Follow our interactive timeline and the history of Levenshulme South Station from 1892 to now. From bustling train station to Station South cycle café.
A Grand Opening
Originally just called “Levenshulme”, the glorious mock Tudor building that is now Station South was opened on the 2nd of May 1892 by the Manchester, Sheffileld and Lincolnshire Railway (MSLR). The station served the MSLR 'Fallowfield Loop' line. The Loop, which many know and love as a modern-day mixed use leisure route, was a 7-mile double-track route linking Manchester South District line from near Chorlton to the mainline at Manchester, connecting the MLSR to Manchester Central Station (now Manchester Central exhibition centre).
A Great Heyday
In 1897 MSLR became the Great Central Railway (GCR). This would prove to be a turning point for the station. By now, there were 21 trains in both directions and seven on Sundays, but a decline in use was on the horizon.
By 1900, the station had a goods yard, just to the east of Broom Avenue. The goods yard boasted five large sidings, which is from where our neighbour The Sidings pub takes its name. The addition of a goods yard was an important development for the station as it opened it up to freight services as well as passenger trains. At one point, a goods service running between Liverpool and Harwich docks in Essex regularly passed through Levenshulme Station.
Electric trams were just a few years away and would see passenger numbers of the Fallowfield Loop line decline drastically as passengers had a new way to travel with quicker and more direct services into the centre of Manchester.
Express services still passed through Levenshulme Station by 1903 when electric trams came into force and even as late as 1923, by which time the line had become part of LNER, goods services were still making use of the station.
World War II
During World War II, the Government of the United Kingdom took control of the railways to support the war effort. This would prove to be another major turning point for Levenshulme station and many stations like it.
Shortly after the war, the government would introduce legislation that would set the scene for a major decline in use of stations like Levenshulme. The Transport Act of 1947 meant that British railways would be nationalised the following year.
This led to Britain’s rail network being split into six, later reduced to five, regions. This move, coupled with the government’s need to save money, formed the early groundwork for the controversial ‘Beeching cuts’, a programme of rail network reduction that focused mainly on branch lines.
Decline of Steam
The cuts, decline of steam locomotives, the growing use of diesel engines then latterly electriciation, coupled with a computerised freight network meant drastic changes for smaller branch lines and the stations that served them.
By the 1950s, passenger numbers were declining further. By 1958, passenger services calling the station were down to just three or four trains a day. In the same year, the service between Manchester Central and Guide Bridge was closed and the station was closed to passengers on the 5th of July, marking the end of an era for Levenshulme and the surrounding areas.
Although the station was closed to passengers, the station remained in use to goods trains for another seven years and the line remained open to other passenger services which passed through.
Levenshulme Station was downgraded to a coal depot in 1965, but trains would still pass through until 1969, when Manchester Central Station was closed.
Since its closure, the station’s beautiful platform buildings were demolished but the platforms themselves remained intact for some years to come, despite not being used.
Friends of the Fallowfield Loop
By the late ‘90s, the line running under the station had become derelict. A small group of local cyclists started campaigning to have the line converted into an urban greenway; a place for cyclists and walkers to travel away from cars.
Friends of the Fallowfield Loop
By June 2001, this informal coalition had become the ‘Friends of the Fallowfield Loop’. As the ‘Friends..’, the group was able to successfully lobby to have the old line repurposed into a traffic-free greenway.
The greenway, called the Fallowfield Loop after the original railway line - often a source of confusion to some who expect to end up where they started when heading out for their first ride on the route - is a linear park and wildlife corridor. It is the largest of its kind in the UK at eight miles long. The route connects many areas of south Manchester and makes it possible to cycle from Chorlton at the far end of the route to Yorkshire via the Ashton and Rochdale canals, which cyclists and walkers can access using an almost entirely car-free route, aside from a small portion of road Bradford, in east Manchester.
Although the original railway line had been repurposed, the station building remained in use in a variety of incarnations since the closure of the line until 2016 when it became vacant once more. It was a cabinet shop, a DIY shop, a window shop, a TV shop and a short lived cash and carry. Sadly, the original building was subject to many unsympathetic alterations and modifications and over the years fell into steady and noticeable decline.
In 2017 a group of local people living in Levenshulme rallied around to try and bring the dilapidated and vacant building back into use. Many good ideas were mooted and iterations of the local community were involved in those start up conversations.
Abigail Pound, Mark Jermyn and Pauline Johnston continued the conversations into deep planning and set up a Community Interest Company to officially develop a viable plan for restoration and a sustainable future.
The Station Scoop
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