Castlefield Forum looks for Roman Gardens support

Jessica Middleton-Pugh

Residents group Castlefield Forum, in partnership with architect BDP and Manchester Garden City, has launched a crowdfunding campaign to support a planning application for £2m of improvements to the Roman Gardens, off Liverpool Road.

The masterplan, designed by BDP, outlines how the park near to The Oxnoble and White Lion pubs could benefit from better access, lighting and continental café-style seating doubling the outdoor capacity of the neighbouring pubs.

The cost of the project is estimated at £2m and Castlefield Forum is looking for Heritage Lottery Fund support. The works would take between three and five years to complete.

Castlefield Forum has until the end of June to fundraise £20,000 to support the submission of a planning application. Donations are being sought through crowdfunding website Spacehive.

As part of the renovation, Castlefield Forum said it would work with Greater Manchester Archaeological Advisory Service to hold a series of community digs to uncover more about the Roman heritage of the gardens, and then support a network of community volunteers and the National Trust to maintain the gardens.

Key elements of the plans are to:

  • Open up the site and make it fully accessible, 24 hours a day (currently it has wrought iron fencing surrounding the gardens with limited access points)
  • Clear away the scrubby areas but retain the healthy trees
  • Light the area appropriately at night
  • Introduce a rain garden, new trees, wildflowers, Roman plants, a rain garden and raised community grow boxes
  • New landscaping and sculpting of some grassed areas; gentle slopes will invite children to play
  • Replace the broken and muddy pathways with recycled York stone from the site
  • Mark out the pathway of the Roman road with a timeline etched into the surface
  • Introduce more formal relaxation spaces for the adjoining public houses

Calum McGowan, the Castlefield resident who is leading the project, said: "We want to deliver a world-class green space that ties together the 2,000-year-old Roman heritage of the site with the modern day city. We want to delight people who use the gardens, whatever their age, whatever month they visit and whatever time of day they happen to meander through. This will be a beautiful space to walk through, to relax in, to read a book, take in some sunshine, pick some growbox herbs, meet your friends for a drink in the dappled summer sun or walk your dog on a crisp winter morning.

"This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to deliver an amazing, inspiring urban retreat for Manchester. Being located at the entrance to the Roman North Gate, the site is also of great historical importance. We want to do the Gardens justice. At the moment, they are sad and tired."

For more information on the project visit

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