A History of the County of Stafford: Volume 7, Leek and the Moorlands. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1996.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.
LEEK AND LOWE (THE TOWN OF LEEK)
The township of Leek and Lowe, 2,722 a. (1,105 ha.) in area, included the town of Leek and a rural area to the east, south, and west. There were also three detached areas, one adjoining the Poolend area of Leekfrith, another on the east side of the Buxton road at Blackshaw Moor, and a small area on the south bank of the river Churnet north of the town. (fn. 1) A market centre by the 13th century and a centre of the silk industry from the 18th century, the town was described in 1793 as the capital of the Moorlands and in the later 19th century as both the metropolis and the queen of the Moorlands. (fn. 2) The style Queen of the Moorlands was used on the signs erected in 1992 on five roads entering the town. (fn. 3) In 1894 the built-up area was taken into the new Leek urban district and civil parish, and the area to the south became the civil parish of Leek and Lowe, renamed Lowe in 1895. The detached portions at Poolend and Blackshaw Moor were added to the civil parishes of Leekfrith and Tittesworth respectively, and the detached portion by the Churnet became part of the urban district. Lowe civil parish was taken into the urban district in 1934. (fn. 4) In 1974 the urban district became a parish in the new district of Staffordshire Moorlands. The present article deals with the former township, but for certain topics it also includes that part of the former Tittesworth township which has become a north-eastern suburb of Leek town. The detached portion at Poolend is treated in the article on Leekfrith, and that at Blackshaw Moor in the article on Tittesworth.
The boundary of Leek and Lowe township was formed by various watercourses except on the north-east: the Churnet on the north-west and west, Leek brook on the south, Kniveden brook, so named by the early 13th century, (fn. 5) on the east, and Ball Haye brook (now culverted) on the north. Ball Haye brook may be the earlier Church brook, mentioned in 1281 as 'kyrkebroke' and in 1569 as a tributary of the Churnet. (fn. 6) The name Leek may derive from either the Old English lece or the Old Norse loekr, both meaning brook. (fn. 7) The brook was perhaps the stream called the Spout Water running down what is now Brook Street (formerly Spout Lane) and the north side of Broad Street, or its tributary which ran from a spring in St. Edward's churchyard down the west side of St. Edward Street (formerly Spout Street). (fn. 8)
The ground rises from below 500 ft. (152 m.) in the flat valley bottoms of the Churnet and Leek brook to 800 ft. (244 m.) on the eastern boundary around Kniveden. The town stands on a spur which is c. 2 miles east–west and c. 1 mile north–south. At the west end Westwood occupies a plateau at 625 ft. (191 m.) from which steep slopes run down to the Churnet on the north, west, and south. The plateau is linked to the higher ground on the east by a broad col from which the ground rises to the small hill occupied by the medieval town. St. Edward's church stands at the highest point, 649 ft. (198 m.), with a steep slope on the north down to Ball Haye brook. The market place and the main streets occupy gentler slopes running south and south-east to a small valley which includes Brook Street. The underlying rock in the western part of the area of the former township is Sherwood Sandstone, through which several of the approaches to the town are cut. In the eastern part the rock is sandstone of the Millstone Grit series. There is Boulder Clay over the rock in the Ball Haye Green area and alluvium along the Churnet. The soil is mostly loam, with sandy soil south of the town. (fn. 9)
In 1086 Leek had a recorded population of 28; in addition there is likely to have been at least one priest. (fn. 10) About 1220 there were 80½ burgages. (fn. 11) In 1327 eight people were assessed for tax in Leek 'cum membris' and 14 in Lowe, while in 1333 there were 33 in both combined. (fn. 12) In 1666 the number assessed for hearth tax was 76 in Leek and 17 in Lowe hamlet. (fn. 13) The population of Leek and Lowe township was 3,489 in 1801 and 3,703 in 1811. It rose to 4,855 in 1821 and 6,374 in 1831 and then grew steadily to reach 12,760 in 1891. (fn. 14)
The population of the urban district in 1901 was 15,484 and of the civil parish of Lowe 176. The figures were 16,663 and 192 in 1911, 17,214 and 255 in 1921, and 18,567 and 299 in 1931. The enlarged urban district had a population of 19,356 in 1951, 19,182 in 1961, and 19,452 in 1971. The population of Leek parish was 19,724 in 1981 and 19,518 in 1991. (fn. 15)
The name Lowe may be derived from a burial mound. Two have been identified within the area of the former township. Cock Low, recorded as 'Catteslowe' in the later 16th century and as Cock Lowe or Great Lowe in 1723, (fn. 16) stood south- west of the town between Waterloo Road and Spring Gardens. In 1851, when it was described as 40 yd. in diameter and 18 ft. high, an excavation uncovered a flint implement and fragments of an urn and of human bone. The mound was destroyed in 1907 in the course of the development of the area, but an urn containing a cremation burial of the early or middle Bronze Age was discovered and also a heart-shaped carved stone. (fn. 17) In 1859 workmen digging in Birchall meadows west of the Cheddleton road broke into a mound where a cinerary urn was discovered. (fn. 18) A Roman road ran through the Leek area, and coins forming part of a hoard found 2 miles south of the town in the earlier 1770s were said to bear the inscription of the Gallic emperor Victorinus (269–71). (fn. 19)
The Middle Ages.
Leek was probably an ecclesiastical centre c. 1000. In the later 12th and early 13th century it was a stopping place for the earls of Chester, the lords of Leek manor, who may have had a house there. Standing at the junction of several roads, the town was a commercial centre by the 13th century. In 1207 the king confirmed to Earl Ranulph a weekly market and an annual seven-day fair, and the earl established a borough probably about the same time. In 1214 he founded Dieulacres abbey beside the Churnet a mile north of the town and in 1232 granted Leek manor to the monks, who renewed the borough charter.
Until the 19th century the town consisted mainly of the area round the market place and of the streets leading off it, presumably the plan of the early 13th-century borough. Originally the market place probably extended to the west side of what is now St. Edward Street, thus forming the north-west corner of the town. The convergence of roads on the north-west, southwest and east sides of the town and the pattern of property boundaries suggest that the medieval town may have had a hard boundary, perhaps an earth bank pierced with gates. (fn. 20) The town was ravaged by fire in 1297, (fn. 21) but that presumably did not alter its plan.
There was also settlement along the road to Macclesfield on the north-west side of the town and the road to Newcastle-under-Lyme on the south-west. The first gave access to a mill by the Churnet, and the stretch by the mill was known as Mill Street by the earlier 16th century when a suburb had grown up there. (fn. 22) The steep part down from the town, also known as Mill Street by the earlier 19th century, was simply 'the hollow lane' in the later 17th century. (fn. 23) Abbey Green Road, which branches north from the Macclesfield road to cross the Churnet at Broad's bridge, (fn. 24) was presumably a road leading to Dieulacres abbey in the Middle Ages. It formed part of the road from Leek to Buxton (Derb.) until the later 18th century. A way evidently ran from the area of St. Edward's church down to Abbey Green Road along what is now Brow Hill footpath parallel to Mill Street and may have been another medieval route to the abbey. There was probably a medieval road to Westwood 1 mile west of the town, where Dieulacres had established a grange by 1291. Another probably linked the abbey and the grange along the present Kiln Lane, which continues Abbey Green Road across the Macclesfield road.
The Newcastle road, which crosses the Churnet at Wall bridge, was presumably the medieval Wall Street, where there was a burgage in the 13th century and where several people were living in the 1330s. (fn. 25) There may have been settlement at Woodcroft on the west side of the Newcastle road by the early 13th century, when there was mention of three bondmen at Wildecroft in the earl of Chester's fee of Leek. (fn. 26)
Moorhouse south-east of the medieval town may have been an occupied site by the 13th century. (fn. 27) By 1503 the house had passed by marriage from the Bailey family to John Jodrell of Yeardsley, in Taxall (Ches.), and it was still the home of the Jodrell family in 1700. Probably soon afterwards it passed to the Grosvenor family, which owned the 65-a. Moorhouse farm in the mid 19th century. (fn. 28) The farm survived in the earlier 20th century. (fn. 29)
In the area south of the town there was evidently settlement in the area of the present Ballington wood by the early 13th century, when Ralph of Baliden was a tenant in the fee of Leek. (fn. 30) Further south Dieulacres had established a grange at Birchall by 1246. Lowe Hill was probably an inhabited area by the earlier 14th century. (fn. 31) There was a farm at Kniveden to the north by 1535, when it was held of Dieulacres by Thomas Smith; (fn. 32) having bought it in 1562, the family remained there until the 1840s when they moved to the nearby Dee Bank Farm. (fn. 33) At the Dissolution Dieulacres had a farm called Sheephouse on the Cheddleton road near the southern boundary. (fn. 34)
The spring south of the town to the east of the Cheddleton road was evidently named in honour of Our Lady in the Middle Ages. The area was known as Lady Wall Dale in the late 16th century, (fn. 35) and the spring is now called as Lady o' th' Dale well. A 19th-century stone structure survives there. Within living memory the water was used by local people for healing purposes, and there was also a May Day procession to the site by children from St. Mary's Roman Catholic church. (fn. 36)
THE 16TH AND 17TH CENTURIES.
Dieulacres abbey was dissolved in 1538, and the town's borough status seems to have been lost after the grant of most of the abbey's property, including Leek manor, to Sir Ralph Bagnall in 1552. At the beginning of the 17th century the town was noted for its market, which in the 1670s was one of the three most important in Staffordshire. On the other hand the buildings were then 'but poor and for the most part thatched'. (fn. 37)
It is likely that all or most of the surviving timber-framed buildings are of the 16th or 17th century, although later encased in stone or brick. Nos. 2–4 Clerk Bank and the Black Swan inn in Sheepmarket contain cruck frames. Nos. 2–4 Church Street on the north side of the market place incorporate the remains of a 16th-century timber-framed building, whose front was probably jettied. At the rear is another timber-framed building, originally detached, which has a large fireplace and may have been a kitchen. In the 17th century the front of the house was reconstructed in stone and a timber staircase turret and an attic floor were added. The work may well have been carried out for Thomas Parker, a lawyer, between 1662 and 1666. (fn. 38) The largest timber-framed building was probably the Hall House, later the Red Lion inn, on the east side of the market place. It was built, apparently in 1607, by Thomas Jolliffe, who like earlier members of his family had prospered in the wool trade. It contained an ornamented plaster ceiling with a representation of the triumph of death, now preserved at the School of Art. It was later refronted, apparently in 1791. (fn. 39) The ornamental framing of the Roebuck inn of 1626 in Derby Street (fn. 40) and of the former Black's Head at the south end of the market place (fn. 41) suggests that the use of timber could be for display. Stone, however, had become the normal building material by the late 17th century. (fn. 42) Its use is visible in party walls, as at no. 47 Derby Street and no. 13 St. Edward Street. Another example of a stone house is no. 7 Stockwell Street, where despite an 18th-century brick façade a stone gable is visible. By the late 17th century, on the evidence of Greystones in Stockwell Street, a symmetrical stone front was fashionable, although the windows there still have stone mullions.
The streets around the market place can be traced by name from the 17th century only, those on the west side probably being encroachments. Church Street was so named by 1634. (fn. 43) St. Edward Street was formerly Spout Street, a name in use by 1637; the present name was adopted in 1866. (fn. 44) Sheepmarket was evidently a street by 1646. (fn. 45) Stanley Street was formerly Custard Street, a name which may have been derived from costard, a large kind of apple; it too was renamed in 1866. (fn. 46) East of the market place Stockwell Street (also known as Stockwood Street in the 1690s) and Derby Street were so named by the 1630s. (fn. 47) There were no streets in the area between them until the 19th century.
The earliest known inn is the Swan, in existence by the 1560s. (fn. 48) It may not, however, be identifiable with the present Swan on the corner of St. Edward Street and Mill Street, which existed as the Green Dragon by 1693 and was still so called in 1750. It was known as the Angel in 1781 and as the Swan in 1786. (fn. 49) The Roebuck in Derby Street is dated 1626, although the earliest known mention of an inn of that name is in 1773. (fn. 50) The Cock on the corner of the market place and Stockwell Street existed by 1666 and was sold by the Mellor family to John Toft of Haregate, in Tittesworth, in 1728. (fn. 51) In 1740 it had 18 rooms with one or more beds in them. (fn. 52) It was converted into a bank in the earlier 1820s, but a new Cock inn was opened nearby. (fn. 53) There was a Red Lion by 1698; its site is not known, but the Hall House in the market place had been turned into an inn of that name by 1751. (fn. 54)
There was settlement on the west side of the town by the earlier 17th century, probably as a result of the piecemeal inclosure of Leek field, in progress by the end of the 16th century. Barngates and Beggars Way (presumably the later Beggars Lane) were inhabited areas by 1638, (fn. 55) and c. 1670 a few houses were built in Back of the Street (later Belle Vue Road) on the north-west side of the field. (fn. 56) Barnfields farm east of the Newcastle road evidently existed by 1675. (fn. 57) East of the Cheddleton road Ballington Grange Farm existed as Cowhay Farm by 1608. (fn. 58) The main part of the nearby Home Farm (formerly Bone Farm) carries the date 1628, although the cross wing is probably a little earlier. There was settlement on Leek moor east of the town by the 1630s. (fn. 59)
During the Civil War Leek, like the Moorlands generally, was strongly parliamentarian. A royalist force came into the Leek area in November 1642 but was driven away. (fn. 60) In February 1643 a band of Moorlanders mounted an unsuccessful attack on Stafford. They appealed to the parliamentary commanders in Cheshire and Derbyshire for assistance but received only an offer of a few men to be sent to Leek to help with training. (fn. 61) By May a parliamentary garrison had been established at Leek, and its commander, Lt.-Col. Peter Stepkin, and some of the Moorlanders played a prominent part in the capture of Stafford that month. (fn. 62) Royalist forces under Lord Eythin entered Leek in December. (fn. 63) By March 1644, however, a parliamentary committee had been set up there; it was one of three in Staffordshire, the others being at Stafford and Tamworth. (fn. 64) In May Col. John Bowyer of Knypersley in Biddulph was appointed governor of Leek. (fn. 65) When he took the garrison to help in the attack on Shrewsbury in February 1645, townships in Totmonslow hundred were ordered to send armed watchmen to guard Leek. (fn. 66) Arrangements were still being made in September 1647 for quartering troops in the Leek area. (fn. 67)
THE 18TH CENTURY.
Although Samuel Johnson, visiting Leek in 1777, pronounced it 'a poor town', (fn. 68) the 18th century saw a marked increase in its prosperity. By the middle of the century there were seven annual fairs, with an eighth by the 1790s. The silk industry had reached the town by the 1670s and developed steadily in the 18th century, with buttons as the staple product. By the end of the century, though still a domestic industry, it employed some 2,000 people in the town and 1,000 in the neighbourhood. In the course of the century dyeing became established in the area at the junction of Mill Street and Abbey Green Road, using the water of the Churnet. Communications were improved with the turnpiking of the five main roads into the town in the earlier 1760s. In the course of the 18th century the town was supplied with water piped from two reservoirs on Leek moor.
The town was largely rebuilt in the 18th century with brick replacing stone as the dominant building material. The former grammar school of 1723 in Clerk Bank has a symmetrical ashlar front, but by the middle of the century red brick had become the fashionable material for frontages. In St. Edward's Street no. 64, with rain-water hoppers dated 1747, has a brick front which rises to three full storeys; it contrasts with no. 62, dated 1724, which has an ashlar front of two storeys with attics. The more important houses built after the middle of the century are generally of three storeys and have parapets. Most have a moulded stone cornice, whilst the smaller houses have a wooden cornice or no cornice at all.
By 1749 there was an inn at the south end of the market place known then and in 1764 variously as the Buffalo's Head and the Bull's Head. In 1764 the lane to the south-east running down to what is now Brook Street was called Blackmoreshead Lane, and the inn was known as the Blackmoor's Head by 1773. (fn. 69) Recorded as the Blackamoor's Head in 1818, it was the Black's Head by the early 1820s. (fn. 70) The timber-framed building (fn. 71) was rebuilt in the late 1850s to the design of William Sugden, and in 1931 the inn was converted into a 'fancy bazaar' by F. W. Woolworth & Co. Ltd. (fn. 72) The George, a coaching inn on the corner of Spout Street and Church Street, existed by 1776 and was probably built in the 1760s. (fn. 73) The Golden Lion in Church Street existed by 1786, and probably by 1756 when the house on the site was sold to the tenant, William Allen, described as an innholder. (fn. 74) Both the George and the Golden Lion were demolished in 1972 for the widening of Church Street. (fn. 75)
Pickwood farm south-east of the town evidently existed by 1705, and Samuel Toft, a button merchant, had cattle and goods there worth £29 at the time of his death, evidently in 1732. (fn. 76) Wall Bridge farm off the Newcastle road existed by 1775. (fn. 77)
Thomas Parker (1667–1732) was born at the house now nos. 2–4 Church Street, the son of Thomas Parker, a lawyer. Appointed Lord Chief Justice in 1710, he was created Baron Parker of Macclesfield in 1716 and earl of Macclesfield in 1721. He was Lord Chancellor from 1718 to 1725, when he was impeached for corruption and found guilty. (fn. 78) He bought the manor of Leek in 1723, and the same year he built the grammar school.
In 1715 several people in Leek declared for the Pretender, and the mob damaged the Presbyterian meeting house. (fn. 79) There is little evidence of such Jacobite sympathies in 1745 when Prince Charles Edward and his army passed through Leek on their way to Derby and again on their retreat north. (fn. 80) On 3 December a detachment under Lord George Murray passed through Leek on its way to Ashbourne. The main force with the prince arrived in Leek later the same day and took up quarters there, the prince staying at the house (later called Foxlowe) of William Mills, a lawyer. The Quaker meeting house was broken into and used as a stable. The troops began to leave for Ashbourne and Derby in the small hours of the 4th. Some remained behind and tried to seize the horses of people coming to the market; two of the soldiers were arrested and sent to Stafford gaol. The prince, retreating from Derby, was back in Leek on 7 December. The vanguard of his army went on to Macclesfield and the rest followed on the 8th. The houses of the principal inhabitants of Leek were reported as 'totally stripped and plundered', apparently in revenge for the arrest of the two horse thieves. The duke of Cumberland passed through Leek with the pursuing force on the 10th and was entertained in the market place.
THE EARLIER 19TH CENTURY.
In the 1830s Leek was described as one of the handsomest market towns in Staffordshire. (fn. 81) Spout Street was the main residential street by the early 19th century and had several large houses. Derby Street had a few large houses and several smaller ones, and Stockwell Street contained c. 30 houses. (fn. 82) In 1826 a foreign visitor noted 'stone houses with gable windows decorated with balls and acroteria, thatched roof above. Brick buildings with attractive mouldings and brick gables.' (fn. 83)
The town's silk industry continued to develop in the earlier 19th century, and the first mills were established. A dyeworks was opened at Leekbrook in 1830 by Joshua Wardle. In the 1820s a fortnightly cattle market was introduced during part of the year and new fairs were started. In 1825 a body of improvement commissioners was set up for the town. A gas works was opened on the Newcastle road by the Leek Gas Light Co. in 1827. In 1837 Leek became the centre of a poor-law union. A branch canal was opened in 1801 from the Caldon canal in Endon to a wharf and basin off the Newcastle road; the part of the road from there to the town, known as Spooner's Lane by the 1660s, (fn. 84) was Canal Street by 1838. (fn. 85) The Churnet Valley railway was opened through the area west of the town in 1849 with a station on the Newcastle road.
By the 1820s the town was expanding on all sides. On the east a suburb grew up on either side of Fountain Street, an older road evidently taking its name from the 18th-century reservoir at its eastern end. It was linked with the Buxton road by the later 18th century, apparently along the line of what was called Osborne Street by 1838. (fn. 86) There were buildings along the Buxton and Ashbourne roads by 1820, and Cross Street and Well Street off the Ashbourne road were built up by then; there were also a few buildings in Fountain Street itself. (fn. 87) Ball Haye Street, Queen Street, Earl Street, and King Street (renamed Regent Street by 1834) had been laid out by 1826. (fn. 88) The part of Portland Street between Fountain Street and the Buxton road existed by 1834. (fn. 89) The Ashbourne road was known as London Road by 1838; it was renamed Ashbourne Road at the beginning of the 20th century. (fn. 90) An ecclesiastical parish centring on the suburb was created in 1845, and St. Luke's church was opened in 1848 on a site between Queen Street and Fountain Street, where a school had been opened in 1847.
