Leek, Staffordshire

Leek, Staffordshire

infobox UK place
country = England
latitude= 53.108
longitude= -2.0234
official_name= Leek
shire_district= Staffordshire Moorlands
region= West Midlands
constituency_westminster= Staffordshire Moorlands
post_town= LEEK
postcode_district = ST13
postcode_area= ST
dial_code= 01538
os_grid_reference= SJ984565
population= 20,288 (2003 Estimate)

static_image_caption=Leek Town Centre.

Leek is a market town in the county of Staffordshire, England, on the River Churnet. It is an ancient borough and was granted its royal charter in 1214.

It is the administrative centre for the Staffordshire Moorlands District Council. King John granted Ranulph de Blundeville, Earl of Chester, the right to hold a weekly Wednesday market and an annual seven-day fair in Leek in 1207.


The town has had a regular cattle market for hundreds of years, reflecting its role as a centre of local farming. During the industrial revolution it became a major producer of textiles. Though this industry has declined somewhat, it has continued through the large number of clothing manufacturers in the town, and the prominence of dyeing and allied trades.The mills from the town's textile era still remain. Many are currently being turned into houses. The town's markets still remain active to this day.

Britannia Building Society has its headquarters based in the town and is a major local employer.

A major employer in the area is the nearby Alton Towers theme park.


Most of the town is at or above convert|600|ft|m and is surrounded by the even higher countryside of the Staffordshire Moorlands which is situated on the southern uplands of the Pennines. Leek is built on the slope and crown of a hill which is situated just a few miles south of The Roaches; a gritsone escarpment which rises steeply to 505m.

The town lies at the foot of the Peak District National Park.

Architecture & Development

Many Victorian period, and older, buildings still stand in the town, many built by the family architectural practice of the Sugdens. In 1849 William Sugden (b. 1821 in Keighley) came to Leek. He was an architect and his work on the design of the stations for the Churnet Valley Railway brought him to the area. In the following year William’s son, Larner Sugden, was born. After schooling in Yorkshire, Larner returned to Leek in 1866 to be apprenticed to his father as an architect, and thus was formed the famous Sugden & Son (Architects), whose influence on the town was to be profound. The firm had offices in Derby Street. The building still survives, the ground floor now being occupied by Boots the Chemist. Larner was a great supporter of the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings, and so Leek’s development was in sympathetic hands.

The architectural output from Sugden & Son was both prolific and varied. Mr. Poole showed numerous slides which illustrated this point well. Some of the buildings designed by the Sugden’s are as follows: the Congregational Church with its 130’ spire, (now Trinity Church), built in the Victorian Gothic Revival style (1863), Myatt’s Mill in Earl Street (1864), Mill Street Methodist Chapel and Ragged School (1870), the Cottage Hospital, in memory of silk manufacturer James Allsop (1871), their own houses in Queen Street, complete with monograms for William, Larner, and for Larner’s French wife (1877), West Street School (extended in 1881), the District Bank, which exhibits a strong Richard Norman Shaw influence (1882) and the Leonard Street Police Station in Scottish Baronial style (1891). This last was probably the last joint venture of the father-and-son team because William Sugden died in 1892.

The Sugden masterpiece was, perhaps, the Nicholson Institute, built in the Queen Anne style, in 1882. The fact that this building is tucked away behind the 17th century ‘Greystones’ is a further indication of Larner’s regard for old buildings. Larner would not countenance demolition of the old building, and so, as the Nicholson’s owned the land to the rear, that is where the Institute was built. Larner cleverly incorporated the busts of Shakespeare, Newton, Reynolds and Tennyson into the building representing 400 years of artistic and scientific achievement from the 16th to the 19th century and embracing literature, science, art and poetry.

In 1899 came the Technical Schools and the Co-operative Society Hall. although the original town centre cattle market was demolished and replaced with a bus station and shopping centre in the 1960s. The new cattle market was built on the edge of town adjacent to the railway station. Later, this was one of the stations closed following Dr. Beeching's recommendations. It was later replaced with a supermarket now owned by Morrisons.

Notable Residents

Leek was the home of James Brindley, the 18th century canal engineer. He built a water-powered corn mill in 1752. This watermill is now preserved as Brindley Water Mill and Museum. [ [http://www.brindleymill.net/ Brindley Mill.] Retrieval Date: 22 August, 2007.]

William Morris, founder of the Arts and Crafts movement, lived and worked in Leek between 1875 and 1878. He studied dyeing. Leek was to provide his firm with silk. Local rumourFact|date=June 2007 suggests that he founded the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings in 1877 as a result of his successful campaign to prevent the demolition of the building that now houses Greystones tearoom, winner of the Tea Council's [ [http://www.tea.co.uk The Tea Council.] Official website. Retrieval Date: 22 August, 2007.] Tea Room of the Year award for 2000. It was through the SPAB that he came into contact with Larner Sugden, the local architect, who went on to publish some of Morris' speeches and essays in a series called the Bijour of Leek.

Terry Ferns, former Leyton Orient footballer and now groundsman at Leek Town Football Club. Kept up his passion for the game, local youngsters affectionatly nicknamed him 'Nosha'.

Former 5 time world professional darts champion Eric Bristow lives in the town.

Tourist Attractions & Leisure

Nearby Rudyard Lake is a popular tourist attraction and home to the Rudyard Lake Steam Railway, running along its eastern shores. Other nearby local attractions are the local football club Leek Town F.C., Alton Towers, the cultural and leisure facilities of the city of Stoke-on-Trent, and the Peak District National Park. Leek's "Double Sunset" also attracts many tourists. Leek is also visited regularly by people from its twinned town Este in Italy, with many events taking place throughout the year.

