Transparent slides, green space and play tunnels all set to be ready this year

Manchester city centre may have many wonderful attributes but a large, quality playground is not one of them – though we should give props to the play area outside The Whitworth.

Tiny play areas have dotted the city centre but now kids and the young at heart will get to play their heart's out at a new playground in the new Mayfield park.

At more than 1,400 sq ft, the public playground will be the largest in the city. It has been designed collaboratively by regeneration specialist U+I on behalf of the Mayfield Partnership, landscape architects Studio Egret West (SEW) and Massey & Harris, an independent play equipment specialist based in Greater Manchester.

We can’t wait to see people enjoying Mayfield Park in all its glory when it opens

The design includes an homage to Manchester’s industrial heritage chimney-shaped towers, inspired by the remains of an octagonal-shaped factory chimney discovered at the site during an archaeological dig earlier this year. 

One of the play tunnels will also pay homage to the former Mayfield train station and Depot’s history, clad in reclaimed brick, it will replicate a railway tunnel opening.  Play area aficionados will be intrigued to know that Massey & Harris installed the cute snail slide in Piccadilly Gardens, the pod slides in Heaton Park and the new play area at RHS Bridgewater.

The play area is intended for children so, as responsible adults, we will definitely not be having a go on the 18 metre-long slide. Transparent sections of the slide will add to the thrill as it crosses the newly restored River Medlock. 

Secretary of State for Levelling Up Michael Gove was no doubt gutted that the slide was not ready for him to have a go on when he visited the park last week to inspect the progress at the site. 

The renowned funster was joined on a walkaround of the site by the Leader of the Council Bev Craig, Chief Executive Joanne Roney and Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham.

The £1.5bn Mayfield development is being delivered by the Mayfield Partnership a public-private joint venture between Manchester city council, Transport for Greater Manchester, regeneration specialist U+I and LCR.

Mayfield Play Area New Playground In Manchester City Centre
An imagining of what the site will look like Image: Factory Fifteen

Happier and healthier 

Arlene Van Bosch, Mayfield’s Development Director at U+I said: “We’ve committed to creating an incredible public space at Mayfield Park, so naturally we wanted to deliver something truly special and exciting for our young visitors.

“Our partners on this project have come up with an outstanding, creative design which matches our ambitions for the wider neighbourhood. I’m sure the chimney designs and the amazing slide over the river will be hugely popular when we open in the autumn.” 

Massey & Harris is currently building the play area at its workshop in Stockport before it is transported and installed at Mayfield.  

Huw Pritchard, lead designer at Massey & Harris, said: “Mayfield is a unique development which we are incredibly proud to be a part of. As a local company, which has been based in Stockport for more than 70 years, we know first-hand how important green space is to Manchester’s growing population.

“We were aware of the project from its very early stages and thought how fantastic it would be to be involved, so to actually work on it is incredible. It’s also an added bonus that we are only down the road, so we’ve been able to share our knowledge of the area to benefit the park and travel easily to and from the site.”

“Our values very much align with Mayfield’s. Working collaboratively with U+I and Studio Egret West we have been able to design a play space that will challenge and stimulate children of all ages, leaving youngsters happier and healthier. This is a fantastic opportunity for Manchester and we can’t wait to see people enjoying Mayfield Park in all its glory when it opens.”

2020 12 09 Mayfield Ui Mayfield 1

Max Aughton, project landscape architect at Studio Egret West, said: “Our design concept was for an industrial-inspired play area within nature that will help to tell the story of Mayfield’s amazing history. We’ve chosen a simple palette of materials including steel and reclaimed brick to create an industrial feel which also gives the trees and planting a contrasting backdrop. 

"The chimney towers resonate with historic skylines of Manchester and Mayfield. Together these features will create a sense that our young visitors are exploring an abandoned landscape where nature has taken over.  

“This is a park which people will visit again and again and have different experiences each time they come as seasons change. For children especially, as their confidence grows so too will their use of the play area which features different heights and levels for all ages. The towers will sit amongst the canopies of some of the largest trees to be planted at Mayfield and this will give the children a real sense of playing within nature.  

“Accessibility and inclusivity are at the heart of the design and we have ensured the entirety of the park and the majority of play area equipment is wheelchair friendly. We can’t wait to see the play area in action.”

Leader of Manchester City Council Bev Craig added: "Mayfield Park is going to be a major new green public space for Manchester. As a city which values our young people, it's perfect that it will include a play facility as fun and active as this as part of what it has to offer. 

“We can't wait to welcome Manchester people to this new attraction."

The park at Mayfield joins the development along the Castlefield Viaduct which is being transformed by the National Trust. 

Find out more about the vision for Mayfield 24-acre site next to Manchester Piccadilly station. 

Read now: Mayfield trees arrive but are Aytoun's at risk?

Read next: Mayfield city centre park so much talk, now it's happening

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