Compton, the northern part of the Cheddleton road, was so named by 1817. (fn. 91) Two streets to the west, Albion Street and King Street, were laid out in the mid 1820s and consisted mainly of silk weavers' cottages; Albion silk mill was completed in the late 1820s. A silk mill was opened in Workhouse (later Brook) Street in 1823–4, and silk weavers' cottages had been built in London Street to the south by the 1830s. Roebuck Lane to the east had been renamed Russell Street by 1848. (fn. 92)
On the west side of the town, land at Barngates was advertised in 1815 as a suitable site for a large factory. (fn. 93) Two brothers, Samuel and William Phillips, were silk manufacturers there in 1818. They lived in the early 19th-century house known as the Field. Samuel died in 1851 and William in 1871, and the house passed to Thomas Whittles. (fn. 94) West Street existed by 1829. (fn. 95) Back of the Street had been renamed Belle Vue by 1841. (fn. 96)
On the north side of the town Union Street and New Street had been laid out off Stockwell Street by 1829, when four silk manufacturers had premises there. (fn. 97) The street linking them was at first called New Street but was renamed Horton Street in 1866. (fn. 98)
The period saw the beginnings of a suburb north-east of the town and partly in Tittesworth township. In 1824 the Leek Building Society began the erection of 42 houses on the north side of the Haregate road at Ball Haye Green, all of which were completed by 1829. There were buildings on the opposite side of the road there by 1832. (fn. 99)
From 1803 French prisoners of war, mostly naval and military officers, were held at Leek, the last group arriving in 1812. Many were exchanged for British prisoners, and 44 escaped; at any one time there seem to have been around 140 in the town. Some were accompanied by servants and a few by their families. Two companies of militia and a squadron of yeomanry were assigned to guard the prisoners, who enjoyed considerable freedom. They were on parole to stay within a radius of one mile from the market place and were welcomed into local society. Most left with the coming of peace in 1814. Some married locally and stayed in Leek, the last dying in 1874. (fn. 100) The tradition that they lived in the area north of St. Edward's church which was becoming known as Petty France by 1816 is improbable; the houses there were built by James Fernyhough after he had bought the land in 1808. The name Petty France may derive from the proximity of the part of the churchyard where several prisoners were buried. (fn. 101)
In 1817 four hundred workers from Manchester arrived at Leek on their way to London to present their grievances to the government. They were known as the Blanketeers from the blankets which they carried with them. They were not allowed to stay in Leek and continued towards Ashbourne. A few hours after their departure Edward Powys, the incumbent of Cheddleton and a magistrate, called out the Leek troop of yeomanry and went in pursuit of the marchers. He caught up with them at Hanging Bridge on the county boundary in Mayfield and dispersed them. They then tried to return to Leek. Only about 30 succeeded, and they were escorted to Macclesfield by some of the 400 special constables sworn in by Powys. (fn. 102)
There was unrest in the town in the 1830s and 1840s. Attempts by handloom weavers to defend and improve rates of pay for piecework led to at least one strike in 1834. (fn. 103) A short-lived silk operatives' union had been formed by May that year when over 400 men and women marched through the town with considerable ceremony at the funeral of a fellow member. (fn. 104) The mill hands struck against a pay cut in 1838. A government commissioner who came to Leek later that year and John Richards, a Chartist missionary who formed a political union in the town in 1839, found many of the hands poverty-stricken and resentful. (fn. 105) In January 1842 the Leek branch (1840–6) of the Anti-Corn Law League sponsored a petition to the queen from the women of Leek that drew attention to working-class distress in the town. (fn. 106)
Leek became involved in the Chartist unrest later in 1842. (fn. 107) On Saturday 13 August groups of young men arrived in the town, claiming to be strikers from neighbouring manufacturing towns, and they went round begging at houses. The following day the Leek magistrates were warned that several thousand men who were occupying Congleton were preparing to march on Leek. The magistrates swore in at least 350 special constables and sent to the Potteries for troops. They seem also to have organized a mounted patrol of the parish. On the morning of 15 August the Newcastle and Pottery troop of yeomanry cavalry arrived. Young men and boys, armed with bludgeons, were already drifting into the town from the direction of Congleton, but the main body of marchers, variously estimated at 2,000 and 4,000 men, did not arrive until 11 a.m. They were mainly from Congleton and Macclesfield, with a few from Stockport and Manchester.
Preceded by a band, they marched into the market place, where they were confronted by the magistrates, the yeomanry, and the specials. There was a brief altercation, but when the marchers assured the magistrates that no violence was intended, they were allowed to pass. Some begged through the town in groups for food and money. Others went round the silk mills and dyeworks, forcing those that had not already been closed by a strike to shut. The marchers then went to the cattle market for a meeting at which their leaders called on the Leek workers present to join a general strike. In the afternoon most of the marchers returned to Congleton, but some remained to organize a march on the Potteries the following day, 16 August. They slept in a plantation on the Ball Haye estate and were fed by local sympathizers.
There were riots in the Potteries on 15 August, and on the 16th the Newcastle and Pottery yeomanry returned from Leek before dawn to restore order. A few hours later the marchers who had remained at Leek overnight set off for the Potteries, accompanied by a large number of Leek workers. A troop of dragoons had already been called out to deal with looting in Burslem, and a magistrate, receiving news of the approach of the Leek and Congleton men, read the Riot Act. The marchers arrived and began to stone the dragoons, who opened fire. Several people were wounded, and Josiah Heapy, a 19-year-old Leek shoemaker, was killed. The dragoons then charged the crowd and dispersed it.
Later that day the leading inhabitants of Leek, fearing that their town would again be overrun, sent urgent appeals to the authorities for troops. In the evening they handed out a large amount of bread to the poor. On 17 August the district army commander agreed to send a company of the 34th Regiment of Foot and also the Lichfield troop of yeomanry, which was in Newcastle. The yeomanry may have reached Leek the same day; the infantry arrived early on the 18th. Heapy's funeral at St. Edward's later that day apparently led to no disorder, and the silk masters and dyers reopened their works the following morning. The troops were still at Leek on 20 August, but there seem to have been no further disturbances.
In September two Sunday school teachers were disciplined for involvement with the Chartists. Charles Rathbone, the master at St. Edward's Sunday school, had joined the march from Leek to Burslem. He expressed regret but was suspended for two months without pay. (fn. 108) Elizabeth Phillips, the mistress at the school, was reported as having declared her support for the Chartists. She refused to express regret and was dismissed. (fn. 109)
THE LATER 19TH CENTURY.
The town continued to expand steadily. Its silk industry became concentrated in factories, and several large firms were established. Leek also increased its importance as a market town, with a new cattle market in 1874 and a covered butter market in 1897. A new body of improvement commissioners was established in 1855 with wider powers than its predecessor, and in 1894 it was replaced by an urban district council. A Leek parliamentary division covering north-east Staffordshire was created in 1885 as one of seven new divisions for the county. The town was the centre of Leek rural district, with offices initially at the premises of Challinors & Shaw, solicitors of Derby Street, and in Russell Street by 1900. (fn. 110)
In the 1850s and 1860s streets were built over the area between Derby Street and Stockwell Street. Market Street, Silk Street, York Street, and Deansgate were laid out in 1855, (fn. 111) and Ford Street and Bath Street were completed in 1863. Ford Street was named after Hugh Ford (d. 1830), who had owned land, and Bath Street took its name from the baths opened at its junction with Derby Street in 1854. In 1863 the Leek and Moorlands Permanent Benefit Building Society, established in 1856, offered 44 building lots for sale in the two new streets and in Derby Street, Stockwell Street (which had been widened and raised to improve access), and Market Street. (fn. 112) In the 1890s plans for remodelling the east side of the market place aroused opposition and were modified to include only the butter market and a new fire station in Stockwell Street. (fn. 113)
The area south of the town centre was developed mainly in the 1870s. Workhouse Street, renamed Brook Street in 1867, (fn. 114) had been extended to London Road as Haywood Street by 1874. The extension provided a bypass round the town centre and also a direct link via Canal Street (renamed Broad Street in 1881) (fn. 115) between the railway station and the new cattle market in Haywood Street. The first part of Leonard Street running south from Haywood Street was built in the mid 1870s, and Shoobridge Street to the west in the late 1870s. The three streets were named after Leonard Haywood Shoobridge, who owned the land. (fn. 116) By 1878 three new streets had been laid out to the south-east, Cromwell Terrace, Livingstone Street, and Talbot Street, (fn. 117) linking with streets laid out over part of Moorhouse farm south of London Road. Moorhouse Street, so named by 1867, existed by 1863, Grosvenor Street by 1867, and Wood Street by 1872. (fn. 118)
Several silk manufacturers had their premises in Compton by the mid 19th century, (fn. 119) and the area on the east was being developed by then. Cornhill Street and Jolliffe Street were described as intended new streets in 1848, and Duke Street and South Street existed by 1856. (fn. 120) The west end of Southbank Street existed by 1871, and it was extended east c. 1881. (fn. 121) West of Compton, Alsop Street was laid out in the earlier 1850s over land belonging to James Alsop, a promoter of the Leek Benefit Building Society, which built the houses there. (fn. 122) Dampier Street and Hugo Street were laid out in 1874–5. (fn. 123) Hartington Street and Daintry Street had been added by 1891 and 1893, and three houses were designed for Spencer Street (later Spencer Avenue) in 1899. (fn. 124) Further south a cemetery was opened at Cornhill Cross in 1857, and at the same time Junction Road was laid out by John Davenport of Westwood Hall across Barnfields farm to link the Cheddleton and Newcastle roads. (fn. 125) An Anglican school-church was opened for the area in 1863.
On the west side of the town a suburb of mills and workers' houses grew up around West Street. Albert Street existed by 1850, when 13 building plots there were offered for sale. (fn. 126) Land to the west between Belle Vue, West Street, and the southern end of Garden Street had been laid out as 24 building plots by 1851. (fn. 127) Angle Street in the same area was in existence by 1857 but was not so named until 1867. (fn. 128) A mill in West Street became Britannia Mill after partial rebuilding c. 1850, and Britannia Street to the south, in existence as a road by 1838, was so named by 1851. (fn. 129) The first house in Westwood Terrace linking West Street and Britannia Street was built in 1851, (fn. 130) and in 1856 eight building plots there were advertised as 'eligible sites for a better class of houses'. (fn. 131) There were 10 households there in 1861. (fn. 132) Wellington Mills in Strangman's Walk (later Strangman Street) were built in 1853. Wellington Street linking Britannia Street and Strangman's Walk had been built by 1854, when four newly erected houses there were advertised for sale. (fn. 133) Grove Street further west and Westwood Grove, its continuation, had been laid out with building plots by 1879. (fn. 134) Chorley Street and Gladstone Street east of Wellington Street had been built by 1880 and 1881 on a recreation ground bought for the purpose in 1878. (fn. 135) To the west Picton Street existed by 1891 and Barngate Street by 1893 with Cruso Street running south to Broad Street. (fn. 136) Waterloo Street presumably existed by 1894, when Waterloo Mills were built there. Sneyd Street linking Strangman's Walk and Broad Street existed by 1898. (fn. 137) The North Street area and the corresponding part of Westwood Road represent further westward development of the early 1890s. (fn. 138)
On the east there was further expansion between Buxton Road and London Road, notably with the building and extension of silk mills between Fountain Street and London Road from the 1860s by J. and J. Brough, Nicholson & Co. Brunswick Street dates from the earlier 1850s, (fn. 139) and Portland Street was extended south to London Road c. 1889. (fn. 140)
The suburb on the north-east of the town continued to develop from the 1850s. At Ball Haye Green, Nelson Street was laid out in 1853 on part of the Ball Haye estate. (fn. 141) By 1857 Milk Street, Prince Street, and Pump Street were being built up, although they were not officially named until 1867. (fn. 142) Park Road running from Ball Haye Road to Abbey Green Road across the Ball Haye estate was built in 1854. (fn. 143) Eleven cottages making up Inkerman Terrace at its west end were built shortly afterwards. (fn. 144) Vicarage Road at the east end of Park Road was constructed c. 1894 to bypass the steeper Ball Haye Road. It was named in 1910 after the nearby vicarage house of St. Luke's parish. (fn. 145) Further east Weston Street off Buxton Road and the adjoining Victoria Street existed by 1856, the first evidently taking its name from the owner of the land, (fn. 146) and houses were built at the junction of Abbotts Road and Novi Lane in the mid 1850s. (fn. 147)
Joshua Brough, of the silk-manufacturing firm of Joshua and James Brough & Co., built Buxton Villa on Buxton Road by its junction with Abbotts Road at the time of his marriage in 1837 to the daughter of William Spooner Littlehales of Erdington (Warws.). (fn. 148) In 1880 their son William Spooner Brough built a house on the opposite side of Buxton Road and called it Littlehales. He inherited Buxton Villa in 1885 and lived their until his death in 1917. He laid out the Waste north of the junction of Buxton Road and Novi Lane and gave it to the town for recreational purposes. He also laid out a garden next to Littlehales and opened it to the public. In addition he planted an avenue of trees along Buxton Road. (fn. 149)
The Broughs belonged to a group of men, of differing religious and politcal persuasions, who were prominent in the affairs of the town and set their mark on its cultural life. (fn. 150) They included silk manufacturers such as Joshua Nicholson (d. 1885), Hugh Sleigh (d. 1901), and Sir Thomas Wardle (d. 1909), and professional men such as the lawyers William Challinor (d. 1896) and his younger brother Joseph (d. 1908). (fn. 151) Wardle brought William Morris to Leek in 1875 to experiment on dyes, and Wardle's wife Elizabeth founded the Leek Embroidery Society a few years later. Hugh Sleigh and Joseph Challinor promoted the building (1885– 7) of All Saints' church in Compton, designed by Norman Shaw and decorated by members of the Arts and Crafts movement. Shaw had come to the area in the late 1860s to design the rebuilding of Meerbrook church in Leekfrith, and he also designed Spout Hall, Sleigh's house in St. Edward Street built in 1873. (fn. 152) Members of the Arts and Crafts movement also contributed to the decoration and furnishings of the William Morris Labour Church, opened in the Friends' meeting house at Overton Bank in 1896 chiefly through the influence of Larner Sugden, of the architectural firm of W. Sugden & Son.
Leek still owes much of its appearance to the work of Larner and his father William during the second half of the 19th century. (fn. 153) William Sugden came to Leek as architect and surveyor of the Churnet Valley railway line, opened in 1849. That year he set up on his own account. His buildings show a range of style. The West Street Wesleyan school (1854) is in a subdued Classical style, Rose Bank House (1857) in Rose Bank Street is plain, and Big Mill (by 1857) in Mill Street, though of an impressive size, is utilitarian and similar to many other mills in northern textile towns. He used a Gothic style for Brunswick Wesleyan Methodist chapel (1857) in Market Street and for the cemetery chapels (1857), and the Derby Street Congregational chapel (1863) is in a Decorated style. He introduced pointed windows into the Cottage Hospital (1870). Meanwhile he used an Italian style for the mechanics' institute (1862) in Russell Street. Larner was already working for his father by the time he was taken into partnership in 1881. He widened the practice and was responsible for the Queen Anne style of many of its later buildings, which also display considerable eclecticism. His own house at no. 29 Queen Street (1877) shows his liking for moulded brick, which is also seen in other houses such as nos. 33–35 Bath Street (1880) and Woodcroft, a house of the earlier 1880s (fn. 154) for which the firm designed additions in 1891. Moulded brick is also used at the ornate Ballington House, apparently of the later 1870s, to which the firm may have made additions. (fn. 155) At W. S. Brough's Littlehales (1880) Larner combined brick with timber framing. The District Bank (1883) in Derby Street incorporates tripartite windows whose design derives from buildings of c. 1600 in Ipswich (Suff.). The Nicholson Institute (1884) is in the Queen Anne style. The police station (1892) in Leonard Streeet has a main elevation derived from the Scottish Baronial style, the extension to J. and J. Brough, Nicholson & Co.'s Cross Street warehouse (probably 1892–3) is in a Classical style, and Sanders Buildings (1894) on the corner of Derby Street and Haywood Street show the influence of the Arts and Crafts movement. William died in 1892, and it seems that the architectural dominance of the practice was waning some years before Larner's death in 1901. Larner designed the co-operative society's central premises (1899) in the Ashbourne road and the extension (1900) of the Nicholson Institute. In the later 1890s, however, it was the less inventive J. T. Brealey who designed two important public buildings, the butter market (1897) and the fire station (1898).
THE 20TH CENTURY.
Leek remained an industrial town concerned mainly with textiles, but in the course of the century new fibres, natural and man-made, became predominant and products became more varied. By the 1970s only one firm was still producing silk goods, and it ceased to do so in 1994. Leek also became the United Kingdom headquarters of Kerrygold Co. Ltd., the dairy products firm which took over the business built up by the Adams family from the 1920s. The largest employer in the town in the early 1990s was the Britannia Building Society, which evolved from the Leek and Moorlands Permanent Benefit Building Society of 1856 to become one of the country's leading building societies. Leek also remained a market centre, and in 1994 there were three general markets a week and two cattle markets. A large-scale antiques trade had developed in the town by the late 1980s, with showrooms and warehouses occupying converted buildings such as Cross Street Mill and Compton school. (fn. 156) In 1994 a weekly market was introduced specializing in crafts and antiques.
In 1974 the new Staffordshire Moorlands district was centred on Leek. Initially the council offices were at New Stockwell House in Stockwell Street and in the town hall in Market Street. Moorlands House off Stockwell Street was opened as the new headquarters in 1987; the council chamber was added in 1988. (fn. 157)
In the early 20th century the main expansion of the town was on the west. The growth of the area between Westwood Road and Broad Street continued with the laying out of Langford Street and James Street in 1901 by James Cornes, a Leek builder, who erected 50 workers' houses there specially designed by J. T. Brealey. (fn. 158) Spring Gardens, Morley Street, and Station Street were laid out in 1905. (fn. 159) Shirley Street existed by 1911 and Burton Street by the early 1920s. (fn. 160) Meanwhile new streets of shops and commercial premises were built over the area west of St. Edward Street occupied by the Globe inn and the grounds of the house called the Field. In 1903 the council laid out Salisbury Street, Field Street, and the west end of High Street and offered 34 building plots there for sale. High Street was completed in 1904, the Globe having been demolished. In or soon after 1905 a post office was built on the corner of St. Edward Street and Strangman's Walk, the east end of which was widened and renamed Strangman Street. (fn. 161) The Field was used as a registration centre for those enlisting during the First World War and later became a social club called Leek National Reserve Club. (fn. 162) The north-west end of Belle Vue was widened in 1906 so that the street, renamed Belle Vue Road, opened into Mill Street. A route was thus provided from the foot of Mill Street to the railway station avoiding the town centre; a route was also provided into the town via West Street and High Street avoiding the steep climb up Mill Street. (fn. 163)
The eastern suburb expanded in the early years of the century as far as Shirburn Road, linking the Buxton and Ashbourne roads. (fn. 164) In 1924 work was begun on the Nicholson War Memorial, on the open space at the end of Derby Street then used as part of the cattle market. The memorial, a clock tower of white Portland stone designed by Thomas Worthington & Sons of Manchester, was given by Sir Arthur and Lady Nicholson, whose son Lt. B. L. Nicholson died in action in 1915. It was dedicated in 1925. In 1949 two bronze tablets were unveiled recording the names of those killed during the Second World War. (fn. 165)
The residential areas were greatly extended in the 1920s and 1930s, mainly by the building of council estates. The largest were the Abbottsville and Haregate estates in the north-east. Prince Street was extended south from Ball Haye Green to Buxton Road as part of the Abbottsville estate. The Glebeville estate off Junction Road was built in 1925, adjoining Sandon Road (later Sandon Street) where private development had begun by the early 1920s. A council estate was built in the Station Street area north of Broad Street in 1928. (fn. 166)
A 9-a. estate in Nab Hill Avenue and Hillswood Avenue on the north-west side of the town was built as a private initiative by Solomon Bowcock, the secretary of the Leek United and Midlands Building Society, to provide good houses for people of moderate means. Designed by Longden & Venables, the estate was begun in 1924 and completed in 1927. All 85 houses had two living rooms, a scullery, three bedrooms, a bathroom with a separate lavatory, and a front and back garden. (fn. 167) A number of large houses, also designed by Longden & Venables, were built at Big Birchall on the east side of the Cheddleton road in the mid and later 1920s. (fn. 168) By the later 1930s a private estate had been built west of the Newcastle road over the site and grounds of Woodcroft and over the grounds of Woodcroft Grange, another late 19th-century house. Houses had also been built in Beggars Lane, a continuation of Spring Gardens. Several large houses had been built on the Buxton road between Abbotts Road and Novi Lane. (fn. 169) Earlier large houses in Mount Road include Kniveden Hall, dated 1901.