In May of every year, Leek Arts festival takes place, celebrating the cultural heritage of the Town. According to the festival website, it began as a weekly event but soon expanded to last a whole month.

Just outside the town is Blackbrook Zoological Park which is renown for its large collection of birds.

The surrounding countyside of the Staffordshire Moorlands, Peak District naturally makes the area a popular tourist destination.

Local Transport

The town of Leek is served by First with a regular number 18 bus service (or 16 on an alternative route via Cellarhead). There are also frequent bus services to Sheffield and the nearby town of Buxton using 118 bus.

Leek was served by Leek railway station which was opened by the North Staffordshire Railway on July 13, 1849, but has since been closed.


Leek Town F.C. are the main football team in Leek and are based at Harrison Park.

The club was founded in 1946 and played in a variety of local leagues, including the Staffordshire County League, Manchester League, Mid-Cheshire League and Cheshire County League, before becoming founder members of the North West Counties League in 1982 and from there progressing to the Northern Premier League in 1987. In 1997 they were Northern Premier League champions and gained promotion to the Football Conference, the highest level of English non-league football, although they only spent two seasons at that level before being relegated.

Leek is also home to Leek Hockey Club, based at Leek High Specialist Technology School. Leek RUFC bears the name of the town but is based in nearby Cheddleton.


* Este, Italy.

Events are held throughout the year between Leek and Este, such as cultural and educational exchanges, many of which involve local schools and organisations.


* One legend in Leek is the one of the Mermaid Pool. It is said the pool is bottomless and that the mermaid appears by the lake and draws men to their deaths. [ [http://www.peak-experience.org.uk/tourism/explore-the-guides/peak-experience-guides/bloody-peak/attraction-details/Morridge.html?ContentID=126&PHPSESSID=b8c94cc391219f5820a96bad355bf25b Mermaid Pool Legend.] Retrieval Date: 22 August, 2007.]
* There is also a yearly phenomenon known as the 'Double Sunset'. This event, first recognised by Dr. Plot, occurs when the sun appears to set behind Bosley Cloud, subsequently reappearing in the hollow of the hill's vertical northern side, before setting again. It occurs three or four days before the summer solstice. Dr. Plot's detailed account can be found in his book 'The Natural History of Staffordshire.'
* Leek's Coat of Arms is made up of a Saltire Shield. On the top is the Staffordshire Knot, either side is the famous leek 'Double Sunset' and below a gold garb. The crest is a mural crown with three Mulberry leaves on a Mount of Heather on top of which a Moorcock is resting his claw on a small-weave Shuttle. The motto 'ARTE FAVENTE NIL DESPERANDUM' translates to: Our skill assisting us, we have no cause for despair. The Coat of Arms was granted on 7th May 1956.Fact|date=June 2007
*Leek High Specialist Technology School uses three local rivers as their house names: "Dane", Manifold" and "Churnet".Fact|date=June 2007
*Westwood College uses two towns in staffordshire as two of their house names: "Lichfield" and "Stafford". It also uses the names of two people associated with the school for the names of the other two houses: "Davenport" after the person who built the old part of the school building and "Johnson" after the person who turned the old part of the school from a manor house into an actual school
*Leek has more public houses per square mile than any other town in the United Kingdom.Fact|date=July 2007
*In the grave yard at St. Edward's Church there is a gravestone of a person called James Robinson who died in 1788 and supposedly lived for 438 years


* All Saints' Church of England First School [ [http://www.allsaints-leek.staffs.sch.uk/ All Saints' Church of England First School.] Retrieval Date: 22 August, 2007.]
* Beresford Memorial Church of England First School
* [http://www.blackshawmoor.staffs.sch.uk/ Blackshaw Moor Church of England First School] (in the neighbouring village of Blackshaw Moor)
* [http://www.churnetview.staffs.sch.uk/ Churnet View Middle School]
* [http://atschool.eduweb.co.uk/40867003a Horton Lodge Community Special School and Key Learning Centre] (in the neighbouring village of Horton Lodge)
* [http://www.leek-first.staffs.sch.uk/ Leek First School]
* [http://www.leekhigh.staffs.sch.uk/ Leek High Specialist Technology School]
* Springfield Community Special School
* [http://www.stedwards-first.staffs.sch.uk/ St. Edwards First School] (in the neighbouring village of Cheddleton)
* [http://www.stedwards-middle.staffs.sch.uk/ St. Edwards Middle School]
* St. Mary's Catholic Primary School
* [http://www.stmichaels-horton.staffs.sch.uk/ St. Michael's Church of England First School]
* [http://www.westwoodcollege.staffs.sch.uk// Westwood College] (formerly Westwood High School)
* [http://atschool.eduweb.co.uk/40862229a/ Westwood First School]
* Woodcroft First School

Notes and References

External links

* [http://www.leekonline.co.uk/ Local Leek Website]
* [http://www.leektowncentre.com/ Local Website]
* [http://www.rlsr.org/ Rudyard Lake Steam Railway]
* [http://www.leekartsfestival.org/cal_01.htm Leek Arts Festival]
* [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ne-RmtFP5iI Leeks past in pictures and music]
* [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5E-QVijQJ3c Leeks past in pictures and music No2]
* [http://www.urbanassault.t83.net/#/anziocamp/4525959231/ Exploring Anzio Camp, Military Camp, Leek]

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