Higher Blackley Community Centre


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Article in The Guardian, Friday 29 October 1965

Combined centre may be trend-setter

Officially opening Manchester’s most ambitious scheme in community buildings – the Higher Blackley Community and Youth Centre – on Wednesday evening last, Mr Paul Rose MP, forecast that it could set a pattern.  The pre-fabricated timber building, which fronts Victoria Avenue, is the first in the city to house adult and youth sections under one roof.

Built and furnished at a cost of £53,000 it incorporates a large hall with stage, ancillary rooms and a snack counter for adults plus a spacious gymnasium, activity rooms, showers, changing rooms and refreshment lounge for the youth section.

Designed, erected and furnished under the direction of the City Architect, Mr S G B Roberts, the centre is a fine example of luxury coupled with serviceability.

To the side and rear of the building there is a car park and games area, which together with the landscaping has been undertaken by the Parks department under the supervision of their director, Mr R C McMillan.

Education committee chairman, Councillor Frank Hatton, JP, presided at the opening ceremony, other members of the platform party being Mrs M Hall (Chairman of Higher Blackley Community Association), Councillor Mrs W Massey (deputy chairman of the Education Committee), Mr J K Elliot (Chief Education Officer), Mrs Eve Rose, Mrs B Cohen, Mr R Hamilton (Warden), Mr H Hall, Mr J Carter and Mr S P B Heppell (deputy city architect).

Councillor Hatton said it was a particularly happy occasion to see the new premises being brought into use for the two groups.  It was a new venture in the city.

“We are living in times when there are very good developments in education services. Sometimes the spotlight seems to fall more on some sections of the service than another.

service than another. Some may well think that perhaps the community service and youth service are two of the sections that do not at all times get the prominence some would like to see.” Said the councillor.

Extending a warm welcome to Mr Rose, the chairman said he understood the MP was particularly concerned with the provision of sport and recreational facilities.


Forecasting that at some future date there could be a 30-hour working week Mr Rose told the gathering “we are living in a society where the amount of leisure available to the individual will be substantially increased.”

Local authorities had to plan very carefully for the purposeful use of leisure time, he said, adding “I for a long time have believed that the whole question of leisure time activities may very well be at the centre of political arguments for a decade from now.”

Dealing with the centre Mr Rose went on, “For those who live in Blackley it is a matter for personal pride for this centre, along with the British Legion Club, will provide a focal point because every community needs a heart.  It is an imaginative scheme in the manner it has combined the talents of the various departments of the corporation.”

Mr Rose paid tribute to those connected with the building of the centre, making particular reference to the City architect.

He mentioned too the debt of gratitude owed to those who kept the spirit of a community centre going for 17 years when they did not have a proper centre.  Prominent among these were Mrs Hall, Councillor F Balcombe and former Councillor Maudsley.