During the Second World War many children were evacuated to Leek, mainly from Manchester, Liverpool, London, and Essex. (fn. 170) As part of the war effort St. Luke's church hall was fitted up in 1942 as a day nursery for 40 children aged from 2 to 5 in order to free their mothers for work. (fn. 171) The former Ball Haye Street schools were converted into a British restaurant, which continued apparently until 1951, having moved into the Primitive Methodist chapel in Fountain Street after that had closed in 1949. (fn. 172) In March 1941 a German bomber unloaded its bombs on the town, killing one man and damaging several buildings. (fn. 173) A number of aircraft crashed in the Leek area during the war, several of them on the Roaches, Hen Cloud, and Morridge. Most were on training exercises, but in 1941 a German bomber, hit during a raid on Liverpool, came down on the Roaches. In 1990 a board was unveiled in St. Edward's church commemorating the airmen who had been killed. (fn. 174) Thousands of American soldiers passed through the area in 1943 and 1944. Most were based at Blackshaw Moor in Tittesworth, but there was a camp for officers in the grounds of Ball Haye Hall with another for other ranks at Hencroft off Abbey Green Road. (fn. 175)
House building was resumed after 1945. Large council estates had been built by 1955 at Haregate and between Compton and Junction Road. The private Westwood estate was begun in the mid 1950s. (fn. 176) The private Wallbridge Park estate to the south was begun in 1963 and was extended in the early 1970s. (fn. 177) Two industrial estates were developed from the later 1970s at Leekbrook and Barnfields. The latter includes the line of the canal, filled in in 1957, the site of the station, demolished in 1973, the site of Wall Bridge Farm, demolished in 1974, and the area of the pre-1934 sewage farm. (fn. 178) A Safeway superstore was opened on the site of the station in 1990. (fn. 179) Another smaller industrial estate was developed in Station Street on the former town yard in the earlier 1990s. (fn. 180)
In the later 20th century there was extensive demolition of old buildings in the town and some rebuilding. Slum clearance, begun in the 1930s, was resumed after the war. Most of the cottages in Mill Street were demolished between the late 1950s and the earlier 1970s, and flowers, shrubs, and trees were planted there in the mid 1970s. (fn. 181) Petty France was cleared in the 1960s. (fn. 182) In 1962 work began on a bus station and a shopping centre on the site of the former cattle market in Haywood Street. (fn. 183) Most of the buildings belonging to Brough, Nicholson & Hall west of Cross Street were demolished in 1968, and the county council's offices which occupy much of the site were opened in 1976. (fn. 184) In 1972 the south side of Church Street was demolished for road widening. (fn. 185) Much of the area west of Pickwood Road was cleared for the North Midland Co-operative Society's superstore opened in 1984. (fn. 186) Plans for the redevelopment of the area on the east side of the market place were put in hand in 1985 when the district council invited proposals. The scheme finally adopted in 1988 met with strong opposition, and at the local elections in 1991 the Ratepayers group won a number of seats from sitting councillors on both the parish and district councils. In 1994 a new scheme was still under consideration. (fn. 187)
It has been generally thought that a Roman road between Leek and Buxton followed the line of the present Leek–Buxton road. That road, however, seems to have been laid out in 1765–6 under a turnpike Act of 1765. (fn. 188) The line of the Roman road between Leek and Buxton has yet to be established, but it continued south through Cheddleton, Blythe Bridge, Hilderstone, and Stafford to join Watling Street at Pennocrucium (Stretton, in Penkridge). (fn. 189)
Before the 1760s the Leek–Buxton road left the town along Mill Street. It then ran through Leekfrith, via Abbey Green and Upper Hulme, and through Quarnford, in Alstonefield, via Flash, to Wallnook, in Hartington (Derb.), continuing to Buxton along the present route. (fn. 190) There may also have been a medieval road running east from Leek along what is now Fountain Street and turning north-east over Leek moor into Tittesworth. (fn. 191) The road south from Leek to Cheddleton was described in 1430 as part of the highway from Leek to Stafford. (fn. 192)
Leek stood on a medieval road called the Earl's Way, evidently because it linked estates of the earls of Chester. The stretch east of Leek formed the medieval road from Leek to Ashbourne as far as Waterhouses, in Waterfall. North-west of Leek the Earl's Way followed the Macclesfield road through Rudyard as far as Rushton Spencer, where it turned west through Rushton James to Congleton (Ches.). (fn. 193) White's bridge, carrying it across the Churnet, was known as Conyngre bridge in 1430, presumably after a nearby rabbit warren. It was also known as White's bridge by 1636 after the family occupying Coneygray House on the Leekfrith side of the river. (fn. 194) It was then a stone bridge of two small arches, which were inadequate in times of flood. In 1649, by agreement between the inhabitants of Leek and Leekfrith, its rebuilding was begun as a bridge with a single arch, but its completion was delayed by the refusal of some of the inhabitants of Leekfrith to contribute. (fn. 195) A new bridge was built nearby in 1829 (fn. 196) and was widened on both sides in 1931. (fn. 197) Another route from Leek to Macclesfield, recorded c. 1230 and still in use in the earlier 18th century, ran via Abbey Green and Gun, in Leekfrith, and entered Cheshire at Danebridge, in Heaton. (fn. 198)
The road to Newcastle-under-Lyme crosses the Churnet over Wall bridge. In 1244 the monks of Trentham gave the monks of Dieulacres permission to build a bridge there with free access for waggons and carts across Trentham priory's land at Wall in Longsdon township. (fn. 199) The Castle Way (via castelli) in the Wall bridge area mentioned in the mid 13th century (fn. 200) was presumably the Newcastle road. By the early 18th century the bridge was a wooden horse bridge with a dangerous ford adjoining it, and travellers suffered losses and delays from the frequent flooding of the river. In 1712, following a petition from 83 inhabitants of Totmonslow hundred, quarter sessions granted £60 to rebuild the bridge in stone for carts and carriages. (fn. 201) It was widened to the south in 1929. (fn. 202)
All the main roads from Leek were turnpiked in the earlier 1760s. The first were the road south via Cheddleton and the road to Macclesfield via Rudyard, which were turnpiked in 1762 as part of the road from Sandon to Bullock Smithy (later Hazel Grove) in Cheadle (Ches.). (fn. 203) A tollhouse was built that year on the Cheddleton road near Sheephouse Farm. (fn. 204) A bridge was built over Leek brook in 1786–7. (fn. 205) The stretch of the road between the Green Man inn in Compton and Big Birchall was realigned in 1839–40. (fn. 206) The Sandon to Bullock Smithy road was disturnpiked in 1878, and Sheephouse tollhouse was put up for sale. (fn. 207)
The road through Leek between Ashbourne and Congleton was also turnpiked in 1762. (fn. 208) It used the stretch of the Macclesfield road between Leek and Rushton Spencer and became entitled to a share of the tolls when a gate was erected at Rudyard in 1764. (fn. 209) In 1763 the trustees ordered a gate or chain to be placed at Lowe Hill south-east of the town. A tollhouse was built there in or just after 1765. It was sold in 1830 after a new line of road was built to the south in 1828, and it survives as part of a house. A bridge was built to carry the lane from Kniveden to Lowe Hill over the new road. (fn. 210) The cast-iron mileposts on the road date from 1834. (fn. 211) The road was disturnpiked in 1876. (fn. 212)
The road between Newcastle and Hassop (Derb.) via Leek and Longnor, in Alstonefield, was turnpiked in 1765, with a branch to Buxton. (fn. 213) The stretch north-east from Leek seems to have been largely a new road, laid out in 1765–6. (fn. 214) In 1766 the trustees ordered a gate and chain to be placed at the east end of Stockwell Street in Leek pending the building of a tollhouse. (fn. 215) The house was replaced, evidently in the early 1770s, by one at the Mile Tree on Leek moor. (fn. 216) It survives as a private house. The castiron mileposts on the Leek–Buxton road date from 1833, 11 being bought that year. (fn. 217) Southwest of the town a tollhouse was built near the canal wharf probably soon after the opening of the canal in 1801. (fn. 218) The tollhouse went out of use in 1855 and was demolished for road widening in 1860. (fn. 219) It was replaced by one near Wall bridge. (fn. 220) The Buxton road was disturnpiked in 1875 (fn. 221) and the Newcastle road in 1879. (fn. 222)
In 1767 the trustees of the Sandon to Bullock Smithy road announced that their road was completely finished and had 'genteel accommodations, good chaises, able horses, and careful drivers' at Leek as well as elsewhere. They also claimed that the road was the shortest route from London to Manchester. (fn. 223) The LondonManchester mailcoach route established in 1785, however, went to Leek via Ashbourne, while by 1803 Pickfords' wagons between London and Manchester also used that route or went via Buxton. (fn. 224) In the 1790s, besides the mail, coaches between London and Manchester ran daily through Leek in each direction from the George in Spout Street, and there were coaches twice a week to London from the Swan in Spout Street, and three times a week between Manchester and Birmingham in each direction from the Wilkes's Head in Spout Street. (fn. 225) By 1818 there were coaches daily to London, Birmingham, and Manchester, with the Red Lion in Market Place and the Roebuck in Derby Street evidently the main coaching inns. (fn. 226) In the late 1820s there was also a coach between Manchester and Nottingham daily in each direction from the Swan and in the mid 1830s one to Macclesfield three times a week from the Roebuck. (fn. 227) The mail ceased to run through Leek in 1837. (fn. 228)
With the coming of the railway in 1849 omnibuses were introduced from the Red Lion and the Roebuck to the station on the Newcastle road. (fn. 229) By the early 1870s they ran from the Swan and the George also but by 1900 only from the Red Lion and the George. (fn. 230) Motor buses to Hanley, Ashbourne, Cheadle, and Buxton were introduced soon after the First World War. The service to the station from the two hotels had been reduced to market day (Wednesday) by 1924 and had ceased altogether by 1928. There was then a bus service to Butterton, and by 1932 services had been introduced to Macclesfield and Manchester and also to Calton and Longnor. (fn. 231) A bus station was opened on the former cattle market in Haywood Street in 1963. (fn. 232)
The Trent & Mersey Canal Co. planned a branch canal to Leek from Etruria in 1773, and it seems later to have foiled a plan for a Leek canal by another company. (fn. 233) In 1801 it opened a branch canal running from the Caldon canal east of Endon to a basin and wharf on the Newcastle road in Leek and crossing the Churnet by an aqueduct. Traffic on the canal seems never to have been heavy. The transport of coal ceased in 1934, but tar was carried from Milton, in Norton-in-the-Moors, until 1939. The canal was abandoned under an Act of 1944. The stretch north of the Churnet aqueduct was bought by Leek urban district council in 1957 and filled in; the site became part of the Barnfields industrial estate. (fn. 234)
The Churnet Valley railway, opened by the North Staffordshire Railway Co. in 1849 from its main line south of Macclesfield to Uttoxeter, had a station at Leek on the Newcastle road. (fn. 235) The company took over a house nearby and opened it in 1850 as the Churnet Valley Hotel. (fn. 236) Nab Hill tunnel through the high ground to the north was built to resemble a natural cavern in the rock, with no masonry at either entrance. (fn. 237) The station was rebuilt in 1880. (fn. 238)
A line was opened from Stoke-upon-Trent to the Churnet Valley railway at Leekbrook in 1867. (fn. 239) In 1905 a line was opened from Leekbrook to join the Leek & Manifold Valley light railway at Waterhouses. The light railway had been opened to Hulme End in Fawfieldhead, in Alstonefield parish, in 1904, and in the intervening year a steam-powered omnibus was run from Leek to Waterhouses to connect with it. Passenger services were withdrawn from the Leekbrook–Waterhouses line in 1935, a year after the closure of the light railway, and in 1943 the section between Cauldon and Waterhouses was closed. (fn. 240) Passenger services between Leek and Stoke and between Leek and Macclesfield ceased in 1960 and between Leek and Uttoxeter in 1965. The line north from Leek was closed for freight in 1964 and the line from Leek to Leekbrook in 1970. Leek station was demolished in 1973. (fn. 241) The lines from Leekbrook to Cauldon and to Stoke continued in use as mineral lines serving the Caldon Low limestone quarries until 1989. (fn. 242)
MANORS AND OTHER ESTATES
In 1086 LEEK was held by the king, having been held before the Conquest by Alfgar, earl of Mercia. It was assessed at 1 hide 'with the appendages'. (fn. 243) By 1093 it had been granted to Hugh, earl of Chester, (fn. 244) and it then descended with the earldom. The earls may have had a house there by the later 12th century: Earl Hugh of Kevelioc issued charters at Leek c. 1170 and in the earlier 1170s and died there in 1181; his son and heir Ranulph de Blundeville issued a charter there c. 1210. (fn. 245) The manor was in the hands of the king in the 1180s, presumably because of Ranulph's minority. (fn. 246)
In 1232 Ranulph granted the manor to Dieulacres abbey, along with his heart for burial. The king confirmed the grant the day before Ranulph's death that year. (fn. 247) Ranulph's nephew and heir John the Scot later granted the monks homage and services belonging to the manor which he had initially retained. (fn. 248) The manor remained with Dieulacres until the dissolution of the abbey in 1538. By 1291 it had been farmed out for £10 6s. 4d. (fn. 249)
In 1552 the Crown granted what were described as the manors of Leek and Frith with the site of Dieulacres and most of the former abbey's Staffordshire property to Sir Ralph Bagnall at a rent of £105 11s. 7½d. (fn. 250) A staunch Protestant, he was living in France in 1556, and later that year he was found guilty of treason, although he was pardoned in 1557. (fn. 251) He had conveyed the property to his brother Sir Nicholas, who in 1556 conveyed it to Valentine Brown. (fn. 252) Sir Ralph recovered it from Brown in 1560. (fn. 253) He was sheriff of Staffordshire in 1560– 1. (fn. 254) In 1580, having sold much of the property, he was succeeded by his nephew Sir Henry Bagnall, who conveyed the manors of Leek and Frith in 1597 to Thomas Rudyard. (fn. 255) The manors then descended with Rudyard manor, passing in 1723 to Thomas Parker, earl of Macclesfield, on his second attempt to buy them. (fn. 256) A court was still held for the joint manors of Leek and Frith by the earl of Macclesfield in the mid 19th century. (fn. 257)
The rent of £105 11s. 7½d. reserved by the Crown in 1552 was in arrears to the amount of £446 3s. 9d. in 1572. (fn. 258) In 1609 it was granted to Sir Christopher Hatton and Sir Francis Needham. They sold small parts of it to John Rothwell of Leek in 1610 and Henry Wardle of Leekfrith in 1612. (fn. 259) Hatton's son Christopher, Baron Hatton, made a further sale to William Jolliffe of Leek in 1642–3. (fn. 260)
Within a few years of the foundation of Dieulacres abbey Ranulph son of Peter granted the monks all right in the land of BIRCHALL, an estate which he and his father had held. (fn. 261) By 1246 the monks had established a grange there, which was described in 1345 as the manor of Birchall Grange. (fn. 262)
The grange was included in the grant of the abbey's property to Sir Ralph Bagnall in 1552. (fn. 263) In 1563 Bagnall conveyed it to William Egerton of Fenton, in Stoke-upon-Trent. (fn. 264) It then descended with the Egerton family's share of Horton manor until 1623 when Timothy Egerton and his brother Thomas conveyed it to William Jolliffe of Leek. (fn. 265) Jolliffe died in 1669 and was succeeded by his son Thomas (d. 1693). Thomas was followed by his sons John, of Botham Hall in Cheddleton (d. 1694), and Benjamin, of Cofton Hackett, Worcs. (d. 1719). Benjamin's son and heir Thomas died unmarried in 1758. (fn. 266)
In 1765 Thomas's trustees conveyed what was then known as Great Birchall farm, with the nearby Sheephouse farm (also a property of Dieulacres abbey) and Barnfield (later Barnfields) farm (evidently in existence by 1675), to his nephews Michael, Benjamin, and Francis Biddulph. (fn. 267) In 1766 the Biddulphs sold the farms to Harry Lankford of Hurdsfield in Prestbury (Ches.). (fn. 268) He was declared bankrupt in 1773, and in 1774 his assignees sold the three farms to Allwood Wilkinson of Chesterfield (Derb.), who was still alive in 1778. (fn. 269) Under Wilkinson's will of 1777 his estates passed to his eleven cousins, one of whom, Isaac Wilkinson, bought out the rest in 1786. (fn. 270) He died in 1831, and his heir was George Yeldham Ricketts, who under the terms of Isaac's will took the name of Wilkinson. (fn. 271) In 1841 he sold the three farms to John Davenport of Westwood Hall. (fn. 272) John's grandson George Davenport sold what had become known as Big Birchall to Howard Haywood in 1866 (fn. 273) and Barnfields farm to Joseph Challinor of Leek in 1892. (fn. 274) A sewage farm was opened at Barnfields in 1899. (fn. 275) The farmhouse at Big Birchall was still standing in 1928 but was later demolished. (fn. 276)
Dieulacres abbey had established a grange at WESTWOOD by 1291 and possibly by 1246. (fn. 277) The estate may have been granted to the monks by Flora, daughter of William of Cockshut. In 1293 William's great-grandson Thomas, son of Robert of Olynleye (perhaps Hollinhay in Longsdon), claimed a toft and 120 a. at Westwood as William's heir, but a jury upheld the abbot's claim that William had enfeoffed Flora with the land before he died. (fn. 278)
The grange was included in the grant of the abbey's property to Sir Ralph Bagnall in 1552. (fn. 279) It later passed to Ralph Adderley of Coton in Hanbury, who was succeeded by his son William in 1595. In 1604 William conveyed it to Francis Trentham of Rocester. (fn. 280) Francis was succeeded in 1626 by his son Sir Thomas, and when Sir Thomas died in 1628 his widow Prudence went to live at Westwood. (fn. 281) Their son Francis, a minor in 1628, was succeeded in 1644 by his father's brother Sir Christopher (d. 1649) and Christopher by his brother William (d. 1652). William's heir was Francis's daughter Elizabeth, a minor, who by 1657 was the wife of Richard Cockayne, later Viscount Cullen. (fn. 282)
Westwood was the home of Ralph Lees in 1666, when he was assessed for tax on seven hearths. (fn. 283) By the early 18th century the farm was the property of William Jolliffe of Caverswall Castle. On his death in 1709 it passed to his daughter Lucy (d. 1742), wife of William Vane, in 1720 created Viscount Vane (d. 1734). (fn. 284) In 1728 the farm, occupied by Caleb Morrice, covered 403 a., but the house was in a bad state of repair; there was also a 14-a. farm. (fn. 285) In 1759 William, Viscount Vane, son of William and Lucy, sold the reversion of what were described then and in 1735 as the manor or lordship of Westwood and the farm or grange called Westwood to Mary, countess of Stamford. (fn. 286) By the time of Lord Vane's death in 1789 she had been succeeded by her second son Booth Grey, who was succeeded by his son Booth in 1802. (fn. 287)
The younger Booth sold the estate in 1813 to John Davenport, a potter and glassmaker of Longport in Burslem and a native of Leek. (fn. 288) He died at Westwood in 1848 with his son John as his heir. (fn. 289) Both of them greatly enlarged the estate by buying neighbouring farms. (fn. 290) The younger John, who was appointed sheriff in 1854, died in 1862. His son George sold Westwood Hall with much of the estate to John Robinson in 1868. (fn. 291) Robinson was sheriff in 1882, the last to be accompanied by javelin men; the javelins were later kept at Westwood Hall. He died in 1902, leaving the house to his wife Helen with reversion to his three sons. (fn. 292) Helen Robinson continued to live at Westwood Hall until her death in 1908, and by 1912 it was the home of H. J. Johnson. (fn. 293) In 1920 he sold it to Staffordshire county council, which turned it into a school. (fn. 294)
In 1804 the farmhouse called Westwood was offered for sale with 212 a. as potentially 'a pleasant and convenient country residence'. (fn. 295) In 1818 John Davenport began improvements, and by 1834 the house, then known as Westwood Hall, was 'a neat mansion with extensive plantations and pleasure grounds'. (fn. 296) He added a new south entrance front and a wing to the northeast, employing James Elmes as his architect. The enlarged house, of two storeys with attics, was in the Elizabethan style with curved gables and mullioned and transomed windows. (fn. 297) In 1851 John Davenport the younger made further extensions, designed by Weightman, Hadfield & Goldie of Sheffield and including a great hall and tower at the west end of the south front and extensive buildings around a courtyard on the north-west. The extensions, which were in stone on the principal elevations and dark red brick elsewhere, were in a plain Elizabethan style, and the surviving elevations by Elmes were altered to conform to it. (fn. 298)
The improvements to the grounds made by John Davenport the elder included a terraced lawn to the east of the house with an ornamental retaining wall, entrance gates to the south-east, and a Gothick outbuilding with tower and spire to the south-west. (fn. 299) Further south-west are early 19th-century stables, which were used as farm buildings after coach houses and stables were built west of the house in the mid 19th century. By 1864 much of the plateau on which the house stands and the adjacent slopes had been landscaped with a mixture of small woods and fields. A lodge was built on the eastern drive in 1852, (fn. 300) and there was another at the entrance to the southern drive on the Newcastle road near Wall bridge by 1861. (fn. 301) Both survive as houses.
The endowments given to Chester abbey by Hugh, earl of Chester, in 1093 included all tithes from his manor of Leek. (fn. 302) In the earlier 1220s, however, Leek church was appropriated to Dieulacres abbey, (fn. 303) and the RECTORY was held by the monks until the dissolution of the abbey in 1538. In 1291 Leek church with a dependent chapel, presumably either Horton or Ipstones, was valued at £28. (fn. 304) In 1535 the rectory consisted of £1 4s. rent from the Leek glebe land, £18 3s. 8d. from the great tithes belonging to Leek church, £17 from the other tithes, £7 5s. 4d. from the Easter Roll, and £2 6s. 8d. from offerings. (fn. 305) In 1538–9 the rectory was valued at £63 4s. 8d. (fn. 306) There were then tithe barns at Birchall grange, at Fowlchurch grange in Tittesworth, at Endon, and evidently at Heaton and Longsdon. (fn. 307)
In 1560 the rectory was granted to Sir Ralph Bagnall at a fee-farm rent of £51 3s., given as the value of the rectory. The grant was made in recognition of his service and in consideration of all money owed him for his service in Ireland. (fn. 308) Sir Ralph sold most of the tithes to the owners of the property on which they were due. (fn. 309) His nephew and heir Sir Henry Bagnall sold what was called the rectory to Thomas Rudyard with the manor and the advowson of Leek in 1597, and the rectory still formed part of the Rudyard Hall estate in 1677. (fn. 310) In 1610 the Crown granted the fee-farm rent to Sir Christopher Hatton and Sir Francis Needham, to whom the fee-farm rent for Leek manor had already been granted. They sold small parts of both to John Rothwell of Leek later the same year. (fn. 311)
In 1086 Leek manor had 12 ploughteams, and there were 15 villani and 13 bordars with 6 teams. There were 3 a. of meadow, and woodland measured 4 leagues in length and 4 in breadth. The value of the manor had increased from £4 in 1066 to £5 in 1086. (fn. 312)
At £5 the value of Leek manor in 1086 was relatively high for Staffordshire, (fn. 313) a fact which may indicate a well developed pastoral economy. Cattle farming appears to have been important in the late 12th century: in 1182–3 thirty-two cows were bought to complete the stocking of the manor. (fn. 314) Bee keeping too seems to have been important, with 5s. being raised by the sale of honey from the manor in 1184–5. (fn. 315) Dieulacres abbey, having acquired Leek manor, established a grange at Birchall by 1246 and possibly another at Westwood. (fn. 316) In 1291 Westwood grange consisted of 2 carucates worth £1 a year, and there was also 6s. 8d. a year from the sale of meadow. (fn. 317) The monks were evidently involved in arable farming at the granges c. 1500, with stock farming also at Birchall. There were 20 draught oxen at Birchall in 1490 and 10 with 2 heifers in 1501. In 1502 Birchall had 20 draught oxen, an unspecified number of cows (6 in 1508), and 200 sheep, while at Westwood there were 10 draught oxen. (fn. 318) By the 1530s both granges had been leased to the Brereton family of Westwood, Westwood grange then being known as the grange of Westwood and Woodcroft. (fn. 319) There was a tithe barn at Birchall at the Dissolution and in 1563. (fn. 320)
Leek's early 13th-century borough charter granted each burgess 1 a. in the fields. (fn. 321) In the late 16th century an open field called Leek town field extended from the Nab Hill area and Belle Vue Road to the east side of the Cheddleton road. (fn. 322) Piecemeal inclosure was then in progress there. (fn. 323)
By the later 17th century over 40 a. of common waste on the north side of the town field, consisting of Woodcroft heath, Westwood heath, and land at Nab Hill and Back of the Street (later Belle Vue Road), passed to the freeholders of Leek and Lowe township. The income from the rents charged for pasturing horses there and rents from houses built at Back of the Street was used for the repair of the highways and other public purposes. By 1711 the income was £2 15s. 6d. (fn. 324) Under the Leek inclosure Act of 1805 and the award of 1811 what were then known as the Town Lands were vested in seven freeholders as trustees who were to manage them and keep accounts. In addition 5 a. on Leek moor east of the town were assigned to them. (fn. 325) By 1849 over 10 a. had been lost, mainly through failure to collect the rents. The 34 a. remaining produced rents of £90 19s. (fn. 326) In 1878 the 64-a. Dee Bank farm in Mount Road was acquired from John Robinson of Westwood Hall in exchange for 19 a. at Westwood. The income of the Town Lands trust in 1990–1 was £7,334, derived from the rent of Dee Bank farm and from investments; £5,340 was spent on donations, mainly to local organizations, the income having to be used for the benefit of the inhabitants of Leek and Lowe. (fn. 327)
By 1708 freeholders were attempting action against incroachments on Leek moor east of the town. (fn. 328) In 1790 fifteen people with rights in the commons and waste of the manors of Leek and Frith signed an agreement to prosecute commoners who overloaded the commons and others without common rights who put sheep and cattle on the commons. The cost was to be divided according to the value of each signatory's holding, and a meeting of commoners was arranged at the Marquess of Granby inn at Leek. (fn. 329) The part of Leek moor which remained common waste was inclosed in 1811 under the Act of 1805. (fn. 330)
Of the 851 ha. in Leek civil parish returned in 1988, 732 ha. were grassland, 73 ha. rough grazing, and 42 ha. woodland. There were 1,869 head of cattle, including calves, and 444 sheep, including 204 breeding ewes and 212 lambs. Of the 35 holdings returned, 11 were full-time farms, 10 of them entirely devoted to dairying and the other mainly so. All were under 100 ha. in size, with only five of 50 ha. or more. (fn. 331)
In 1542 there was one free tenement in Leek and Lowe. Four other tenements, including Birchall Grange, owed rent, two capons worth 6d., one day's ploughing worth 3d., and one day's reaping worth 3d., while a fifth, Westwood Grange, owed rent, four capons, and two days of each work. (fn. 332)
A gardener named William Hyde was living in Leek in 1757, and there was another named Matthew Washington in Spout Street in 1762. (fn. 333) There were two gardeners and seedsmen in the town in 1818. (fn. 334) Four listed in 1834 and 1851 included William Nunns, who landscaped the ground on the west side of Rudyard Lake in 1851. His nursery was at Barngates in 1849 when plants, rhubarb, and cabbages were stolen from it. (fn. 335)
Leek and District Agricultural and Horticultural Society held its first show in 1895 on a farm at Belle Vue. (fn. 336) The show lapsed in 1955 but was revived in 1962. In the early 1990s it was still held as an annual event at Birchall. (fn. 337)
WARRENS AND FISHERIES.
