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Blackley (pronounced
Blake -ley, and not Black-ley as outsiders understandably,
though mistakenly, call it) comes from Old English words meaning “clearing
in a dark wood”, and lies to the north of Manchester. In medieval
times the area was dense woodland with deer and wolves – a popular
local hunting venue. Dues for cutting timber or for hunting deer in
Blackley were payable directly to the monarch. Similarly, Boggart
Hole Clough
and the River Irk which runs through the area was
a popular spot for catching eels or hunting rabbits. A boggart
is an old local word for a ghost or evil spirit. Contemporary eyewitnesses
to its existence were many, though it seems to have deserted the landscape
in recent years.
is located about 2½ miles north of Manchester city centre.
It is on the east side of Rochdale Road just south of Boggart Hole
Clough. Rochdale Road is a major route from the Manchester to the
north and the M60 orbital motorway about 1½ miles away.
Hall stood at the junction of Rochdale Road and Middleton Road from
Tudor times, and was the home of the Assheton family, local wealthy
landowners and philanthropists. It had also belonged to the Legh family
(of Lyme Hall in Disley).
It was demolished some time shortly before 1815.
estate had been purchased by the Byrom family from the De la Warre
family, who had been the Lords of the Manor of Manchester in medieval
times. The poet Lord Byron had been a member of this family.
Its convenient
distance from Manchester meant that Blackley escaped the worst ravages
of the Industrial Revolution and even until the early 20th century
it was essentially rural with a solitary corn water driven mill on
the River Irk. Middleton Road saw the arrival of French émigrés
escaping religious persecution – they brought linen weaving skills
to the district.
640 acres
of Blackley were to be lost to the building of Heaton
for the Egerton family in 1772. Now incorporated into the
City of Manchester, it is the City’s biggest park.
The 1930s
saw considerable redevelopment in Blackley as a housing boom was in
full flood, and its early 20th century farms and fields disappeared
into suburban overspill sprawl. Its former rural nature is only hinted
at now in placenames like Meadows School, Plant Hill and French Barn
More recently,
the final 2000 completed link in the M60 Orbital Motorway which skirts
its north-eastern boundary, has disturbed what remained of its rural
idyll, and Blackley can no longer be in any doubt that it has been
well and truly incorporated into the Greater Manchester conurbation.
The nearby
North Manchester Business Park is a recent venture aimed at boosting
the local economy and creating new career, training and job opportunities
in the district.

See also

We have made reference to several sources in compiling this web page,
but must make special mention of the Breedon Books’ “Illustrated
History of Manchester’s Suburbs” by Glynis Cooper, of which we
made particular use. Information about this book can be found on our
Books About Manchester webpage.


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This page last updated 10 Mar 09.