Co Antrim’s answer to the High Line in New York opened

Co Antrim’s answer to New York’s famous High Line has been officially opened.

A former railway viaduct in Randalstown, which spans the River Maine, has been transformed into a community garden.

Randalstown Viaduct
People during the opening of the Elevation Community Garden (Liam McBurney/PA)

It was created with a grant by the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) – one of four community gardens across the United Kingdom for the 2022 RHS Garden Day.

The project was led by the Tidy Randalstown Environmental Group, and the garden was designed by Johnny Knox.

Their vision was to create something that could be both a working garden as well as a world class amenity for locals and visitors, similar to The High Line in New York.

Randalstown Viaduct
People walking getting a first glimpse of the new garden during the opening of the Elevation Community Garden on the Randalstown Viaduct (Liam McBurney/PA)

Officially opening the suspended garden – christened Elevation – Mayor of Antrim and Newtownabbey Councillor Billy Webb said it will become a “destination hotspot that is equal parts working garden and world-class attraction for locals and visitors alike”.

“The repurposing of what was already an iconic heritage landmark into a picturesque restorative space will undoubtedly increase tourism footfall to such a beautiful part of Northern Ireland, which in turn helps to boost the economy,” he said.

An intergenerational team will maintain the site, which has seating and areas for people to get together and facilitate workshops.

Helen Boyd, chair of the local volunteer group, said the attraction will provide an important restorative space for the people who live in the area.

Randalstown Viaduct
Ken Cooke with his wife Isabella during the opening of the Elevation Community Garden on the Randalstown Viaduct (Liam McBurney/PA)

“With its fresh air and beautiful plants, as well as being away from busy roads, means everyone will want to meet here,” she said.

“This will be a much-needed place for the people of Randalstown, whose wellbeing will benefit from the sights, scents and sounds which greet them in this community garden.

“In conjunction with the local community, we have all worked together to create a garden of considerable significance, one which is a true representation of the viaduct’s industrial past and takes its future to a whole new level.”

Randalstown Viaduct
Johnny Knox, who designed the garden during the opening of the Elevation Community Garden on the Randalstown Viaduct (Liam McBurney/PA)

Mr Knox, said it was a “privilege” to work on a cherished local landmark.

“What’s most exciting is that a vibrant garden in this setting has the potential to transcend and give back more to the community than what the viaduct could in its original form,” he said.

“There are also elements to give a nod to the history and original function of the site.  By using brass arches shaped in the scaled outline of an old railway carriage, I hope to emulate something of the grandeur associated with this era of transport. I look forward to it being enjoyed for generations and seeing it expand and grow in time.”

Elevation Community Garden is now open to the public