There may have been a rabbit warren in the area south-east of the town in the 13th century. (fn. 338) There was evidently a warren at Westwood at some period. In 1728 Westwood farm included the 13-a. Cunney Greave and in 1804 a close called the Rabbit Warren. In 1864 three fields south-west of Westwood Hall and then part of Wallbridge farm were called Rabbit Burrow. (fn. 339)
A fishery in the Churnet formed part of the Birchall Grange estate in 1565. (fn. 340) In 1884 there was a protest that the river between Leek and Rocester was being contaminated by effluent from print and dye works and by Leek's sewage, with a consequent threat to the fishing. (fn. 341) Fish in the Leek–Cheddleton stretch of the river were eventually wiped out, but by the mid 1970s there was again good fishing there. In 1989 the National Rivers Authority, having released over 2,000 chub and dace into the Churnet at Leek and Cheddleton answered fears about their survival by stating that dyeworks effluent was then harmless and that the only danger was from the Leekbrook sewage works. (fn. 342) In 1992 the Leek and District Fly Fishing Club secured an out-ofcourt settlement from Severn Trent Water for the loss of fishing rights in the river between Kingsley and Alton since 1984 as a result of pollution from the sewage works. New treatment processes completed at the works in 1992 were designed to produce an improvement in the effluent discharged into the river. (fn. 343)
Ranulph, earl of Chester, had a mill at Leek by the mid 12th century. (fn. 344) The borough charter granted by his grandson Earl Ranulph de Blundeville stipulated that the burgesses of Leek were to grind their corn at his mill 'immediately after that which shall be in the hopper', paying a toll of one twentieth of the grain brought for grinding. (fn. 345) In the early 1220s Ranulph granted the mill to the monks of Dieulacres, c. 10 years before granting them the manor. He stated that his bailiffs would exact from the men of the manor suit at the mill on behalf of the monks and the customary work on the mill and its pool. (fn. 346) When the abbot renewed the borough charter after the grant of the manor, he included the clause relating to the grinding of the burgesses' corn. (fn. 347) The mill was valued at £1 in 1291. (fn. 348) At the Dissolution the abbey had two water mills at Leek. (fn. 349) One was evidently on the Churnet in Mill Street: that was the site of a mill in 1733, and Mill Street was so named by the earlier 16th century. (fn. 350) The other mill may have been at Birchall, where the abbey had a mill on the Churnet in the 13th century. (fn. 351)
In 1552 the Crown granted the mills with the manor to Sir Ralph Bagnall, who conveyed them to Ralph Rudyard in 1565. (fn. 352) In 1563 the jurors of the manor court stated that the tenants might grind their corn where they pleased, (fn. 353) but the Rudyards later challenged the claim. About 1615 Timothy Egerton of Wall Grange in Longsdon erected a horse mill at Birchall, but Thomas Rudyard forced him to abandon it. By 1632 Randle Ashenhurst of Ashenhurst in Bradnop had a horse mill in the town, and in 1635 Thomas Rudyard's son Thomas challenged his right, claiming that the inhabitants of the manor were obliged to grind at Thomas's mills at Leek and Dieulacres and pay a toll of one sixteenth. That claim was itself challenged in the subsequent inquiry, at least as far as corn bought outside the manor was concerned. It was also pointed out that the horse mill proved especially useful when the manorial mills were put out of action by floods or frosts. (fn. 354) The horse mill was probably in Derby Street where the Hollinsheads, the Ashenhursts' successors at Ashenhurst, had a horse mill in 1675, 1704, and 1721. (fn. 355)
The mill in Mill Street was rebuilt in 1752 by James Brindley, the engineer, who had set up as a millwright in Mill Street in 1742. (fn. 356) The mill remained in operation until the 1940s, and part of it was demolished for road widening in 1948. The building was bought in 1972 by a trust formed for the purpose. It was restored and in 1974 was opened as a working mill and a museum. (fn. 357)
L. Whittles & Son opened a steam mill in Strangman's Walk (later Strangman Street) c. 1890. It ceased to be steam-powered c. 1930 but was still in operation in the mid 1970s. (fn. 358)
MARKETS AND FAIRS.
In 1207 King John confirmed to Ranulph, earl of Chester, a market every Wednesday in the manor of Leek and a seven-day fair beginning three days before the feast of St. Edward (probably 20 June, the feast of the Second Translation of Edward the Martyr, or 13 October, the feast of the Translation of Edward the Confessor). (fn. 359) The borough charter granted by Earl Ranulph shortly afterwards stipulated that those coming to the market and the fair should pay only the same toll as was paid in the other free markets of Staffordshire. (fn. 360) About 1220 the earl received 20s. from tolls. (fn. 361) The right to a market and a fair passed to Dieulacres abbey, presumably with the manor in 1232, but the abbot's renewal of the borough charter made no mention of the payment of toll. (fn. 362) The fair was still held around the feast of St. Edward in the earlier 14th century, (fn. 363) but by the Dissolution it was held on the feast of St. Arnulf (18 July) and the seven days following. (fn. 364)
The right to a market and a fair was included in the Crown's grant of most of the former abbey's Staffordshire property to Sir Ralph Bagnall in 1552 and in the sale of the manor to Thomas Rudyard in 1597. (fn. 365) In 1629, however, the Crown granted Thomas Jodrell of Moorhouse in Leek the right to a three-day fair in May with a court of pie powder, tolls, and other dues. (fn. 366) The Jodrells acquired the market tolls as well. It was as bailiff of the town or of the market and collector of the market tolls that Thomas's great-nephew John Jodrell claimed a seat in the north aisle of the parish church in 1669, adding that his father, grandfather, and ancestors had held the seat by the same right. (fn. 367) John's son William succeeded in 1696, and c. 1700 he mortgaged the market and fair tolls to John Sutton and William Grosvenor, a Leek physician. Both sets of tolls were conveyed to Grosvenor in 1722. (fn. 368) By 1791 they were owned by his grandson Thomas Fenton Grosvenor (d. 1831) and Henry Manifold, vicar of Brackley, Northants. (d. 1803); in 1792 Manifold offered to sell his half share to Grosvenor for 1,000 guineas. (fn. 369) The offer was evidently not accepted since in 1825 the owners were Grosvenor and Henry Townsend. (fn. 370) In 1855 the tolls were owned by Grosvenor's widow Mary, Edward Rooke, and the trustee of Grosvenor's will. (fn. 371) They were bought from Mrs. Grosvenor and Edward Rooke by the Leek improvement commissioners in 1859. (fn. 372)
The town was noted for its market c. 1600. (fn. 373) In the earlier 1670s, with a considerable trade in cattle, sheep, oats, and provisions, the market was ranked the third most important in the county, after Uttoxeter and Wolverhampton. (fn. 374) Wednesday was then still the market day, but in 1688 there was mention of Leek's 'new market day'. (fn. 375) Wednesday was the only market day in the late 18th century. (fn. 376) By 1822 a cattle market was held every alternate Wednesday from 28 July until Christmas. (fn. 377) It was held throughout the year by the later 1880s, and probably from 1867 when the Privy Council licensed a fortnightly cattle market at Leek. (fn. 378) It became a weekly market c. 1910. (fn. 379) There was a Saturday market by 1850, dealing chiefly in meat and vegetables; it evidently lapsed about the late 1880s. (fn. 380) Wednesday remains the main market day, but a Saturday general market had been introduced by the early 1960s and another on Friday by the early 1980s. (fn. 381) A Monday cattle market specializing in calves was started in 1994, following the closure of the smithfield at Newcastle-under-Lyme. (fn. 382) An outdoor Saturday market specializing in crafts and antiques was also begun in 1994. (fn. 383)
In the 17th century there were several fairs: there was a fair on All Souls' Day (2 November) in 1622, (fn. 384) the fair granted to Thomas Jodrell in 1629 was on 7, 8, and 9 May, (fn. 385) and 17 July was a fair day c. 1680. (fn. 386) By the mid 18th century Leek had seven fairs a year, on the Wednesday before 2 February, the Wednesday in Easter week, 7 May, the Wednesday after Whitsun, 22 June, 17 July, and 2 November; all the fixed dates moved on 11 days with the change in the calendar in 1752. (fn. 387) An additional fair on the Wednesday after 10 October was held by the late 1790s. (fn. 388) A fair on the first Wednesday in January was introduced in 1814, but the same year it was changed to the last Wednesday in December; it was a hiring fair by 1834. (fn. 389) Monthly cheese fairs were being held by 1820, but from 1821 they were reduced to three a year, in March, September, and November. (fn. 390) The fair on 3 July had dwindled to a fair for the sale of scythes by the mid 19th century, and even that was nominal by the later 1860s. (fn. 391) By 1867 the November fair included a hiring fair. (fn. 392) By 1887 the cheese fairs were held in February, August, and October, and the July fairs were changed to the first and last Wednesdays of that month early in the 20th century. (fn. 393) All the fairs were still listed in 1940. (fn. 394) The November hiring fair continued as a pleasure fair until 1960. (fn. 395) A pleasure fair formed part of the May fair by the mid 19th century (fn. 396) and was still held in the early 1990s.
The main venue for the markets and fairs was the market place, which probably once extended west to St. Edward Street. The names Sheepmarket and Custard (later Stanley) Street for the two streets linking the present Market Place with St. Edward Street suggest areas of specialized trading. (fn. 397) The market cross was mentioned regularly between 1654 and 1658 as a place where banns were published. (fn. 398) In 1671 a cross was erected at the south end of the market place by one of the Jolliffe family, probably Thomas. It was moved to Cornhill on the Cheddleton road in 1806 when a public hall was built on its site. In 1857 the Cornhill site was required for the chapels of the new cemetery, and the cross was re-erected in the cemetery on a new base. It was moved back to the market place in 1986. (fn. 399) The ground floor of the public hall of 1806 was left open for use by the market people, but they found it dark and inconvenient and soon abandoned it. (fn. 400) By the 1780s the stalls used at the markets and fairs were stored in a building in Derby Street known as the stall barn; it was still so used in 1863 when it was offered for sale. (fn. 401) A covered butter market designed by J. T. Brealey of Leek and Hanley was opened on the east side of the market place in 1897, and a poultry market was added in 1902. The building was again extended in 1936, but soon after 1945 the two earlier portions were adapted to provide fixed lock-up stalls. (fn. 402)
Other parts of the town were also used. In 1586 the inhabitants of Leek were presented at quarter sessions for allowing fairs and markets to be held in the churchyard. (fn. 403) An open space at the east end of Derby Street bought by the trustees of the Town Lands from the earl of Macclesfield in 1827 was used for the fortnightly cattle market. (fn. 404) By the 1870s, however, animals offered for sale were clogging the streets of the town, and in 1874 the improvement commissioners opened a smithfield in Haywood Street, banning all livestock sales in the streets. (fn. 405) The site at the end of Derby Street continued to be used as an overflow smithfield and also as a fairground and a venue for travelling theatrical companies until the earlier 1920s when the Memorial Clock Tower was built there. (fn. 406) The Haywood Street smithfield was enlarged in 1894 by the addition of the land in Leonard Street occupied by the town yard. A building on the Ashbourne Road side of the smithfield was bought in 1877 and converted into a coffee tavern and a room for transacting business. In 1960 the cattle market was transferred to a 7-a. site off Junction Road in the south-west of the town, and a bus station and a shopping precinct were built on the Haywood Street site. (fn. 407) The May fair, having been held on the Haywood Street smithfield, (fn. 408) was also transferred to the new smithfield.
TRADE AND INDUSTRY.
The 17th and 18th centuries.
The suggestion that silk working was brought to Leek by French Protestant refugees after 1685 was based on a misreading of the Leek churchwardens' accounts. (fn. 409) Thomas Wardle, a leading figure in the industry in the 19th century, stated plausibly that the twisting of sewing silks came to Leek from Macclesfield (Ches.). (fn. 410) The first clear evidence of silk working in Leek dates from 1672. John Wood, a silk weaver of Derby Street, died that year possessing silk worth over £300, 'shop goods' worth £100, including ribbons known as galloons, and looms and wheels worth £4 1s. (fn. 411)
His son Jonathan was a silk weaver living in Leek in 1682, (fn. 412) and there are references to other silk weavers in the late 17th and early 18th century. (fn. 413) The ribbons among the stock of Mary Davenport, a Leek chapwoman, at her death in 1737 (fn. 414) may have been made locally.
The wheels possessed by John Wood in 1672 may indicate that he was twisting his own yarn. In 1732 Leek joined with Manchester, Macclesfield, and Stockport in petitioning against the renewal of John Lombe's patent for his silkthrowing mill in Derby; the petitioners included manufacturers of silk and mohair yarn and twisters and twiners of mohair, cotton, worsted, and probably linen thread. (fn. 415) Joseph Myott of Church Street, described as a silk weaver in 1728, had a twisting alley next to his house in 1734. (fn. 416) It seems, however, that the twisting of mohair rather than silk predominated in Leek for much of the 18th century. In 1729 Joseph Jackson held a shed (locally known as a shade) for twisting mohair at Spout Gate at the south end of Spout Street (later St. Edward Street). (fn. 417) A Joseph Myott was twisting mohair in 1764 in a shade situated behind the Buffalo's Head inn at the south end of the market place and described in 1749 as newly erected. In 1773 it was used for stretching and drying mohair by Messrs. Phillips and Ford, button merchants. (fn. 418) William Badnall (d. 1760) of Mill Street worked as a dyer by 1734 and possibly by 1725, with dyehouses by the Churnet in Abbey Green Road at its junction with Mill Street. He was described as a mohair dyer in 1736. In 1758 he bought the bankrupt Richard Ferne's linen-thread works on the opposite side of Abbey Green Road, which included a dyehouse by Ball Haye brook. It is not known that he ever engaged in silk dyeing. (fn. 419) Ferne was described as a thread merchant in 1743 and as a threadmaker in 1754; his dyehouse was newly erected in 1743, when he also had 'poles for drying linen yarn' by the brook. (fn. 420) John Finney of Leek, who died in 1740, was then described as a cheese factor, but his house and shop contained flax, hemp, jersey, woollen and linen cloth, and woollen and worsted yarn. In addition there were hose for adults and children, caps, and a stocking frame. (fn. 421)
Buttons were the staple of Leek's textile industry until the later 18th century, consisting of moulds covered with various threads including mohair and silk. About 1680 the poor people of the area were said to employ themselves 'much in making of button'. (fn. 422) Buttons formed part of John Wood's stock at his death in 1672, and he was retrospectively described as a button man 10 years later. (fn. 423) Matthew Stubbs of Leek (d. 1692) combined trade with farming, and besides cloth his stock in 1692 contained a large quantity of buttons, including thread buttons, hair buttons, and braid buttons. (fn. 424) In 1721 Leek joined with several Cheshire towns in successfully petitioning on behalf of all employed in the manufacture of 'needle-wrought buttons' for the passing of an Act banning the wearing of cloth buttons and buttonholes. (fn. 425) Samuel Toft, a Quaker button merchant of Leek, had stock worth £634 6s. 'in the shops at Salop and Hereford' at the time of his death, evidently in 1732. (fn. 426) Richard Wilkes, a mid 18th-century Staffordshire antiquary, noted Leek's 'great trade of making buttons for men's clothes of hair, mohair, silk thread etc. . . . Many hundreds of poor people are employed in this manufacture, get a good livelihood, and bring great riches to the gentlemen that procure materials to set them to work and patterns to please the wearer.' (fn. 427)
The improvement of communications in the later 18th century and the ban on the import of silk goods in 1765 encouraged the development of the Leek silk industry. Button making declined with the growth the metal-button industry in Birmingham at the end of the century, but the production of ribbons increased. In 1760 the mayor of Coventry stated that he had sent materials to Leek as well as Congleton (Ches.) to be made up into ribbons. (fn. 428) Another Coventry man, Thomas Horton, is said to have introduced the weaving of figured ribbons in Leek c. 1800. (fn. 429) Five ribbon manufacturers were listed at Leek in 1784, two of them also making buttons and silk twist, and there were four other makers of buttons and twist, two of them also producing sewing silk. (fn. 430) By 1797 the shade behind the Buffalo's Head was used for stretching and drying silk as well as mohair. (fn. 431) The Badnall family's works was engaged in silk dyeing by the 1780s under the management of William's son Joseph. Thomas Ball was dyeing silk in the 1790s in Mill Street, and he was still in business in 1809. (fn. 432) In 1795 it was stated that Leek's considerable silk industry was producing sewing silks, twist, buttons, silk ferrets, shawls, and silk handkerchiefs. The industry, in which good fortunes had been made, employed c. 2,000 people living in the town and 1,000 in the neighbourhood. (fn. 433)
The earlier 19th century.
The industry remained predominantly domestic or quasi-domestic until well into the 19th century, with manufacturers giving out the raw material to 'undertakers' to be woven or twisted and then receiving the finished products at their warehouses. There were seven mills in the town by 1835, but it was not until the later 19th century that factory working became fully established.
