of cigs and vapes. Right here you possibly can breathe.”

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