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Leek Town Information

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Leek, "Capital of the Moorlands", is a town with very interesting past and anyone who enjoys discovering how history affects the present will not be disappointed by a stay here.

From 17th century, the town developed as an industrial centre based on textiles, particularly silk and dyeing, with many large multi-storey mills of which several are still used today - although not necessarily for their original industry.

However, there are still textile manufacturers in the town and several "factory shops" selling famous brand names direct to the public.
The open market, held every Wednesday in the Market Place which is still covered with cobbles, was first established by Royal Charter in 1208.

Adjacent is the Butter Market which today houses stalls selling a variety of goods and produce.

Leek Market. Photo Staffs Moorlands DC

There are many attractive buildings in the town which was particularly influenced by the Sugden family. William, a Yorkshire architect, came to Leek in 1848 to oversee the construction of stations on the Churnet Valley Railway. He set up in business in Leek and his eldest son, William Larner Sugden,  joined the firm in 1881.

The firm was responsible for the design of a wide variety of buildings in the town; residences for the gentry, shops, factories, schools and other public buildings of which the most prominent is probably the Nicholson Institute and the adjoining School of Art built between 1880 and 1900.
The Brindley Mill in Mill Street houses a museum to this supposedly illiterate engineer who was responsible for the construction of many local canals and the first Harecastle canal tunnel at Kidsgrove north of Stoke-on-Trent.

These canals were responsible for much of the development of North Staffordshire as they enabled the cheap and convenient transportation of raw materials and manufactured goods.

Brindley Mill. Photo Staffs Moorlands DC

One of his major achievements in this area was the construction of the Cauldon Canal which linked the Churnet valley with "The Potteries" and via the Trent & Mersey canal to the world beyond.

The town is dominated by St Edward's church. The present building dates back to 1297 when a disastrous fire destroyed its predecessor and boasts a magnificent timber roof of the nave where each cross beam was hewn from a separate oak tree. The Ashenhurst monumental brass inside the church became so popular with brass-rubbers that they were in danger of causing irreparable damage and the process is now prohibited.

No description of Leek could be complete without mentioning the antique shops which seem to flourish in the town. On Saturdays there is even an antiques and crafts market.
From Leek, taking the A53 Buxton road, you will find "Ramshaw Rocks" and "The Roaches", outcrops of dark millstone grit popular with climbers but pleasant countryside for any lovers of the outdoors.

The black rocks have caused this area of high moorland to be named the "dark peak" as distinct from the "white peak", limestone areas further east and south.

Ramshaw Rocks. Photo Staffs Moorlands DC

Continuing on this road will bring you to the turning to Flash, "Highest Village in England - 1,158 feet above sea level" and to Three Shires Head where the county boundaries of Staffordshire, Cheshire, and Derbyshire all meet.