Weaving was organized by undertakers owning a number of looms and employing journeymen and apprentices. (fn. 434) The work was carried out on the second floor over groups of two or more houses, the space being lit by elongated windows and ventilated by means of sliding frames; the undertaker lived in one of the houses. Examples of such three-storeyed houses survive in Albion Street and King Street (1820s) and London Street (by the 1830s). (fn. 435) An earlier example may be the mid 18th-century houses in Derby Street (nos. 23 and 25), which have three- and four-light casement windows on the second floor. A further example was the group of six dwellings built in 1823 in what later became Wood Street by William Thompson, a broad-silk weaver, and demolished in 1968. Four of the dwellings, built as two back-to-back pairs, had a workshop on the top floor, which was not integrated with the living accommodation but had its own staircase and external door. (fn. 436)
In 1818 there were c. 200 ribbon weavers working engine looms and c. 100 working single handlooms. In addition there were between 50 and 60 broad-silk weavers, producing handkerchiefs, shawls, and silk varying in breadth between 18 in. and 1½ yd. There had been upwards of 100 such weavers in 1815, but since then prices and wages had fallen. (fn. 437) The easing of duties on imported silk and manufactured goods in the mid 1820s led to a further depression. (fn. 438) The increasing use of steam power in silk weaving meant the growth in the number of factories and the decline of domestic working. In 1818 there was only one factory, and that had only a few looms. (fn. 439) It stood in Mill Street and was run by Richard Badnall and William Laugharn, who appear to have been using steam power by 1816. (fn. 440) A foreign visitor in 1826 described it as a 'fine factory building, at the end of the town, quite new, most splendid position in the whole place'; he made sketches of the spinning apparatus, which he also described in detail. (fn. 441) In 1835 there were seven mills (one unoccupied), with 119 power looms; they employed 744 people, 477 of them female. (fn. 442) In 1839 John Wreford had 50 looms in his mill in London Street established in 1823–4; Anthony Ward & Co., a firm dating from the early 19th century, had 10 in Albion Mill in Albion Street, completed in the late 1820s. (fn. 443)
On the domestic side in 1839 only half of the 150 or so broad looms and a third of the 180 engine looms were working full time. The domestic ribbon industry was mainly in the hands of the female members of the undertakers' families. The journeymen had moved into the mills, and apprentices were no longer being taken; children too were working in the mills. There were still some 40 broad-silk undertakers in 1839, with a large number of journeymen. As yet there were no powered broad looms in operation, but some were being erected. (fn. 444) Domestic weaving continued to decline. In 1863 the main products were coat bindings and sleeve facings. (fn. 445) In 1875 Robert Farrow, sanitary inspector to the improvement commissioners, stated that only a very little hand-loom weaving survived, (fn. 446) while in 1884 Thomas Wardle stated that there were few cottage hand looms to be found. (fn. 447)
Twisting continued longer as a domestic industry or at least as one carried out in shades which were not part of the mills. Thomas Ball, working in a shade behind St. Edward's church, is said to have introduced the twisting of sewing silk by means of a 'gate' c. 1800. (fn. 448) After the silk had been wound and doubled by women and children, it went to the twister working the gate. The threads to be twisted were attached to the gate and wound on bobbins. Each twister employed a boy, known as a helper or trotter. His job was to take a rod carrying the bobbins and run some 25 yd. to the other end of the shade; there he passed the thread round a 'cross' and ran back to the gate. He repeated the operation until the thread had reached the required thickness. In 1863 estimates of the distance run, barefoot, in the course of a day's work of 10 hours varied from over 16 miles to nearly 20. One twister commented that the boy who helped him, aged 10, 'was very tired always at the end of his day's work of 10 hours'. In 1841, however, Samuel Scriven, reporting to the Children's Employment Commission, stated that he had found no injury to the feet or ankles; on the contrary the boys were healthy and 'notorious for being long winded, and fast runners'. Even in the mills using steam power, twisting was still carried out by hand in 1863, only the winding engines being powered. (fn. 449)
A shade might occupy the top floor over several houses, as with the weaving shop. Thus in 1834 five newly built houses in Blackamoor's Head Lane (late Pickwood Road) were advertised for sale along with a silk shade extending over them. (fn. 450) More usually a shade was a separate building of one or more storeys. In 1841 Josiah Hastel, a twister, owned a terrace of five houses and a two-storeyed shade in London Street and lived in one of the houses. The upper floor of the shade consisted of a twisting room and also a winding room where Josiah and his wife employed ten 'piecers' and three 'doublers'. The ground floor was let to four twisters working for whom they wished and employing their own boys. (fn. 451) A three-storeyed shade in Clerk Bank, with four gates on each floor, was offered for sale in 1830. (fn. 452) A newly erected shade in Duke Street advertised for sale in 1855 consisted of four storeys, with the second floor used as a warehouse and winding room. (fn. 453)
In 1863 there were c. 300 out-twisters, each employing on average 5 people of whom 3 were aged between 9 and 16. (fn. 454) There were 251 workshops in 1868, devoted mainly to the production of sewing silk and employing 1,440 people. (fn. 455) By 1875 industrial and educational legislation had made it difficult to secure helpers, boys being at their most useful between the ages of 9 and 14 and turning to other work after 15 or 16. (fn. 456) As late as the 1930s, however, trotters were still employed. (fn. 457)
Dyeing also grew in the earlier 19th century. When Joseph Badnall died in 1803, his dyeworks was taken over by his son William and brother James. On William's death in 1806 a partnership was formed between James and his brother Richard and son Joseph. James died in 1813. (fn. 458) By 1826 the works was run by a partnership consisting of Richard's son Richard, F. G. Spilsbury, and Henry Cruso; the partners also manufactured silk and silk machinery. The partnership was dissolved that year. (fn. 459) The business was bought by James Badnall's son Joseph, on whose death in 1830 it passed to his sister Ann. She let the works to John Clowes, who died in 1833. Later that year the works was let to William Hammersley, a former employee of Richard Badnall, who by 1824 had opened a silk-dyeing works at Bridge End to the northwest on the Leekfrith side of the Churnet. The Hammersley firm remained in business in Mill Street and Bridge End until the early 20th century. (fn. 460)
Another dyeworks was established in 1830 by Joshua Wardle on Leek brook near its confluence with the Churnet. His firm, Joshua Wardle Ȧ Sons by the early 1860s, became Joshua Wardle Ltd. in 1927. A second works, adjoining the first and designed by Longden & Venables, was completed in 1929; it included the site of the Travellers' Rest inn, which was rebuilt on the opposite side of the Cheddleton road, also to the design of Longden & Venables. (fn. 461) In 1987 the firm was bought by a major customer, William Baird plc. (fn. 462)
Joshua Wardle's son Thomas claimed that the water of the Churnet and its tributaries was among the best dyeing water in Europe. In particular it produced the unique raven-black dye for which Leek was celebrated by the 1830s, so called because its rich blue-black resembled the bluest part of the raven's feathers. (fn. 463) Joshua Wardle was using raven black by 1835. (fn. 464)
Despite the competition from metal buttons the production of hand-made buttons persisted. In the earlier 19th century large quantities of Florentine buttons were made by several hundreds of women and children in the surrounding villages. The name was coined by Joshua Brough for buttons covered in a drab silk cloth mounted on moulds of wood, bone, or iron with a linen back. In the earlier 1880s buttons covered in a mixture of silk and mohair were still being produced by c. 300 people in Leek and the neighbouring villages, notably at Flash and Biddulph Moor. (fn. 465)
The later 19th century.
The later 19th century, and especially the last quarter, saw the increasing concentration of the silk industry in factories. (fn. 466) New factories were built on a larger scale and were architecturally more self-conscious. Examples of 1853 are Wellington Mills in Strangman Street and London Mill on the corner of Ashbourne Road (formerly London Road) and Well Street. (fn. 467) California Mill, so named by 1892, illustrates the steady concentration of all processes on a single site. Standing in Horton Street, it is claimed to date from the 1820s and to be the oldest brick textile mill still in use in the north of England. It was occupied in the 1830s by Glendinning & Gaunt, who had 10 steam-powered looms there in 1839, having earlier used Ball Haye brook to provide power. By the entrance there was a terrace of 10 backto-back workers' cottages, evidently in existence by 1838. A shade was added on the Union Street side of the site in the mid 19th century and a dyeworks on the opposite side in the 1880s using water from Ball Haye brook. By 1878 there was a four-bedroomed house by the entrance, and it became the home of William Stannard after he acquired the mill in the early 1880s. (fn. 468) On an even larger scale was Big Mill in Mill Street, built by 1857 to the design of William Sugden and occupied from 1858 by Joseph Broster. It is 6 storeys high, 21 bays long, and 5 bays deep. (fn. 469) Waterloo Mills in Waterloo Street were built by William Broster & Co. in 1894 with J. G. Smith of Leek as architect; they resemble Big Mill in general design and in addition are of fireproof construction. (fn. 470)
The later 19th century also saw the growth of several large firms. Brough, Nicholson & Hall Ltd. became one of the largest, with premises covering several acres and employing 2,000 by the 1920s. (fn. 471) Its founder was John Brough, who was in business as a silk manufacturer in Leek by 1812. (fn. 472) He was in partnership with a Mr. Baddeley by 1815, with premises in Stockwell Street in 1818. (fn. 473) The partnership was dissolved in 1821, and John Brough continued to run the business alone until 1830. (fn. 474)
He had moved his premises to Union Street by 1829, when he built a house next to his silk warehouse there; he was then living in Tittesworth. He died in 1847. (fn. 475) In 1831 his sons Joshua, James, and John entered into partnership as Joshua and James Brough & Co. (fn. 476) A new factory was built in Union Street in 1844. (fn. 477)
James died in 1854. (fn. 478) In 1856 Joshua and John entered into partnership with Joshua Nicholson, who had joined the firm as a traveller in 1837, and B. B. Nixon, who had begun working for the firm in 1846 just before his 16th birthday. (fn. 479) The firm became J. and J. Brough, Nicholson & Co. in 1863. (fn. 480) Evidently in that year it moved to London Mill in Ashbourne Road, (fn. 481) and in the mid 1860s a warehouse was built on the east side of Cross Street with a shade behind it, both to the design of William Sugden. (fn. 482) In 1869, following the retirement of Joshua and John Brough, a new partnership was formed between Joshua Nicholson, B. B. Nixon, W. S. Brough (Joshua Brough's son), Arthur Nicholson (Joshua Nicholson's younger son), Edwin Brough (John Brough's son), and John Hall (apprenticed to the firm in 1854). (fn. 483) Hope Mill in Fountain Street, which had evidently been established by Thomas Carr & Co. in the 1820s, was acquired c. 1870 and doubled in size in 1875–6. (fn. 484) In 1871 the partnership was employing 470 persons; the number had risen to 630 by 1881. (fn. 485) W. S. Brough retired in 1881, the first of a succession of retirements from the partnership; Joshua Nicholson died in 1885. In 1891, after Nixon's retirement, the firm became Brough, Nicholson & Hall, with Arthur Nicholson (Sir Arthur from 1909) and John Hall as partners. (fn. 486) By 1898 the Cross Street building had been extended north to the junction of the street with Well Street, probably in 1892–3 to the design of Larner Sugden. (fn. 487) In 1898 a mill was built on the east side of Well Street; it was named the Royal York Mill following a visit by the duke and duchess of York in 1900. (fn. 488) In the mid 1890s the firm took over the Cecily Mills in Cheadle. (fn. 489) By the 1920s it had a dyeworks at Bridge End. (fn. 490)
The firm became a private limited company in 1907 and a public company in 1946. (fn. 491) In 1956 it sold the Bridge End dyeworks to Sir Thomas & Arthur Wardle Ltd. (fn. 492) In 1962 it began a four-year modernization programme, with activities concentrated in Cross Street and at Cheadle. The knitting department was transferred to Job White & Sons Ltd. of Compton Mills, which took over London and York mills. (fn. 493) Most of the buildings west of Cross Street, including Hope Mill, were demolished in 1968. (fn. 494) In 1983 Cross Street Mill was taken over by Berisfords, the Congleton ribbon firm, but it was converted into an antiques showroom in the later 1980s. (fn. 495)
The firm of Wardle & Davenport was formed in 1867 as a partnership between Henry Wardle, keeper of the Britannia tavern in West Street and also described as a photographer, and George Davenport, a silk throwster. Wardle provided the capital, and Davenport ran the business. (fn. 496) Their premises were at first in West Street, but by 1872 they had moved to part of Big Mill in Mill Street, sharing it with William Broster & Co. and Frederick Hammersley & Co. (fn. 497) Davenport retired in 1875 and was succeeded by Henry Davenport; Wardle retired in 1879. (fn. 498) In 1882 Henry Davenport entered into a partnership with his brother George, who was already manager. (fn. 499) By 1888 there was a third partner, W. H. Rider. That year the three partners bought the whole of Big Mill from W. A. L. Hammersley, with another mill to the south-east in Belle Vue erected by Hammersley's father W. H. Hammersley and land adjoining the two buildings; the whole site occupied nearly 3½ a. (fn. 500) Henry Davenport died in 1895, and by 1899 his son Fred was the third partner. That year Wardle & Davenport became a limited company, with a workforce of upwards of 700. (fn. 501) An office and warehouse designed by G. H. Chappell was erected in Belle Vue behind Big Mill in 1900. (fn. 502) The mill in Belle Vue was enlarged c. 1920 to the design of R. T. Longden, (fn. 503) and in 1925 its western end was rebuilt as an office block, also designed by Longden. (fn. 504) The company took over several smaller concerns, including the dyeworks at Bridge End belonging to William Hammersley & Co., and by 1924 its various factories covered 15 a. and employed 2,500 people. (fn. 505) Big Mill in the meantime was transferred to a separate company for the production of mercerized cotton. (fn. 506) By the late 1960s Wardle & Davenport was suffering heavy losses, and in 1970 it went into receivership. (fn. 507) Belle Vue Mill was demolished in the 1970s, and a lingerie factory was built on the site. (fn. 508)
A. J. Worthington & Co. Ltd. of Portland Mills in Portland Street and Queen Street, though smaller than either of the latter two firms, was one of the larger firms in Leek by the 1920s, with a workforce of 400. (fn. 509) It is said to have originated in 1803 as James Goostrey & Co. (fn. 510) James Goostrey was a silk manufacturer in Portland Street in the mid 1830s, presumably at the mill there described as new when it was offered for sale in 1832. (fn. 511) Soon afterwards the business was taken over by James Hammond and Henry Turner. By 1838 Andrew Jukes Worthington, a friend of Turner, was a partner, and in 1839 he married the niece of Turner's wife. (fn. 512) He bought the Turners out, and the firm became A. J. Worthington & Co., evidently in 1845. (fn. 513) In 1861, when he was living in Spout Street, he was employing 200 people. (fn. 514) For some years before 1868 he was in partnership with Thomas Halcomb, evidently his brother-in-law. In that year Thomas withdrew, and Andrew's son Ernest became a partner. Andrew died in 1873. (fn. 515) Ernest and his brother Philip were in partnership with Henry Russell, a London silk agent, from 1875 until Russell's death in 1885. The brothers continued in partnership until Ernest's death in 1896, and when Philip died in 1902 the business was left in trust for his son Lancelot, a minor. (fn. 516) The firm became a private limited company in 1909 and was renamed A. J. Worthington & Co. (Leek) Ltd. in 1936. (fn. 517) It took over several firms after the Second World War, and a parent company A. J. Worthington (Holdings) Ltd. was formed in 1953; the group consisted of six companies in 1963. (fn. 518) In 1984 the group announced heavy losses, partly as a result of the closure of its subsidiary W. H. White & Sons of Old Bank Mill, Ball Haye Road, a firm dating from 1923. Turnover increased with the re-emergence of White & Sons, and Worthingtons showed a profit again in 1986. (fn. 519)
The silk-dyeing industry was also expanding in the later 19th century. Leek had three silk dyeing firms in 1851 and 5 in the later 1880s; 300–400 people were employed in 1884. (fn. 520) There were seven firms by 1912 and 11 by 1936. (fn. 521) A problem was created by the muddying of the Churnet when the Staffordshire Potteries Water Works Co. completed Tittesworth reservoir in 1858. Some firms switched to the water supplied by the improvement commissioners. (fn. 522)
A leading figure in dyeing as in other aspects of the silk industry was Thomas Wardle (Sir Thomas from 1897). Born in 1831, he was the son of Joshua Wardle, whose dyeing business at Leekbrook he joined at an early age. (fn. 523) In 1872 he bought from Samuel Tatton the Hencroft dyeworks in Abbey Green Road and the Mill Street dyeworks, which was renamed the Churnet works. Tatton had built Hencroft in the late 1840s and the second works in or soon after 1853; he remained at Hencroft as Wardle's tenant until 1875 when he moved to Britannia Street. (fn. 524) In 1881 Wardle's son Arthur joined the firm, which became a private limited company in 1921 and a public company in 1949. (fn. 525) The Hencroft works was given up after the death of Sir Thomas in 1909. (fn. 526) The extension of the Churnet works, begun in 1938, continued after the Second World War. (fn. 527) In 1956, having bought Brough, Nicholson & Hall's Bridge End dyeworks, the firm established its subsidiary Leek Chemicals Ltd. there. (fn. 528) In 1967 Leek Chemicals became a subsidiary of Courtaulds. (fn. 529) Sir Thomas & Arthur Wardle Ltd. also became a subsidiary of Courtaulds; part of the premises was taken over by Courtaulds Jersey in 1982. (fn. 530)
From 1875 to 1877 William Morris was a frequent visitor to the Hencroft works, Wardle's brother-in-law George Wardle being the manager of Morris's works in London. With Morris Thomas Wardle revived indigo dyeing and restored vegetable dyeing to an important place in the industry. Their business association lasted until the early 1880s. (fn. 531) Thomas Wardle also promoted the use of Indian wild silks, especially that of the Tusser worm. It was dyed at the Churnet works under the supervision of his son Arthur, and the woven silk was printed at the Hencroft works under another son, Bernard. (fn. 532) Oscar Wilde, lecturing in Leek in 1884, paid tribute to Wardle's dyeing and to Leek's special contribution to the decorative arts. (fn. 533)
From the later 19th century there were important changes in the industry's products and technology. The introduction of the sewing machine in 1854 meant that silk was made in greater lengths and also involved spooling. (fn. 534) In the early 1880s the production of spun silk (thread made from silk waste) was introduced in Leek, apparently by William Watson & Co. Several local manufacturers, including Thomas Wardle, promptly combined to form the Leek Spun Silk Spinning & Manufacturing Co. About 1889 Brough, Nicholson & Co. introduced the Jacquard smallware loom, and in 1898 the first Sander & Graf crochet trimming loom in the country was installed in Leek. The first knitting machine using a latch needle was introduced in 1899, and within a few years flat knitting machines were being used. Some existing firms added knitted goods to their products, and new firms specializing in knitwear established themselves in the town. (fn. 535)
The 20th century.
One of the first of the new knitwear firms was Job White & Sons Ltd. It started in 1909 as Trafford & White, a partnership between Herbert Trafford and Job White, working at Victoria Mills in Ball Haye Road. The firm moved to Euston Mills in Wellington Street in 1911 and to Compton Mills in 1912 by exchange with Henry Bermingham & Son. William Davis replaced Trafford in 1914, and in 1918 the firm of White & Davis became a private limited company. On Davis's resignation in 1924 the firm was renamed Job White & Sons Ltd. It became a public company in 1962. (fn. 536) By 1964 the firm, one of the largest manufacturers of knitted headwear in the country, was employing some 600 people, over half at Compton and the rest at London and York mills, which it had acquired from Brough, Nicholson & Hall, and at Hope Mill in Macclesfield Road. That year Compton Mills were burnt down, but they were reopened in 1965. (fn. 537) The firm was acquired by Wardle & Davenport Ltd. in 1970 and went into liquidation later the same year. (fn. 538)
Early in the 20th century artificial silk was introduced, with Wardle & Davenport among the pioneers. The firm established a company at Tubize in Belgium in 1899 for the production of Chardonnet rayon, and c. 1905 it became the first in Britain to make artificial silk stockings. By 1912 mercerized cotton was being produced in Leek. (fn. 539) In 1920 Wardle & Davenport conveyed its manufacture of such cotton along with Big Mill to Peri-Lusta Ltd., established in 1919. (fn. 540) Peri-Lusta remained at Big Mill until 1992 when, having shed 40 members of its workforce of 90, it moved to premises in Belle Vue Road. (fn. 541)
In due course nylon and other man-made fibres were added to the materials used in Leek. Leek's importance as a centre for the production of knitted goods continued to grow, and it was estimated in 1957 that probably 75 per cent of the knitted scarves worn in Britain were made in the town. In 1970 Joshua Wardle Ltd. switched its dyeing from 90 per cent woven fabrics to 90 per cent knitted. (fn. 542) Leek remained the centre of the silk sewing thread trade in the 1950s, although the number of firms engaged in silk production was dwindling. (fn. 543) By the 1970s there was only one, Thomas Whittles Ltd., a family firm which operated at Wellington Mills in Strangman Street from the later 1860s. (fn. 544)
Numerous textile mills were closed in the late 1970s and early 1980s and adapted to other purposes. One of the mills formerly belonging to Brough, Nicholson & Hall was turned into an antiques showroom in the later 1980s, and in 1992 Albion Mill was an animal foods plant and Brunswick Mill was being converted into flats. (fn. 545) Leek had about a dozen textile firms in 1992, involved mainly in dyeing, finishing, printing, and the production of knitwear, braids, and trimmings. (fn. 546) In 1994 Thomas Whittles Ltd. ceased to operate, and the silk industry in Leek came to an end.
Two ancillary trades had emerged in the town by the 1860s, the manufacture of bobbins and of cardboard boxes. The turning of wooden bobbins had become a fulltime craft by 1861, and some at least of Leek's five wood turners in the late 1860s were probably engaged in the work. (fn. 547) By 1872 there were two bobbin turners, George Plant in Mill Street and William Wain in Buxton Road. (fn. 548) Wain was still in business in 1880, and the Mill Street works passed c. 1890 from George to Thomas Plant, who ran it for a short time. (fn. 549) Four new firms appeared in the earlier 1880s: Henry Brassington of Grosvenor Street, who was also a paper merchant and commission agent, Isaac Creighton of Cromwell Terrace and Shoobridge Street, John and Jabez Mathews of Buxton Road, who were also joiners and builders, and Murfin & Sons of London Mills, London Street. (fn. 550) Brassington had moved into London Mills by 1888 and had given up his other interests. The firm became Henry Brassington & Son at the beginning of the 20th century. By the time of its closure in the earlier 1960s it had become Brassington & Sons (Leek) Ltd., with its works in Cornhill Street, and it was then the only firm of bobbin manufacturers in the town. (fn. 551) At the beginning of the 20th century Isaac Creighton was succeeded by William Creighton, who moved to Westwood Terrace c. 1910. The firm had become Creighton & Co. of Sneyd Street by 1916, and it went out of business soon afterwards. (fn. 552) The firm of John and Jabez Mathews, which retained its links with the building trade until the 1890s, was still in business in the early 1920s. (fn. 553) In 1900 Matthew Swindells had a spool-making business in Queen Street, which by 1908 was run as M. Swindells & Co. In 1912 the firm had a second works at Portland Mills and had switched to the production of bobbins. It was still in business in Portland Street in 1940. (fn. 554)
Boxmaking in Leek seems to have made an uncertain start. Jabez Pickford was producing plain and ornamented boxes in Derby Street by 1860. The trade evidently died out in the mid 1860s but was revived after a few years. There were two boxmakers by 1872, four by 1876, and seven by 1900. In 1940 there were 10, including G. H. Plant & Sons, a firm established in Mill Street in the later 1870s. (fn. 555) They also included Wardle & Davenport, which had its own boxmaking department before 1900 and built a factory in Hillswood Avenue in 1924 specially for the production of boxes. (fn. 556) In the early 1960s several of the larger textile firms had boxmaking departments, but there were also six independent box manufacturers. (fn. 557) In the early 1990s there were four packaging firms in the town. (fn. 558)
Local craftsmen probably made handlooms for domestic workers, and for a few years in the 1860s Henry Hubbard was in business as a 'loom and silk machine maker' in Union Street. (fn. 559) Otherwise there is no evidence that textile machinery was made in Leek. Much of the machinery introduced into the mills in the late 19th and early 20th century came from abroad and was installed by foreign workers. (fn. 560) In the early 1920s a few Leek firms sold and overhauled mill machinery, (fn. 561) and in the later 1930s there were five firms of textile engineers in the town. (fn. 562) In the earlier 1960s some of the small engineering works in Leek were ancillary to the textile trade. (fn. 563)
Between c. 1850 and 1939 a few silk brokers were in business in the town. They were at their most numerous in the 1880s and 1890s when there were five or six at any one time. (fn. 564)
Trade unions and manufacturers' associations.
