Celebrating the second anniversary of the Irlam Station’s restoration, Michael Portillo joined us for the announcement of a new, ambitious proposal - the reopening of Cadishead Viaduct.
The viaduct towers across the Manchester Ship Canal and although it has fallen into disrepair, it’s still one of our most significant landmarks in the district. The viaduct was last used in 1984 when the last of the freight services carried coal over the line. Since then, the abandoned bridge has been left to fall apart and large shipping containers have been put in place to prevent curious adventurers falling through the widening corrosion.
Bringing it back to life, Neil McArthur and the HDT team have proposed a variety of exciting schemes for the viaduct as part of their ongoing work to regenerate Irlam and Cadishead. The viaduct was originally built to accommodate four railway tracks and spans nearly 20 metres wide. Its capacity presents the potential for multi-modal transport links, restoring the old link between the communities of Partington and Cadishead and beyond.
The simplest suggestion would be to create a safe environment for cycling and pedestrian access. Designing a natural habitat high up in the sky would create a space for the communities to explore and capture new perspectives spanning across the North West. A new cycling route across the Ship Canal will also extend the brand new Chat Moss cycleway, which was also launched today. The circular route begins at the Station and leads you up to Astley Road and around the moss.
A bolder suggestion for the viaduct would see the return of steam. Opening the line up as a heritage railway route would be an exciting new venture for the district. Inspired by the East Lancashire Heritage Railway in Bury, which sees over 200,000 visitors a year, it would bring tourism to our towns with a new railway station built in Cadishead and others along the way.
Other options could see the Metrolink tram system brought along the line or even a guided busway.
Michael Portillo and his love of rail seemed delightfully impressed by the proposals. With his trademark contrasting red trousers and green jacket, he spent the day with all of the stakeholders involved with the new plans, including HDT, Network Rail and Transport for Greater Manchester to name a few. Smiling for every photograph and addressing the guests with an engaging speech, he made a great impression and his visit put us on the map.
Like Michael, we’ll be keeping our eyes peeled as the plans for Cadishead Viaduct and the Cheshire Lines develop.