The Fallowfield Loop is a cycling and walking path in Manchester formed from an old disused railway wine line that also passes through Chorlton, Levenshulme and Gorton. During lockdown use of the Loop has burgeoned, with local people using this soothing green pathway, rich in plants and wildlife, to regularly relieve the stress of living through the pandemic.
Graffiti artists have also been busy, producing some outstanding art to enhance the industrial heritage of walls, bridges and tunnels that make up the Loop. Presented here are a selection of photos taken from the Loop during this strange pandemic summer. Some are no longer present as they have been painted over, an increasingly common fate for these transient pieces as the artists produce more, perhaps due to having more time to commit to their art in lockdown.
Aliens is still my all-time favourite sci-fi movie, so I was sorry to see this piece above go, with its homage to that particularly vicious extra-terrestrial, but it was replaced with another iconic 80’s movie character that turned into a vicious little alien looking blighter that I am also fond of. All images in this article can be clicked on to enlarge.
At eight miles long the Loop is one of the longest urban cycleways in Britain. The line had been derelict for a number of years up until the late 1990’s when a campaign was started by a group of cyclists calling for it to be converted to walking and cycling route across south Manchester. That group became the Friends of the Fallowfield Loop in 2001, who are dedicated to maintaining this excellent community resource for use by as many people as possible.
The Friends website has plenty more information on the Loop and has a handy map that shows the parks, such as Debdale and Highfield, that are accessible from the loop. An artist called Good Life has been very busy on the Loop, with a very distinct style illustrated in the images below.
The railway line that ran along the Loop was opened in 1892, operating as a passenger line till 1969 and as a freight only route till 1988. The train line from Sheffield looped through south Manchester, passing by Old Trafford before accessing Manchester Central Railway station. This station closed in 1969 and became the G-Mex convention centre; which is now being used as a Nightingale hospital during the pandemic.
The section of the Loop that runs under the wide dual carriageway Kingsway bridge exhibits some of the most striking art to be seen along the loop. Good Life’s work covers one whole wall beneath the bridge, with an excellent cartoon inspired mural, and I love the psychedelic/Beatles feel to the extended mural on the opposite wall.
The route is now mostly owned by the charity Sustrans who are custodians of the National Cycle Network. The Loop forms part of Route 60 of that network, which runs past the Velodrome and Manchester City Football ground. If you fancy a safe cycle through south Manchester, away from the traffic and its pollution, I can highly recommend you take a spin down the Fallowfield Loop so you can also take in the inspiring public art that is on display there.
By Conrad Bower
Feature image and all in article images: Conrad Bower
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