After various unsuccessful attempts trade unionism became established in the Leek silk industry in 1866 when the Amalgamated Society of Silk Twisters was formed with William Stubbs as secretary. Other societies followed, and in 1891 the Leek Federation of Local Trades Unions was formed. It promoted a series of lectures in 1892, including one by George Bernard Shaw on socialism. In 1907 seven of the existing unions formed the Leek Textile Federation. Its first and only secretary was William Bromfield, secretary of five of the unions; Stubbs was secretary of the other two. In 1919 seven unions amalgamated to form the Amalgamated Society of Textile Workers and Kindred Trades. The twisters' union remained separate, continuing until its dissolution in 1939. Bromfield, who in 1918 had been elected as Labour M.P. for the Leek division, became secretary of the new union. Foxlowe, the former home of the Cruso family in Church Street, became the union's headquarters. The union achieved a new importance in 1965 when the National Silk Workers' and Textile Trades Association merged with it. (fn. 565)
There was a Leek manufacturers' association for the prosecution of felons in the 1790s and the early 19th century. (fn. 566) A chamber of commerce, consisting mainly of silk manufacturers, was established in 1886 but did not flourish. (fn. 567) The Leek and District Manufacturers' and Dyers' Association was formed in 1913 after a successful strike that year. The first president was Sir Arthur Nicholson, who held office until 1929. (fn. 568) By the early 1980s its membership was declining, and it was dissolved in 1983. (fn. 569)
Clock and watch making.
The earliest known clock makers in Leek were members of a Quaker family named Stretch. Samuel Stretch was making lantern clocks in 1670. His nephew Peter Stretch was also a Leek clock maker; he emigrated with his family to Philadelphia in Pennsylvania in 1702 and made long-case clocks there. (fn. 570) Randle Maddock, a prolific clock maker, was working in Stockwell Street by 1736 and was still living in Leek at his death in 1745. (fn. 571) A Leek watch maker named Richard Steen died in 1743. (fn. 572) There were several clock makers in Leek in the later 18th century, including a Thomas Ashton, (fn. 573) but in the 1790s John Ashton was the only clock and watch maker recorded there. (fn. 574)
He or a younger John Ashton was a clock maker in Sheepmarket in 1818, and a John Ashton aged 75 was working there in 1851. (fn. 575) A George Ashton was recorded as a watch maker in Sheepmarket in 1841 and a watch and clock maker the earlier 1860s. He had moved to Compton by 1868. (fn. 576) William Travis (1781–1875) started on his own account as a clock maker in Market Place when he came of age. He moved to other premises in Market Place in the late 1830s and remained there until his death. For many years he made a clock every week. (fn. 577) His son Samuel had his own business as a clock and watch maker in Market Place by 1851 and continued there until the early 1880s. (fn. 578)
The Co-operative society.
The Leek and Moorlands Co-operative Society opened a shop in a rented cottage in Clerk Bank in 1859. In 1860 the society moved the shop to Overton Bank. (fn. 579) It was known as the Leek and Moorlands Industrial Provident Society Ltd. from the mid 1860s until the mid 1890s when it reverted to its original name. (fn. 580) A branch shop and bakery were opened in Ashbourne Road in 1880, and other branches followed. (fn. 581) They included the shop on the corner of Picton Street and Britannia Street designed by W. Sugden & Son and opened in 1895. (fn. 582) In 1899 new central premises were built in Ashbourne Road. Also designed by Sugden & Son, they consisted of offices, a boardroom, a hall, a grocery, and a bakery. In the mid 1920s the bakery was replaced by one in Strangman Street designed by Longden & Venables. (fn. 583) In 1910 the Society built a department store in High Street, designed by R. T. Longden, and all trading was centred there by the 1970s. (fn. 584) It was replaced in 1984 by a superstore opened by the North Midland Co-operative Society Ltd. in Pickwood Road. (fn. 585)
In 1922 Fred Adams started a butter-making business at Springfield farm, a small dairy farm bought by his father Fred from the earl of Macclesfield in the 1870s. (fn. 586) He installed a cold store in 1923, and in 1925 the business became one of the first in the country to introduce pre-packed butter. (fn. 587) In 1929 his son, another Fred, joined the firm, by then Adams Dairies (Wholesale). (fn. 588) A printing department was added in the 1930s to print the firm's butter wrappers and labels for customers. (fn. 589) In 1940 a second son, John, joined the partnership, and the firm became a private company called Adams Butter Ltd. It went public in 1965. (fn. 590) In 1964 a wrapper and box division was opened in a former silk mill in Queen Street, and an office block was built on a site adjoining the main factory. (fn. 591) In 1966 the company's fleet of refrigerated vehicles was concentrated at a depot on an 11½-a. site at Barnfields. (fn. 592)
In 1972 the Irish Dairy Board Co-operative Ltd., having acquired shares in the company in 1971, became a major shareholder and the company, with a growing diversification of interests, was renamed Adams Foods Ltd. In 1975 the company, then the largest butter selling organization in the United Kingdom, opened a warehouse and cold storage plant on the Barnfields industrial estate. (fn. 593) In 1978 the Irish Dairy Board Co-operative became the owner of the company, which in 1989 was taken over by another subsidiary of the co-operative, Kerrygold Co. Ltd. (fn. 594) Kerrygold opened its United Kingdom headquarters in Sunnyhill Road, Barnfields, in 1991; it also built a cheese-packing plant there and another for processed cheese. The Springfield Road site was put up for sale. (fn. 595)
When John Rothwell, a Leek mercer, died in 1623, his goods included 7 dozen scythes and 6 cwt. of bar iron in his 'iron seller', (fn. 596) and in 1667 an ironmonger named Thomas Brough was living in Leek. (fn. 597) In 1727 William Fallowfield of Leek obtained a patent for making iron with peat. He delayed putting it into operation 'because of a mighty bustle' by the Wolverhampton ironmaster William Wood, who was attempting to smelt with pit coal at Chelsea. Wood died in 1730, and by 1731 Fallowfield had a furnace near Leek, which was still working in 1735. (fn. 598) A Leek ironmonger named James Hall died in 1742. (fn. 599) In 1818 there were two forges in Leek producing edge tools. (fn. 600)
The firm of Woodhead & Carter, iron and brass founders, millwrights, and engineers, had a works near the railway station by 1860. It was known as Hope Foundry by 1872 and was probably by the railway on the opposite side of Newcastle Road from the station, its situation in 1878. About then it was taken over by William Woodhead. (fn. 601) In 1886 a plan for extensions was prepared by W. Sugden & Son. (fn. 602) Woodhead sold it in 1899 to a Mr. Hitchcock of Ealing, presumably J. P. Hitchcock, an iron and brass founder, who was running the foundry in 1904. (fn. 603) By 1908 it was run by Churnet Valley Engineering Co., a firm of iron and brass founders, and by 1912 had been renamed Churnet Foundry. The firm was still running it c. 1916, having added the production of machine tools to its activities. (fn. 604) A firm of pump manufacturers, Moorlands Engineering Co. Ltd., opened a works by the canal wharf c. 1920. (fn. 605) Its closure c. 1960 left only one foundry in Leek, the works in Sneyd Street belonging to Sneyd Engineering, a company in existence by the early 1920s. That foundry was closed in 1991 with the loss of some 16 jobs. (fn. 606)
Printing and bookselling.
A Leek bookseller named John Maddock died probably in 1766. (fn. 607) Joseph Needham was trading as a bookseller in Leek in 1778 and was recorded as a printer also in 1784 and 1785; his premises were on the corner of Derby Street and Market Place. (fn. 608) The story that Michael Johnson, father of Samuel, served his apprenticeship there to a Joseph Needham over a century before has been discounted, since Michael was apprenticed to a London stationer. (fn. 609) Three booksellers were listed in the 1790s. One of them, Francis Hilliard, went bankrupt in 1794, when he was described as a bookseller, printer, and stationer. He was in business as a printer at Scolding Bank by 1818 and was still there in the late 1820s. His son William Michael had taken over the business by 1834, with premises in Church Street. (fn. 610) He had moved to Market Place by 1841 and to Sheepmarket by 1850 and had added auctioneering to his business by 1854. He gave up business as a bookseller, stationer, and printer in 1866 and moved to Stockwell Street, where he was still in business as an auctioneer and appraiser in 1872. (fn. 611)
There was a second printer in the town from the late 1820s when George Nall set up a press in Spout Street. In the earlier 1830s he moved to Sheepmarket, where he introduced copperplate printing and also traded as a bookseller and stationer. (fn. 612) He moved to Custard (later Stanley) Street in 1843. (fn. 613) His son Robert joined the firm, which by 1860 was George Nall & Son. In 1865 Robert sold the business to William Clemesha, who had the first flatbed machine in Leek. (fn. 614) He had moved to St. Edward Street by 1880, and the firm was Clemesha & Clowes by 1888. A firm called Clowes & Co. had a printing works in London Street in the 1890s. (fn. 615)
By then there were several printers in the town. One of the most notable figures among them was Enoch Hill, who later became prominent in the building society movement. After being a twister's helper and a farm labourer he worked for two Leek printers and installed a press in his home. (fn. 616) He continued his printing business after joining the Leek United Permanent Benefit Building Society as a clerk in 1885 at the age of 20, and by 1892 he had moved it into a shop in Cawdry Buildings, Fountain Street, where he also had a bookselling and stationery business. (fn. 617) He employed his three brothers in the printing side of the business, and they and their father took it over when Hill became secretary of the building society in 1896. (fn. 618) In 1900 what had become the firm of Hill Brothers moved to Haywood Street. By then it owned the Leek Post, and it installed the first linotype machine in North Staffordshire. It took over the Leek Times in 1934. The firm, now Hill Bros. (Leek) Ltd., moved into the former workhouse building in Brook Street in 1968. (fn. 619)
George Hill started a stationery and printing business in Stanley Street in the early 1880s. He was joined by his sons John and William in the 1890s, and the firm became George Hill & Sons in 1904. The sons were keen photographers and in 1902 started to produce picture postcards showing local scenes, an important side of the business until the late 1920s. George died in 1922, and his sons retired in the early 1940s, selling the business to John Myatt. The name George Hill & Sons was retained until 1972 when Myatt sold the business. (fn. 620)
In 1901 Fred Hill started a stationery and bookselling business in Derby Street with a print works in Haywood Mill in Haywood Street. About 1920 he bought three cottages in Getliffes Yard off Derby Street opposite his shop and converted them into a print works. He retired in the late 1950s, and Albert Hughes, his brotherin-law, took over the business. Hughes died in 1961, and his widow Hannah carried it on in partnership with Ray Poole, who had been Hughes's assistant. In 1971 Mr. Poole bought Mrs. Hughes's share. He sold the printing side in the later 1970s to John Hilton, who sold it c. 1980 to Getliffe Design & Print, the owners in 1993. Mr. Poole sold the bookshop in 1988, and it was closed in 1993. Each Christmas from 1925 until 1938 Hill issued Leek News, an advertising journal which was delivered free to every household in Leek. (fn. 621)
About 1680 Robert Plot noted that at Leek 'they build chiefly with a reddish sort of stone' quarried locally. (fn. 622) In the Millstone Grit of the Leek area there are outcrops of sandstones known as crowstones with a high silica content. Though not suitable for building, they have been quarried for road metal and walling stone. (fn. 623)
The mention in 1281 of Elyot 'le quarehour', who formerly held land near Leek churchyard, may indicate 13th-century quarrying. (fn. 624) In the early 18th century building stone was dug in the common land known as Back of the Street (later Belle Vue Road). (fn. 625) In the later 18th and earlier 19th century stone was quarried at Ballington south of the town for road repairs. (fn. 626) The cemetery contractors were given permission in 1857 to get stone in Thomas Sneyd's quarries in Ballington wood, (fn. 627) and in 1861, during a trade depression, the improvement commissioners provided work for the unemployed in quarrying road stone there. (fn. 628) Stone from Leek moor was used for walling in the later 18th and earlier 19th century, (fn. 629) and stone from Edge-end farm in Tittesworth was used for road work in 1769. (fn. 630) There was quarrying at Kniveden in the earlier 19th century. (fn. 631) Although the quarry there was not worked in the late 1870s, All Saints' church, consecrated in 1887, was built of Kniveden stone, and the quarry was again worked in the early 1920s. (fn. 632)
In the 1780s and 1790s Samuel Goodwin, a Leek grocer, also made rope and sacking. (fn. 633) There were four rope and twine makers in the town in 1818 and three in 1829. One of them, Ralph Mountfort, worked in Derby Street in 1818 and the early 1820s; his address was given as Market Place in 1829 and Custard (later Stanley) Street in 1834. By 1851 the firm was styled Ralph Mountfort & Son and in 1854 was described as a firm of grocers and rope and twine spinners (grocers and twine manufacturers from 1868). It was still engaged in grocery and twine manufacture in 1916 but in grocery only by 1924. (fn. 634) In 1857 the Mountfords may have owned the ropewalk then in operation at Ball Haye Green; they were working it in 1871 and 1882. (fn. 635)
In 1841 James Rogers was making rope in Buxton Road, probably at the ropewalk which in 1838 was on the north side of Buxton Road near its junction with Ball Haye Street. Simeon Rogers was a ropemaker in Well Street in 1841. James had moved to Spout Street by 1850 and Simeon to Queen Street by 1860. Both continued at those addresses until c. 1890. (fn. 636)
Other trades and industries.
In the 1670s Leek was noted for its excellent ale. (fn. 639) Until the mid 19th century there is no evidence of wholesale brewing, as opposed to brewing for domestic and retail purposes. A brewer named Ralph Tatton was living in Stockwell Street in 1851, (fn. 640) but he is not known to have traded in Leek. In 1854 there two brewers in the town, Thomas Clowes, who kept the Pump inn in Mill Street, and George Walker, who had a brewery at the junction of Canal Street (later Broad Street) and Alsop Street. (fn. 641) Clowes had gone out of business by 1860, (fn. 642) but Walker's brewery was still in operation in 1908. (fn. 643) Bridge End brewery, on the Leekfrith side of the Churnet, was worked by William Brown Lea in 1860 and by Dixon & Johnson in 1864. (fn. 644) It probably closed in 1866: its stock, including beer, and movables were put up for sale that year, and the building and equipment were not in use when they were offered for sale in 1874. (fn. 645) There was a brewery attached to the Blue Ball in Mill Street in 1861. It was described as newly erected when advertised for lease in 1865. A month later the contents were put up for sale and were described as late the property of a brewer named Marriott. (fn. 646)
Soft drinks were made in the town in the later 19th and earlier 20th century. John Byrne, a house decorator, had established the North Staffordshire soda water works in Derby Street by 1864. By 1868 the business was run by Mrs. Caroline Byrne, who moved to Cross Street in the early 1880s and worked there until at least 1892. The business was evidently taken over by Moses Heapy, a Fountain Street grocer, who was producing bottled mineral water in Cross Street in 1896. He had moved the business to Fountain Street by 1900 and was still working there in 1904. (fn. 647) George Massey was making ginger beer in Shoobridge Street in 1880. By 1884 Richard Massey had taken over the business, moving it to Leonard Street where it remained until its closure in the later 1930s. (fn. 648) William Haywood, the landlord of the Golden Lion in Church Street, was making mineral water in Naylor's Yard, Clerk Bank, in 1896. By 1900 he was engaged solely in the production of mineral water and was still in business in 1928. (fn. 649) Mrs. Mary Burne was making soda water in Fountain Street in the late 1880s, and the Leek Mineral Water Co. had a works in London Street in the early 1920s. (fn. 650)
William Watson, a Leek grocer, had tobacco in stock at the time of his death in 1689. (fn. 651) John Oakes of Leek was trading as a tobacconist in 1711. He died in 1712 and was evidently succeeded by Thomas Oakes of Leek, described as a tobacconist in 1715 but as a grocer in 1718. (fn. 652) Joseph Grundy of Leek was described as a tobacconist at his death in 1733, and John Pott of Leek was trading as a tobacconist in 1744. (fn. 653) Samuel Grosvenor, a Leek grocer, had tobacco and spices in stock when he died in 1747. (fn. 654)
There were two chairmakers in Leek in the late 1790s, and the trade persisted until the 1850s, with members of the Booth family active throughout the period. Eight joiners and cabinet makers were recorded in 1818 and five cabinet makers in 1850. (fn. 655) Alfred Overfield, trading in 1850 as an upholsterer and cabinet maker in Sheepmarket, was in business the following year in Queen Street as a furniture broker and cabinet maker. He had moved to Russell Street by 1854, and his firm continued there until the 1920s. (fn. 656) The premises were burnt down in 1866 and rebuilt in 1868. They were extended in 1896 to the design of Larner Sugden and were described in 1910 as 'one of the most complete furnishing establishments in North Staffs.' (fn. 657) Sugden seems also to have designed furniture which Overfield & Co. made under his supervision. (fn. 658)
Leek had many makers of boots and shoes and of clogs and pattens throughout the 19th century. In the earlier 20th century numbers declined, and the last survivors were two clogmakers in business in the later 1930s. (fn. 659) The trade was evidently small-scale, domestic, and retail, with the exception of the International Crispin Patent Boot and Shoe Co. Ltd. A wholesale business, it was established in London Street by 1868 and was among the six most important boot and shoe manufacturers in Staffordshire before its closure by 1876. In the mid 1870s there were c. 650 factory hands and outworkers engaged in the town's shoe trade. (fn. 660)
There were two brickmakers in London Road in 1851 and three in 1861. (fn. 661) There were four brickyards there in 1862 and the late 1870s but only one in 1898. (fn. 662) In the late 1870s there was also a brickworks east of Compton, along with sand and gravel working. (fn. 663)
The Leek Savings Bank was established in 1823, following meetings of leading inhabitants in 1822. It used a room in the town hall in Market Place and was open between noon and 1 p.m., at first every Monday and later two Mondays a month. In 1853 the trustees began building on the corner of Derby Street and Russell Street to the design of William Sugden, and the bank continued there until its closure in 1882. (fn. 664)
Two other banks were established in the 1820s. That of Fowler, Haworth & Gaunt in Market Place existed by 1825 and was presumably in the building on the corner of Market Place and Stockwell Street, formerly the Cock inn, part of which was the bank's premises in 1838. It was run in 1825 by a partnership consisting of Sarah Fowler of Horton Hall, John Haworth of Cliffe Park in Horton, and John and Matthew Gaunt, Sarah's sons by her first marriage. The bank closed in 1847. (fn. 665) The Commercial Bank, also in Market Place, was opened in 1825 by a partnership consisting of Richard Badnall of Highfield House in Leekfrith, his son Richard of Ashenhurst in Bradnop, R. R. Ellis, Henry Cruso, and F. G. Spilsbury; all, except apparently Ellis, were connected with the silk industry. The partners were reduced in 1826 to the elder Badnall and Ellis. In 1827 the partnership was dissolved, and Ellis was left to close the bank at a heavy loss to himself. (fn. 666)
A Leek sub-branch of the Hanley branch of the Manchester and Liverpool District Bank was established in 1833. At first it was open on Wednesdays only, but from 1834 it opened daily. (fn. 667) When the lease of its Sheepmarket premises expired in 1841, it reverted to weekly opening in a room in Church Street. Daily opening was resumed in 1855 in premises in Custard Street, with a move to Derby Street in 1860. In 1861 the sub-branch became a main branch. (fn. 668) It moved temporarily into Gaunt House on the other side of Derby Street in 1881 while its premises were rebuilt. The new bank, designed by W. Sugden & Son, was opened in 1883. It is of brick with stone dressings; the interior of the portico has a frieze of tiles by William de Morgan. A notable feature is a first-floor oriel window surmounted by a pediment containing the bank's coat of arms; it is thought to have been copied from a building by Norman Shaw in Leadenhall Street, London. (fn. 669) The parent company (from 1924 the District Bank Ltd.) became a subsidiary of the National Provincial Bank Ltd. in 1962, and that in turn became part of the National Westminster Bank Ltd. in 1970. (fn. 670)
A branch of the Manchester-based Commercial Bank of England was opened in Derby Street in 1834. The bank failed in 1840. (fn. 671)
In 1857 a bank was opened by F. W. Jennings in a house in Stockwell Street enlarged for the purpose to the design of William Sugden. Jennings sold it in 1877 to the Warrington-based Parr's Banking Co. Ltd. In 1885 the bank moved to a building in St. Edward Street designed for it by W. Owen of Warrington. Parr's merged in 1918 with the London & Westminster Bank Ltd. to form the London County Westminster & Parr's Bank Ltd., from 1923 the Westminster Bank Ltd. The branch was closed after the formation of the National Westminster Bank in 1970. (fn. 672) In 1979 the building became a community centre occupied by the Citizens' Advice Bureau and voluntary services. (fn. 673)
The Mercantile Bank of Lancashire Ltd. opened a branch in Derby Street in 1898. The bank amalgamated in 1904 with the Lancashire & Yorkshire Bank Ltd., which was taken over by Martins Bank Ltd. in 1928. The Leek branch moved to the former Savings Bank building on the corner of Derby Street and Russell Street in 1964. Martins amalgamated with Barclays Bank Ltd. in 1969, and Martins' Leek branch was closed in 1972. (fn. 674)
There was a branch of the Cheque Bank Ltd. in Shoobridge Street at the end of the 19th century. (fn. 675) Williams Deacon's Bank opened a branch in Derby Street in 1920; it was closed in 1943. (fn. 676) Barclays Bank opened a branch in Derby Street in 1926; it moved to other premises in Derby Street in 1955 and to Haywood Street in 1960. The Midland Bank opened its branch in Derby Street in 1927. Lloyds Bank opened its branch in the Smithfield Centre in Haywood Street in 1964. A branch of the Trustee Savings Bank was opened in Market Place in 1986. (fn. 677)
A savings bank set up by the mechanics' institute in 1850 was open to the general public as well as to the members of the institute, (fn. 678) and by 1867 there was a branch of the Post Office savings bank in Leek. (fn. 679) The Leek Economic Loan Society was established in 1864 with its office in Silk Street, Ball Haye Green. (fn. 680)
The first known building society in Leek was the Leek Building Society, a terminating society formed in 1824. Its 42 shares were to be paid for at the rate of 1 guinea a month over six years, and each subscriber was entitled to a house worth £80. Land was bought at Ball Haye Green, and it was arranged that 15 houses should be built there during the summer of 1824. By 1829 all 42 houses had been built. (fn. 681)
The Leek and North Staffordshire Benefit Building and Investment Society was formed in 1846, but the venture was unsuccessful. (fn. 682) Two terminating societies were launched within a few days of each other in 1850. The Leek United Benefit Building Society, which concerned itself with investment as well as building, successfully terminated in 1862, two years before its estimated term. (fn. 683) The Leek Benefit Building Society terminated in 1861, more than two years before its estimated term, having built Alsop Street, Westwood Terrace, and St. George's Row. (fn. 684)
The Leek and Moorlands Permanent Benefit Building Society was established in 1856 with its office at no. 1 Stockwell Street and with upwards of 120 members. (fn. 685) In 1879 it was incorporated as the Leek and Moorlands Building Society. New offices were built at no. 15 Stockwell Street in 1894–5 to the design of J. T. Brealey. Extended in 1924, they were replaced by the adjoining New Stockwell House, built on the site of Stockwell House in 1936–7 to the design of Briggs & Thornely of Liverpool. (fn. 686)
By that time the society was becoming nationally important. The growth was largely the work of Hubert Newton, who was appointed secretary in 1933 at the age of 29 and was later general manager, managing director, chairman, and president; he was knighted in 1968. The first of many mergers occurred in 1938 when the society took over the Longton Mutual Permanent Benefit Building Society. The merger with the London-based Westbourne Park Building Society in 1965 was the second biggest in the history of British building societies and produced the sixth largest building society in the country, renamed the Leek and Westbourne. The merger in 1974 with the Ipswich-based Eastern Counties Building Society resulted in a further change of name, to the Leek, Westbourne and Eastern Counties. In 1975, after the merger with the Oldbury Britannia Building Society in 1974, the society became the Britannia Building Society.
