Blackley lies in a bend of the River Irk, just south of Boggart Hole Clough and on the east and west sides of Rochdale Road, a major route from Manchester to the north and to the M60 orbital motorway. The village (centre) of Blackley is just to the west of Rochdale Road.
The hamlet of Blackley was mentioned in the Domesday Book. The name derives from the Anglo-Saxon Blæclēah = "dark wood" or "dark clearing". In the 13th and 14th centuries Blackley was referred to as Blakeley or Blakelegh, a spelling that is consistent with the local pronunciation.
By the Middle Ages, Blackley had become a park belonging to the lords of Manchester. Its value in 1282 was recorded as £6 13s 4d, a sum approximately equivalent in buying power to £3,500 today.
The lords of Manchester leased the land from time to time. In 1473 John Byron held the leases on Blackley village, Blackley field, and Pillingworth fields at an annual rent of £33 6s 8d. The Byron family continued to hold the land until the beginning of the 17th century when Blackley was sold in parcels to a number of landowners.
By the middle of the 17th century Blackley was a village of just 107 inhabitants. Blackley today is hardly recognisable as the same rural area that it had been at the start of the 20th century. Now only local place names like Meadows School, Plant Hill or French Barn Lane hint at its rural past.
During the 1930s substantial residential development took place in Blackley to provide overspill housing for Manchester's growing population.
This is an area with a mixture of housing which is mainly council homes—owner-occupied, private renting and housing association. It is part of the "North Manchester Regeneration Area" — a special project set up by Manchester City Council and private company Bellway's to improve existing housing, build new homes and improve the environment. There are about 240 council homes, all managed by Northwards Housing. About 150 are flats in small blocks. The rest are houses (mostly two or three-bedroom, with a handful of larger properties).
Boggart Hole Clough Boggart Hole Clough is a country park where many walks can be undertaken, guided or otherwise. Thanks to recent funding the park now has many leisure facilities; a bowling green, tennis and basketball courts, a boating lake and a children's play area. It has its own permanent orienteering course and an athletics track. Visitors can enjoy family fun days in the summer and an annual firework display.
A site of biological importance and a fine example of one of the country's first Community Woodlands. Planted to commemorate fallen soldiers of the Second World War, the forest is a diverse mix of woodland, grassland and wetlands, dissected by a well established network of paths and steps. The River Irk can be seen in its most natural state, fringed by birch trees with some colonies of autumn crocus.
Heaton Park, at around , is the biggest park in Greater Manchester. It is the grounds of Heaton Hall, a Grade I listed, neoclassical 18th century country mansion. The hall was remodelled to a design by James Wyatt in 1772, and is now open to the public as a museum and events venue. Although the park is officially part of the city of Manchester, two of the entrances are accessed from Middleton Road in Blackley.
Like many areas in Manchester, Blackley is very well served by buses primarily along the main A664 Rochdale Road directly to and from Manchester city centre.
Manchester's M60 orbital motorway is the northern boundary of Blackley.
Blackley Golf Club
The only Saturday team to play in Blackley, they played in the Manchester Premier League. The club lost its ground in Blackley village when it was earmarked for development. The club then moved to Plant Hill Park. It has now disbanded.
Blackley Cricket Club
Blackley Cricket Club currently play in the North Manchester Cricket League. The club is located on Crab Lane.