ON SUNDAY 7
July I went on a five mile walk along the disused Fallowfield
Loop Line from Fallowfield to Fairfield. The walk was instigated
by the Manchester Civic Society and organised by Costel Hornasz
and Rob Trueblood, who are campaigning for the route to be
turned into a 'greenway' for use by walkers, cyclists and
others. Our railway expert was Eddie Johnson, author of a
number of books and a collector of railway photographs. The
weather was drizzly at first, later overcast, but dry.
THIS IS MY POSTCARD of the walk along the Fallowfield Loop
Line. In the top left picture we are walking along the line
in Fallowfield, after descending onto the trackbed. The top
right photo shows Kingsway - the bridge carrying the line
to Manchester Airport is just visible at the top.
The bottom right picture shows the bridge carrying the line
from Manchester Piccadilly to Stockport and London Euston
- visible further on is Stockport Road and Levenshulme (later
Levenshulme South) station building, now a second hand furniture
store. The bottom left picture shows the old cast iron footbridge
east of Levenshulme Station.
FALLOWFIELD STATION, as it looked in 1999 - half the station
building has been demolished to make way for the entrance
to Sainsbury's - a bizarre marriage of late Victorian and
pre-Millennium, but at least the old building was saved. This
was our meeting point for the South Manchester Loop Line walk.
The South Manchester Loop Line was opened in 1892, and provided
regular passenger services until 1958.
It continued in freight use until October 1988, when it was
taken out of use completely. It isn't going to be integrated
into the extended Metrolink system, hence the plan to turn
the line into a greenway.
We descended onto the line down a tricky slope near Ladybarn
Lane- after that, walking on the ballast left after the lines
were pulled up, the going was mostly easy, with not much mud.
As well as stinging nettles, bushes, butterflies we also
encountered abandoned cars and bits of household appliances.
passed under or over a number of interesting routes and linear
features. These included
and the line to Manchester Airport & Styal
Piccadilly to Euston Line, Stockport Road and Levenshulme
derelict North Nelsdrop road - marking the Stockport border
- and the nearby Thirlmere aqueduct,
Ditch - an earthwork feature of uncertain origin, stretching
across south Manchester and beyond,
Belle Vue to Romiley and New Mills railway line,
former Stockport branch of the Ashton Canal, now filled
in, and finally
Tameside border at Fairfield Station
Johnson told us how the line might have been saved had there
been sufficient money in 1947 to pay for electrification west
of Reddish. A railway depot was built here in 1954, but it
was never as busy as it was hoped and closed in 1981. The
site is now like a lunar landscape.
As part of the preparations for Metrolink, LRT vehicles were
tested along a stretch of track north of Hyde Road - I took
a ride with friends back in 1988. This track is now gone,
and the deep cutting near Abbey Hey has been filled in up
to bridge level with landfill (household waste) - a sad end
for a once important rail route.
The end of the line is at Fairfield station. The border with
Tameside is marked by end of the landfill and a sole remaining
gantry which used to carry overhead electricity cables. The
busy Manchester to Guide Bridge and Ashton line is just beyond
Our walk ended there too - a fascinating journey across south
Manchester, which we saw from a new angle.
the preserve of steam engines and diesel trains, this route
will soon - we hope - be used every day by walkers, cyclists,
horse riders and others. If you'd like more information on the
South Manchester Loop Line greenway proposal, please contact Costel