Meanwhile further office space was needed. In 1966 Milward Hall in Salisbury Street was bought for the mortgage department. In 1968 no. 10 Stockwell Street was rented for the new computer department, which soon required larger premises and moved to St. Luke's church hall. Newton House on a 27-a. landscaped site on the east side of the Cheddleton road was opened as the society's new headquarters in 1970; it was designed by Adams & Green of Stoke-on-Trent. New Stockwell House was retained as the town-centre branch office but was sold in 1976 to Staffordshire Moorlands district council, a branch office having been opened in Derby Street. That was itself replaced in 1980 by a new building on the site of the baths on the corner of Derby Street and Bath Street. Newton House was extended in 1980, and in 1992 another large office building, Britannia House, was opened on the opposite side of the Cheddleton road. (fn. 687) In the early 1990s Britannia was Leek's largest employer. (fn. 688)
The Leek United Permanent Benefit Building Society was formed in 1863. (fn. 689) Its premises were at first in Russell Street, (fn. 690) but in 1871 it moved to St. Edward Street. It was incorporated in 1884. It moved to a new office in the same street in 1896 and to its present premises, also in St. Edward Street, in 1916. In 1919 it changed its name to the Leek United and Midlands Building Society.
George Parker (d. 1675) of Park Hall in Caverswall was practising law at Leek in 1654. (fn. 691) The Thomas Parker who witnessed a marriage in the town in 1655 (fn. 692) may have been George's elder brother, also a lawyer, (fn. 693) or George's second son, another lawyer, who was living in Leek in the 1660s and was the father of Thomas Parker, Lord Chancellor and earl of Macclesfield. (fn. 694) George Parker's son-in-law Richard Levinge was a lawyer apparently living in Leek in the later 1650s. Of his children baptized there, Richard (1656–1724) became attorney general for Ireland, chief justice of the Irish court of common pleas, and a baronet. (fn. 695) John Horsley, a Leek lawyer who died in 1695, probably came from a Bradnop family. (fn. 696)
Four generations of the Mills family practised law at Leek, (fn. 697) and the family is said to have taken over George Parker's practice. (fn. 698) Certainly they acted professionally for the earls of Macclesfield in the 18th century, (fn. 699) and in the middle of the century they were the town's leading lawyers. William Mills (d. 1695) was probably in practice by 1687. (fn. 700) His eldest son, also William (1689– 1749), was practising by the 1720s, (fn. 701) and by 1738 he had been joined by his own son Thomas (1717–1802). (fn. 702) Thomas acquired the manor of Barlaston by marriage in 1742 and was sheriff of Staffordshire in 1754. (fn. 703) It was probably his son Thomas (1752–1821) who by 1783 was in partnership with John Cruso. Later, probably in 1799, Mills and Cruso made their clerk, Henry Jones, a junior partner. (fn. 704) In 1806 Mills sold his interest in the firm to Cruso, and in 1807 Cruso and Jones took Sinckler Porter of Lichfield as partner. The partnership was evidently dissolved in 1810. (fn. 705) In 1817 Jones and Porter had separate practices in Leek. Cruso had taken his son John into partnership, and that year his son-in-law Charles Coupland, a Leek attorney, joined the partnership. (fn. 706) Coupland left in 1824 or 1825. (fn. 707) When the elder John Cruso died in 1841, the younger moved from Spout Street to the house in Church Street which his father had bought in 1819 from Thomas Mills and which was known as Foxlowe by the early 20th century. (fn. 708) His younger brother Francis was practising as a solicitor in Stockwell Street by 1841. (fn. 709) Both were still practising in the earlier 1860s, Francis dying in 1864 and John in 1867. (fn. 710)
Another legal dynasty was the Condlyffe family. (fn. 711) William (1707–99) of Upper Hulme, in Leekfrith, was articled to a Richard Goodwin in 1723 and practised in Leek from the 1730s to the 1790s. (fn. 712) In 1757–8 he built a house in Derby Street which was to remain the family home. (fn. 713) His elder son John was working for him by the 1770s and seems to have been in at least nominal charge of the practice in the 1790s. (fn. 714) His health, however, was weak, and he was confined as a lunatic by the time of his father's death; he died in 1810. (fn. 715) His younger brother Joseph (1754–1839) worked for their father in the 1780s (fn. 716) but may have let the practice lapse after William's death. By the early 1820s the practice was being carried on by Joseph's son William (1796–1867), who was still active in the 1860s. (fn. 717)
Other 18th-century lawyers included Thomas Walthall (d. 1788), in practice in the 1750s and 1780s, (fn. 718) Thomas Gent, and John Davenport. When Thomas Mills became sheriff in 1754, he appointed Gent his undersheriff. (fn. 719) Davenport was articled to Gent in 1750, and he was in practice on his own account probably by the late 1750s and certainly by the earlier 1760s. (fn. 720) He inherited Ball Haye in Tittesworth in 1780 and died in 1786. (fn. 721)
Davenport's practice passed to William Challinor of Pickwood (1752–1800), who had been articled to him and by the early 1780s was his partner. (fn. 722) After Challinor's death the practice was carried on by his partner George Ridgway Killmister, who in 1807 went into partnership with William's eldest son, also William; they were still in partnership in the mid 1830s. Their office was at no. 10 Derby Street, a house dated 1760, where William was living in 1821 and where he died in 1839. (fn. 723) His eldest son William (d. 1896) and another son Joseph (d. 1908) went into partnership in 1850 or 1851 with William Beaumont Badnall; William was then living at Pickwood, Joseph at the Derby Street house, and Badnall in Church Lane. (fn. 724) In 1854 Badnall became the son-in-law of Francis Cruso, and he apparently took over most of the Cruso practice. (fn. 725) With his withdrawal from practice in the earlier 1860s the firm became Challinor & Challinor, and by 1868 it was Challinor & Co. (fn. 726) About 1890 it became Challinors & Shaw, Thomas Shaw having joined the firm in the earlier 1880s, and the name remains in use. (fn. 727)
There was a surgeon named John Hulme at Leek in 1658. (fn. 728) William Hulme, who owned Lower Tittesworth by 1673 and died in 1693, was a doctor of physic and a surgeon. (fn. 729) William Grosvenor of Leek was licensed to practise as a physician and surgeon in 1697, his certificate of fitness being signed by the vicar of Leek and by Thomas Beckett, a surgeon, and Benjamin Endon, a physician, probably of Dunwood House Farm in Longsdon. (fn. 730) Grosvenor was described in 1705 as an apothecary and in 1712 and 1723 as a physician. (fn. 731) He died in 1765 aged 101. (fn. 732) His son Joseph, who was supplying medicines in 1735 and the 1740s, practised in Cheadle. Joseph's son Joshua was described as a Leek apothecary in 1756 and was practising as a surgeon in Leek in the 1760s. (fn. 733) John Condliffe of Leek was described as a barber surgeon in 1705, (fn. 734) as was Benjamin Watson of Leek in 1723. (fn. 735) Robert Key, a member of a local Quaker family, practised as a physician in Leek in the late 1730s and the 1740s, having studied at Leiden. He moved to London but died at Leek in 1761. (fn. 736)
William Watson, a Leek grocer, had 'apothecary ware' amongst his goods at his death in 1689. (fn. 737) The goods of Gervase Gent, a Leek Quaker, as listed in 1690 after his death suggest that he was an apothecary and barber surgeon: they included drugs and allied equipment, a urinal, clyster pipes, razors, and 'some intruments of chirurgery'. (fn. 738) There was a Leek apothecary named Boller c. 1700, and one named William Thorpe died in 1707. (fn. 739) Eli Robinson (1693–1742) was practising as an apothecary in Leek by 1722 and was described as a surgeon and apothecary in 1728, when he attended the dying Thomas Jodrell of Endon. (fn. 740) Henry Fogg (1707–50), the son of a Stone butcher, was apprenticed to Robinson in 1722. Described in 1746 as an apothecary and surgeon, he had numerous clients in the Leek area and beyond. After his death the contents of his shop and his medical books were bought by Hugh Wishaw. (fn. 741)
A surgeon named Isaac Cope was living in Sheepmarket in 1760. (fn. 742) Three Leek surgeons were listed in 1784, F. B. Fynney, who was described as an apothecary also, and Eli and Isaac Cope; there was also a druggist, Benjamin Challinor. (fn. 743) All were listed again in 1798; Fynney was then described as a surgeon and man midwife, as was a fourth surgeon, George Cope. (fn. 744) Fynney, who died in 1806, built Compton House in the Cheddleton road. (fn. 745) In 1818 six surgeons were listed, including three members of the Fynney family; druggists mentioned were Benjamin and Jesse Challinor and John Smith. (fn. 746) There were four surgeons in the earlier 1830s, a number which the vicar, T. H. Heathcote, considered too few for a town the size of Leek. (fn. 747) They included Charles Flint, one of those listed in 1818; in the 1820s he moved from Stockwell Street to Compton House, where he died in 1864 at the age of 74, having practised in Leek for nearly 50 years. (fn. 748) Richard Cooper, a staunch Wesleyan Methodist who was born at Cheddleton in 1803, was admitted M.R.C.S. in 1825 and was in general practice in Leek until his death in 1872. He was also medical officer of the Leekfrith district of the Leek poor-law union from 1837. (fn. 749)
In the later Middle Ages the area later covered by the township of Leek and Lowe was divided between the borough of Leek and a tithing of Leek manor apparently known as Lowe in 1327. The tithing was called Woodcroft by 1340, Lowe by 1429, and Leek by 1551. (fn. 750) With the disappearance of the borough after the Dissolution the whole area came within Leek manor and the township of Leek, called Leek and Lowe by the later 17th century. (fn. 751) The township formed one of the quarters of Leek parish, with its own churchwarden and its own overseer of the poor. (fn. 752) It had its own vestry meeting by the mid 19th century. (fn. 753) The built-up area was taken into the new Leek urban district in 1894, and the area to the south became the civil parish of Leek and Lowe, renamed Lowe in 1895. That too became part of the urban district in 1934. (fn. 754)
Besides Leek and Lowe the manor of Leek included Heaton, Leekfrith, Rushton Spencer, and Tittesworth by 1340. (fn. 755) From the mid 16th century the manor was known as the manors of Leek and Frith, at that time still covering the same five townships. (fn. 756) All five were part of Leek constablewick in the later 17th century. (fn. 757) In 1827 the manors of Leek and Frith were described as covering the townships of Leek and Lowe, Leekfrith, and Tittesworth. (fn. 758) The manors, however, retained some vestigial control over Heaton and Rushton Spencer: in 1820 the court of Leek and Frith appointed a headborough for Heaton and a headborough and a pinner for Rushton Spencer. (fn. 759)
There was mention of the court of Leek in 1281, (fn. 760) and in the late 13th century land at Upper Tittesworth was held by suit at Leek court twice a year. (fn. 761) In 1293 the abbot of Dieulacres claimed view of frankpledge as lord of Leek in succession to Ranulph de Blundeville, earl of Chester. (fn. 762) Records of a small court survive from the earlier 14th century. (fn. 763) By 1340 each of the five townships making up the manor formed a tithing represented by one frankpledge at the twice-yearly view. (fn. 764) A twice-yearly great court and a three-weekly small court were still held at the Dissolution, with between 300 and 400 suitors attending the great court. (fn. 765) In 1744 the Green Dragon (later the Swan) inn at Leek was the meeting place of the court leet. (fn. 766) In the earlier 19th century a court leet was held at the Red Lion in Leek every October before the earl of Macclesfield's steward, and it was stated in 1834 that over 1,000 suitors usually attended. (fn. 767) In 1820 absentees who had not essoined were fined 6d. each, and an order was made for the compilation of a full list of suitors in time for the next court. (fn. 768) In 1831 the jurors assembled at 11 a.m. and after being sworn carried out 'a minute inspection of the town', making presentments of nuisances and encroachments. They returned about 4 p.m. for 'an ample and excellent dinner' and afterwards appointed the officers for the following year. (fn. 769) The court continued to be held until the early 1880s. (fn. 770)
Several officials were elected at a great court in January 1429/30: a constable, an ale taster, two meat tasters, and a bailiff ('catchpoll') with an associate (socius). (fn. 771) In 1538 the earl of Derby was steward of the manor as well as steward of the borough and of Dieulacres abbey; there was a single bailiff for all the abbey's manors. (fn. 772) In 1820 the court appointed a constable, a deputy constable, and a headborough evidently for the whole manor, a combined beadle, 'bang beggar', and pinner for Leek and Lowe (with a rise in salary from 1s. to 3s. a week 'in case he executes his duty properly'), two market lookers, a pinner for Leekfrith, a headborough for Lowe, and two scavengers for the town of Leek, besides officials for Heaton and Rushton. (fn. 773) In the earlier 1830s the officials appointed consisted of a constable and a deputy, a headborough and a deputy, two market lookers, and a beadle, bang beggar, and pinner. (fn. 774) In 1831 a combined bailiff of the court and scavenger was appointed and two overseers of the highways for the town of Leek were reappointed. (fn. 775) Thomas Fernyhough was town crier at the time of his death in 1742, (fn. 776) and the manor court appointed a crier in 1837. (fn. 777) In the earlier 19th century there was a pinfold in Spout Street, apparently at the junction with Sheepmarket. (fn. 778)
Between 1207 and 1215 Ranulph, earl of Chester, granted a charter to 'my free burgesses dwelling in my borough of Leek'. They were to be as free as 'the freer burgesses' of any other borough in Staffordshire. Each was to have ½ a. attached to his dwelling and 1 a. in the fields, with a right to timber and firewood in Leek forest and common of pasture for all cattle in Leek manor. The burgesses were to pay no rent for the first three years and thereafter 12d. each a year. They were also to be quit of all amercements relating to Leek for a payment of 12d. They were free to give or sell their burgages to anyone other than religious, subject to a toll of 4d. They were exempted from pannage dues in the manor, and they were granted privileged grinding at the earl's mills. The burgesses were exempted from tolls throughout Cheshire on all goods except salt at the wiches. (fn. 779)
The monks of Dieulacres renewed the charter, probably a short time after Earl Ranulph's grant of the manor to the abbey in 1232. The renewal omitted the clauses covering rights to timber, firewood, and pasture, exemption from pannage, and toll payable at the market and the fair. The 12d. rent was to be paid in two parts, 6d. on the feast of St. Edward in the summer (20 June) and 6d. at Martinmas (11 November). The ban on conveyance of burgages to religious was modified to allow conveyance to Dieulacres itself. (fn. 780)
About 1220 there were 80½ burgages; at the Dissolution there were 84. (fn. 781) Little is known about the organization of the borough. The earl of Chester's charter gave the burgesses the right to choose their own reeve, subject to the approval of the earl or his bailiff, and the right was confirmed by the monks with a similar proviso. The town had its own bailiff by 1538 and probably by 1369; the earl of Derby was steward in 1538. (fn. 782) It is possible that the seat in the north aisle of the parish church occupied by the collector of the market tolls in the 17th century had once been the official seat of the borough bailiffs. (fn. 783) The moot hall in the town, which was held by a tenant in 1575 and 1677, (fn. 784) may earlier have been the meeting place of the borough court.
About 1530 the burgesses were in fear for their liberties because their charter had come into the possession of Thomas Rudyard, the lord of Rudyard manor. (fn. 785) Sir Ralph Bagnall, having secured the manors of Leek and Frith in 1552, proceeded to deny the burgesses their rights. In 1555 they asserted those rights, in particular the right to dispose of their tenements as they wished and the right to collect wood in the commons of the manor. (fn. 786) No later record of the borough has been found beyond the conveyance in 1622 of a moiety of a burgage (fn. 787) and the description of a house at Barngates in 1738 as a messuage or a burgage. (fn. 788)
IMPROVEMENT COMMISSIONERS AND URBAN DISTRICT COUNCIL.
A body of 34 improvement commissioners was established by an Act of 1825 to light, watch, cleanse, and improve the town of Leek. The town was defined as a circle with a 1,200-yd. radius measured from the hall in the market place, and besides much of Leek and Lowe township the area included parts of Leekfrith and Tittesworth townships. (fn. 789) A new body of 24 commissioners with extended powers was set up under an Act of 1855, with responsibility for an area within a 1,500-yd. radius from the gas lamp in the centre of the market place. (fn. 790) Stones marking the boundary were erected on all the main roads and elsewhere, (fn. 791) and several survive.
