Remaining rural until the 1930’s, this North Manchester village, its name literally meaning the clearing in the dark wood, was an area of deciduous woodland and formed part of the manor of the Lords of Manchester.
Home to Boggart Hole Clough and parts of Heaton Park, its position on the River Irk attracted the bleaching and dyeing industries and its Hexagon Tower became the headquarters of ICI.
The name of Blackley is said to derive from ley, leag, Leah, meaning field or pasture and blac, bleac, baec, literally black or gloomy.
Various documents of the twelth and thirteenth century give credence to the fact that this area was extensively wooded, no more than Thomas Grelle’s charter to the borough which gives liberty to the burgesses of nourishing swine of their own breeding in the woods of The Lord and in a survey of 1322 which says:
“The park of Blakelegh is worth in pannage, aery of eagles, herons and hawks, honey bees, mineral earths, ashes and other issues 53 shillings and fourpence”
Blackley Hall was situated around one hundred and fifty yards from the junction of the Manchester and Middleton Roads. Built during the reign of Henry VIII:
“The Hall was a spacious black and white half-timbered mansion in the post and petrel style. It was a structure of considerable antiquity and consisted of a centre and two projecting wings, an arrangement frequently met in the more ancient manor houses of this county, and bore evidence of having been erected at two distinct periods. The older portion was constructed of timber and plaster, gabled and originally protected by a bargeboard with ornamental hip knob. The other wing erected probably about the end of the sixteenth or the beginning of the seventeenth century was of brick, with quoins and dressings of stone. The windows were all square headed, chiefly of three lights, divided by mullions, and having the addition of a label or weather table.”
The Hall survived until 1815 when it was bought by William Grant who along with his brother Charles were said to have been Dicken’s model for the Cheeryble brothers of Nickolas Nickelby. They built a print works in its place.
There was an oratory at Blackley as early as 1360, probably the origin of the chapel existing in 1548, St Peter’s which was rebuilt in 1736, though the current building dates from the middle of the nineteenth century.
The village avoided much of the spreading of industrial Manchester, though by the end of the nineteenth century its population had grown from 2,300 at the start of the century to over 9,000, Blackley was incorportated in the City of Manchester in 1890.