In 1894 the commissioners were replaced by an urban district council of 24 members with powers covering the same area, 1,459 a. in extent. In 1934 the urban district was enlarged to 4,315 a. by the addition of Lowe parish and parts of the parishes of Cheddleton, Leekfrith, Longsdon, and Tittesworth; four wards were created. (fn. 792) From 1974 the former urban district was a parish in Staffordshire Moorlands district, with a town council of 12 members representing four wards and its chairman designated mayor of Leek. The parish is represented on the district council by 12 members. (fn. 793)
In December 1855 the commissioners transferred their meetings from the public hall in the market place to a room in Derby Street. They moved to rented premises in Russell Street in 1862. (fn. 794) In 1881 the commissioners took over rooms in Union Buildings in Market Street, built as a concert hall in 1878 to the design of Alfred Waterhouse and others. In 1884 the commissioners bought the whole building, which then became the town hall. The Russell Street premises were reopened as the Liberal Club in 1882. (fn. 795) The town hall was demolished in 1988, (fn. 796) and the town council's offices moved to no. 15 Stockwell Street. Land in Leonard Street adjoining the cattle market of 1874 was used as a town yard for storing materials until 1894 when the yard was moved to Cruso Street. (fn. 797)
In 1768 a workhouse for Leek and Lowe township was completed in Spout Lane, which was renamed Workhouse Street (and in 1867 Brook Street). The building was later enlarged, and by 1834 it was of four storeys and measured 75 ft. in length and 21 ft. in depth. (fn. 798) About 1800 nearly 3 a. of Leek moor on the Ashbourne road were inclosed as a garden for the workhouse. (fn. 799) In 1810–11 the governor of the workhouse was paid a salary of £42 and the matron one of £10. (fn. 800) The number of inmates averaged c. 54 in the earlier 1830s, maintained and clothed for 3s. 6d. each a week; the children were sent out to work in the silk mills. (fn. 801)
The Leek poor-law union was formed in 1837. (fn. 802) A union workhouse built on the Ashbourne road garden was opened in 1839; it was designed in a classical style by Bateman & Drury of Birmingham. (fn. 803) An infirmary block designed by J.T. Brealey was opened in 1898. (fn. 804) The buildings passed to the Stoke-on-Trent hospital management committee in 1948 and became Moorlands Hospital. (fn. 805) The former parish workhouse was put up for sale in 1839. (fn. 806) It was used as a dyeworks by 1868 and continued as such until it was taken over by the Leek Post & Times in 1968. (fn. 807)
In 1816 and 1841 distress funds were established by public subscription. (fn. 808) A soup kitchen was built in Stockwell Street by the improvement commissioners in 1868. They let it to a relief committee, which had been dispensing soup since the beginning of the year. The committee ran the kitchen until 1872. (fn. 809)
At the end of the 18th century Leek was described as a clean town with wide and open streets and a spacious market place. (fn. 810) In 1820 the manor court appointed two scavengers for the township of Leek and Lowe. It also ordered a 5s. fine for depositing filth, ashes, or rubbish in the streets of the town or on the highways or footpaths of the manor and failing to remove such deposits within three days after notice from the scavengers. (fn. 811) In 1831 the jurors of the court spent five hours inspecting the town and making presentments of nuisances and encroachments. (fn. 812)
At the end of 1831 a board of health was formed by the leading inhabitants in case of a cholera outbreak in the town. Poor families were visited and their needs ascertained; £110 was raised by subscription and distributed in bedding and coal. The board was legally constituted in 1832 and hired a building as a cholera hospital in case of need. Only one death in the town was recorded. (fn. 813)
In 1839 and 1841 government commissioners remarked on the cleanliness of the town and the workers' dwellings. The 1841 commissioner also recorded the prevalence of fever, which he attributed to 'the neglected state of the privies, ditches, and boglands, and lanes'. He described how a silk shade in London Street, itself very dirty, was in a yard behind a row of cottages, each with a privy emptying into the yard; there was only a shallow gutter to carry the filth to a cesspool, which was 'equally exposed and of itself enough to poison the whole neighbourhood'. (fn. 814) In 1849 the guardians of the Leek poor-law union appointed an inspector of nuisances, who was to inspect the town and report any nuisances to them. (fn. 815) A 'great mortality' in the town in 1856 led the improvement commissioners to set up a medical committee to report on local conditions. The report, published in 1857, noted 'the vicious and intemperate habits of the people', inadequate ventilation in the factories, bad drainage, and an insufficient water supply. The Canal Street (later Broad Street) area was particularly insanitary, and a notable example of the inadequate provision of privies was to be found in 'Beard's houses' in Compton where there was only one privy for ten houses. Another group of houses in Compton known as O'Donnell's Square was described as 'a system of building outrageous to the sense of the 19th century'. Ball Haye brook had become an open sewer, and in no other town of similar size were 'filth and ordure more liberally bestowed'. A system of arterial sewers was recommended, as was the appointment of a medical officer of health. (fn. 816)
A complaint had been made in 1849 that the main sewers were too small to carry away all the sewage of the town. (fn. 817) About 1852 a brick sewer was constructed from the market place down Spout Street (later St. Edward Street) and Canal Street to discharge into a ditch. (fn. 818) In 1858, following the appointment of Charles Slagg as surveyor in 1857, the town was divided into two drainage districts, South and North. The sewerage of the South district, discharging into Birchall meadows, was completed in 1859 and that of the North district, apparently discharging at the bottom of Mill Street, in 1862. The sewage was distributed over large tracts of land and purified by broad irrigation before passing into the Churnet. (fn. 819) A medical officer of health was appointed by the commissioners in 1859 because of the high rate of mortality in the town. (fn. 820) In 1857 William Challinor had complained of Leek's notoriety compared with 'places less favoured by nature and circumstances but more by sanitary improvement'. At a conference in 1875 he was able to claim that Leek, from having been one of the worst towns in sanitary matters 20 years before, had become one of the best and that its death rate of about 30 in a 1,000 in 1860 had fallen to 15½ in 1874. (fn. 821)
By the later 1880s the pollution of the Churnet with sewage from the outfalls as well as with effluent from the dyeworks was causing concern, and in 1890 the county council threatened proceedings against the improvement commissioners. (fn. 822) The urban district council opened a sewage farm at Barnfields by the southern outfall in 1899. (fn. 823) Broad irrigation, however, continued north and west of the town until a new sewage works was opened at Leekbrook in 1934. (fn. 824) Improvements at Leekbrook, completed in 1992, introduced treatment processes claimed to be unique in Europe outside Italy. (fn. 825) In 1856 the surveyor had urged the adoption of water closets throughout the town. In 1873 there were 325 water closets as against 650 privies; by 1925 there were only 58 privies, 28 of them in outlying rural areas without sewers. (fn. 826)
Baths designed in an Elizabethan style by F. and W. Francis of London were opened at the east end of Derby Street in 1854. (fn. 827) Built by the Leek and Lowe vestry, they were taken over by the improvement commissioners in 1874 under the Public Health Act of 1872. (fn. 828) They were enlarged in 1897 (fn. 829) and demolished in 1979 after being replaced in 1975 by swimming baths in Brough Park. (fn. 830)
In 1857 a cemetery was opened by the improvement commissioners on 5½-a. on the west side of the Cheddleton road at Cornhill Cross for the inhabitants of Leek and Lowe, Tittesworth, Rudyard, and Longsdon. Nearly 2½ a. were consecrated as a Church of England burial ground, and another part was set aside for Roman Catholics. The two mortuary chapels, linked by an archway surmounted by a tower and spire, were designed by William Sugden. (fn. 831) St. Edward's church and churchyard were closed for new burials in 1857, as were the graveyards attached to Mount Pleasant Wesleyan Methodist chapel and Derby Street Congregationalist chapel; St. Luke's churchyard was closed in 1862. (fn. 832) The commissioners bought nearly 5 a. to the west of the cemetery in 1890, and just over 1 a. was consecrated by the bishop of Lichfield in 1893. (fn. 833) The cemetery was again extended in 1930. (fn. 834)
Robert Farrow (1822–1906), who settled in Leek in 1847 and evidently worked as a tallow chandler, became active in campaigns for sanitary reform. In 1867 he was appointed sanitary inspector by the improvement commissioners, and he continued to hold the post under the urban district council, retiring in 1905. He also served as supervisor of markets, school attendance officer, and secretary to the fire brigade. (fn. 835)
In the 18th century there was a well in Mill Street west of the junction with Abbey Green Road. (fn. 836) In 1789 Joshua Strangman described his house on the west side of Spout Street as adjoining Holland's well. He also had the use of a well called the Dungeon near the lane later known as Strangman's Walk; the water was described in 1837 as 'pure and excellent' and never known to run dry. (fn. 837) In 1805 there was a well on the south side of Ashbourne Road; (fn. 838) Well Street, running north from Ashbourne Road, may have derived its name from the well.
By 1805 the town and places adjoining it were supplied with water piped from two reservoirs on Leek moor, at what are now the north end of Mount Road and the east end of Fountain Street. The Leek inclosure Act of that year, in confirming the earl of Macclesfield's ownership of the waterworks as lord of the manor, described the system as created by his ancestors. (fn. 839) An Act of 1827 obliged Lord Macclesfield and his heirs to supply the town from the reservoirs. It allowed him to charge up to £5 a year for each house supplied according to rented or rateable value; people requiring water for commercial purposes were to agree a charge with the earl. (fn. 840)
Complaints were made about the supply in 1849. Whereas the springs near Wall Grange, in Longsdon, provided a good supply to the Potteries, Leek's supply was inadequate and impure. The inhabitants were constantly annoyed by the bellman's calling out 'the water will be turned off all day tomorrow'. At the same time 'the reservoir and fountain' were 'full of fish, frogs, toads, tadpoles etc.' (fn. 841) The reservoirs were enlarged in the early 1850s, and in the mid 1850s a reservoir was built at Blackshaw Moor, from which water was piped to the other two. (fn. 842) In 1856 the quality of the water was good but the reservoirs were in a filthy state so that 'the water is charged with vegetable matter and very unpure'. The needs of the town were estimated at an average of 90,000 gallons a day, but the supply was at the rate of 'only 2½ gallons per head per diem for the whole population'. Of the 2,117 houses within the improvement commissioners' district 1,263 paid a water rate. The main areas wholly or partially without a supply were the lower part of Mill Street, Belle Vue, Kiln Lane, Leek moor, and Ball Haye Green, and many people depended on polluted water from wells and the Churnet. The earl of Macclesfield's yearly income from the supply in 1855 was £586 and expenditure on repairs and maintenance was estimated at between £60 and £70; the commissioners' waterworks committee stated in 1856 that the income could be doubled if the powers given by the 1827 Act were fully used. (fn. 843)
One of the aims of the 1855 Improvement Act was that the new commissioners should take over the water supply, and in 1856 they bought the works for £11,000. (fn. 844) In 1859 they extended the main to Ball Haye Green, considered the unhealthiest part of the town. (fn. 845) Having bought land at Blackshaw Moor in 1864, the commissioners built a second reservoir there. (fn. 846) In 1872 the commissioners look a lease of springs at Upper Hulme, in Leekfrith; the urban district council bought the freehold before the lease expired in 1932. (fn. 847) The council opened a reservoir at Kniveden in 1931 mainly to supply the Ashbourne Road area. (fn. 848) In 1935 it built a pumping station at Poolend in Leekfrith linked to the Mount Road and Kniveden reservoirs. (fn. 849) The Mount Road reservoir was enlarged in 1964 and demolished in 1979. (fn. 850) The water undertaking is now owned by Severn Trent Water Limited.
In 1859 a drinking fountain was erected on the Buxton road south of its junction with Mount Road by Joshua Brough. Designed by William Sugden, it incorporated a spring which had long been used by the public, and it was intended for the refreshment of the many people who strolled out to the area in the summer. (fn. 851) In 1860 Charles Flint, a local surgeon, gave a drinking fountain built into the wall of the town hall in the market place; it too was designed by Sugden. In 1872, with the demolition of the hall, the improvement commissioners re-erected the fountain in Canal (later Broad) Street. (fn. 852) Flint gave a second fountain in 1860, set in the wall of the churchyard at the west end of Church Street and fed by a spring. (fn. 853) A fountain given by William Challinor and designed by Joseph Durham was erected on the site of the hall in 1876. It was moved to Brough park in 1924, but the water was cut off in 1975 because the fountain was being vandalized. In 1988 it was moved to the forecourt of Moorlands House in Stockwell Street. (fn. 854)
A dispensary was established in 1832 to provide medical and surgical help for the industrious working classes in their homes and attendance on poor married women during their confinements. (fn. 855) In 1851 adults paid 1d. a week and children ½d., and there were four surgeons available. Honorary subscribers paid 21s. a year, for which they could recommend 5 or 6 patients; midwifery cases counted as two ordinary cases. (fn. 856) In 1857 the Leek improvement commissioners' medical committee deplored the fact that the dispensary's annual income did not exceed £10 and urged greater publicizing of its work. (fn. 857) The dispensary still existed in 1898. (fn. 858)
The Leek Memorial Cottage Hospital at the east end of Stockwell Street was opened in 1870. It was built by Adelina Alsop in memory of her husband James (d. 1868) on land given by his nephews John and Robert Alsop. Designed by William Sugden, it consisted of a male ward of four beds, a female ward of three beds and two cots, and two private wards each with one bed. Mrs. Alsop managed and maintained the hospital until 1874 when she handed it over to a committee for three years. During that time she continued to maintain the building and contributed towards the running of the hospital, which was also supported by subscriptions and donations. In 1877 she handed it over to trustees. (fn. 859) An arched entrance gateway designed by W. Sugden & Son was added in 1893. It was the gift of Mrs. Alsop, with gates given by John Robinson, the chairman of the committee. It was later removed to allow ambulances to drive up to the main door. (fn. 860) Four plots of land were added to the site in 1892, 1894, and 1897. (fn. 861) A wing designed by W. Sugden & Son was opened in 1909, the cost being met by a legacy of £1,000 from Elizabeth Flint and by public subscription. It contained a male and a female general ward, each with six beds, and two male and two female accident wards, each with one bed. (fn. 862)
In 1874 the improvement commissioners opened an isolation hospital in temporary premises on the west side of Ashbourne Road. They built a permanent hospital there in 1880; its four wards could accommodate 20 patients. (fn. 863) In 1938 it was taken over by the Newcastle and District joint hospital board. (fn. 864) It was closed in the 1950s and sold to the urban district council for conversion into dwellings. The council built old people's bungalows in the garden, and most of the original buildings had been demolished by the late 1980s. (fn. 865)
Leek Cripples' Aid Society, formed in 1921, worked at first in the Ball Haye Street schools and the Memorial Hospital. In 1927 the society opened a clinic in Salisbury Street designed by Longden & Venables. (fn. 866)
In 1948 the former union workhouse became Moorlands Hospital. (fn. 867) In 1990, after being refurbished and extended, it was opened as a community hospital, and the cottage hospital and the Salisbury Street clinic were closed. (fn. 868)
By 1921 Leek had a motor ambulance for non-infectious and accident cases and a horsedrawn vehicle for infectious cases. In 1924 the hospital convalescent committee presented a new motor ambulance to the town, and the existing ambulance was transferred to infectious cases. (fn. 869) There were seven ambulances by 1956, kept in the town yard. An ambulance station was opened in Haregate Road in 1957. (fn. 870)
The Leek branch of the Samaritans was established in 1966. At first it occupied a small room in Russell Street, and in 1976 it moved to Fountain Street. (fn. 871)
In 1293 the abbot of Dieulacres as lord of the manor claimed infangthief and right of gallows. (fn. 872) At the Dissolution the gallows stood 'at the end of the town', probably in Mill Street, and was stated always to have stood there. (fn. 873) In 1642 a group of inhabitants of Leek constablewick agreed to build a cage or prison. (fn. 874) In 1651, however, the constable stated that the town had no pillory, cage, or other prison but only a pair of stocks, and quarter sessions ordered a levy on the constablewick for the provision of a cage and pillory. (fn. 875) A lock-up in the town was pulled down when the town hall in the market place was built in 1806 containing two cells. (fn. 876) In the earlier 19th century the stocks stood near the hall until their removal to a site beneath Overton Bank. Presumably as a replacement, steel stocks were set up in the market place opposite the Red Lion. (fn. 877) In the early 18th century a cucking stool stood by the Churnet off Abbey Green Road near Broad's bridge, apparently its site in the 1560s. A chair which may be part of a cucking stool is kept in St. Edward's church. (fn. 878) A scold's bridle was last used in 1824. (fn. 879)
By the beginning of the 18th century the sexton was paid 5s. for ringing the curfew. (fn. 880) In the later 1830s the sexton rang a bell at 6 a.m. and 1 p.m. each day. (fn. 881) He was still paid 5s. for ringing the curfew bell in 1857. (fn. 882)
A Leek association for the prosecution of felons was active in 1793. (fn. 883) What was evidently a new association was formed in 1802 covering the townships of Leek and Lowe, Leekfrith, and Tittesworth. (fn. 884) It was still meeting in 1898. (fn. 885) A separate association was formed for Leekfrith in 1819. (fn. 886) By the earlier 1790s a Leek manufacturers' association for the prosecution of felons had been formed to protect stock against theft, and that or a similar association was active in 1816. In 1838 silk manufacturers of Leek and its neighbourhood drew up a scheme for a new association for the prosecution of silk thieves. (fn. 887)
By 1818 there was a volunteer watch, which assembled at the town hall in the market place. (fn. 888) The improvement commissioners of 1825 were empowered to appoint watchmen and pay them, and they duly appointed four, each with a watch box. (fn. 889) By 1834 the commissioners' police-force consisted of a superintendent (who was also clerk to the commissioners and to the Gas Light Co.), four constables, and some watchmen. (fn. 890) The manorial constable too still exercised policing duties in 1837. (fn. 891) A county police station was built at the junction of Mill Street and West Street in 1848; it included a dwelling for the inspector and three cells in place of the two in the town hall. (fn. 892) In 1851 the Leek county force consisted of a superintendent, an inspector, and 11 men. (fn. 893) A new station designed by W. Sugden & Son was opened in Leonard Street in 1892, with a superintendent's house attached. (fn. 894) That station was replaced by one in Fountain Street built in the late 1980s. (fn. 895)
By the 1830s petty sessions were held at the Swan every alternate Wednesday. (fn. 896) The police station of 1848 included a court room where petty sessions were held. (fn. 897) Courts were held in in part of the nearby West Street Wesleyan school by 1864 and continued there until 1879. (fn. 898) The magistrates then moved to Union Buildings in Market Street, later the town hall, and by 1884 they were also using a court room at the offices of Challinor & Co., solicitors of Derby Street. (fn. 899) In 1961 the courts were moved to part of the Methodist Sunday school building in Regent Street. In 1986 the Co-operative Society store on the corner of High Street and Field Street was converted into a court house. (fn. 900)
A Leek county court district was established in 1847, and in 1851 the court was held monthly at the Red Lion. (fn. 901)
The buckets provided and repaired by the churchwardens of Leek parish in the 18th century (fn. 902) were presumably for fire fighting and kept at St. Edward's church. By the earlier 1730s the town had a fire engine, given by the earl of Macclesfield, presumably after his purchase of the manor in 1723. (fn. 903) That too appears to have been maintained by the churchwardens. (fn. 904) A new engine, called Lord of the Manor, was given by one of the earls, probably in 1805. (fn. 905) From 1826 the Salop Fire Office paid £5 a year towards the cost of repairing the engine; two other offices were contributing £2 10s. each by the late 1840s. In 1827 the trustees of the Town Lands bought land at the east end of Derby Street as the site for an engine house. The land soon came to be used for the cattle market, and in the 1840s the engine was kept in rented premises. (fn. 906)
The improvement commissioners established in 1855 took over responsibility for the engine and paid for its manning. By the 1860s the engine house was on the open space at the end of Derby Street. (fn. 907) At that time the commissioners were exercising their power to ban the use of thatch as a roofing material. (fn. 908) In 1870 they appointed a fire brigade committee and set up a volunteer brigade in addition to the paid brigade. An engine was bought for the volunteer brigade the same year and housed in Stockwell Street. In 1871 the volunteers took charge of the fire escape belonging to the commissioners. The two brigades were merged as a single volunteer brigade in 1873. It was reorganized as a paid brigade in 1883 following the resignation W. S. Brough, captain of the volunteer brigade since 1870. (fn. 909)
In 1898 the urban district council opened a new fire station on the Stockwell Street site designed by J. T. Brealey. (fn. 910) At the same time a steam-operated engine was bought and named the Queen of the Moorlands. (fn. 911) A motor engine was bought in 1924 and named the Wilson after the chairman of the fire brigade committee; the steam engine was retained. (fn. 912) The Stockwell Street station was replaced by a new station in Springfield Road in 1971. (fn. 913)
GAS AND ELECTRICITY SUPPLIES.
In 1826 a group constituted the following year as the Leek Gas Light Co. bought land on the west side of the Newcastle road, and J. A. West of Durham, an engineer and the chief shareholder, built a gasworks there. An agreement was made in 1827 with the improvement commissioners to light c. 100 public lamps at £2 a year each from 29 September to 5 April. The lamps were to be lit from dusk, half until 2 a.m. and the rest until 6 a.m.; none was to be lit for three nights before a full moon and one night after it. There was a private supply to houses, factories, and shops. The dial of the clock in St. Edward's church tower was also lit, the improvement commissioners paying £7 a year by 1834. (fn. 914) A second gas holder was built in 1844. (fn. 915) In 1846 the undertaking was sold to the improvement commissioners and the company was dissolved. (fn. 916) The works ceased production in 1964. (fn. 917)
Electricity was supplied by the urban district council from 1904, with a generating station in Cruso Street. (fn. 918) The supply was extended to the Birchall area in 1931. (fn. 919) In 1955 most of the streets were still lit by gas, and the council was then planning systematic conversion to electricity. (fn. 920)
The first houses provided by the urban district council were 12 wooden huts erected in 1920 in Junction Road on part of Barnfields farm, later the site of the cattle market. Faced with a housing shortage, the council bought the huts from the government, transported them, and converted them into temporary dwellings. (fn. 921) The council's first permanent estate was the 24-a. Abbottsville estate west of Abbotts Road, where 258 houses were built between 1920 and 1924; the estate was extended north to Novi Lane with another 72 houses in 1925 and 1926. In 1925 the council built 46 houses on the south side of the town. Most were in Glebeville off Junction Road on 2½ a. of glebe bought from the trustees of All Saints' church, but some were on the remainder of Barnfields farm. At the west end of the town 114 houses were built in Station Street, the Walks, and Morley Street in 1928. In the 1930s building continued north of Novi Lane on 29 a. at Haregate, where 104 houses were built in 1930 and 100 in 1933; another 156 were built in 1935 and 1936 to rehouse people displaced by slum clearance. (fn. 922)
Building was resumed after the Second World War, and by 1955 a further 557 houses and flats had been provided. They included 30 more in Novi Lane and Abbotts Road, 248 on the Compton estate including 9 flats in the adapted Compton House, and 268 on the Haregate estate, where the hall and 78 a. were acquired in 1948. A site of 3½ a. had also been acquired in Westwood Heath Road. (fn. 923) Slum clearance continued, and by 1961 283 dwellings had been demolished out of 450 scheduled for demolition. (fn. 924)
Leek's first housing-association project was Westwood Court in North Street, opened in 1980 and providing sheltered accommodation for the elderly. It was built by Anchor Housing Association and consists of 19 single flats, 9 for two persons, and 3 for three persons. (fn. 925) Another large scheme is Beth Johnson Housing Association's sheltered housing opened on the site of Mount Pleasant Methodist chapel in Clerk Bank in 1984 and consisting of 31 single flats and 8 double. (fn. 926) The same association completed the first phase of 40 pensioners' flats in Pickwood Close in 1990 and completed the scheme in 1993. (fn. 927) Horsecroft Grove, consisting of 10 bungalows built by the association, was opened in 1994. (fn. 928)
POST OFFICES AND TELEPHONE SERVICE.
Leek had a postmistress by 1776 (fn. 929) and was on the route of the London–Manchester mail coach introduced in 1785. (fn. 930) The post office was in the market place in the early 19th century but had moved to Spout Street (later St. Edward Street) by 1829 and to Custard Street (later Stanley Street) by 1834. (fn. 931) By 1838 George Nall, a bookseller, stationer, and printer in Sheepmarket, was also postmaster, and in 1843 he moved his business and the post office to Custard Street. The business was sold in 1865 to William Clemesha, who was postmaster in 1871. (fn. 932) In 1872 Samuel Tatton was appointed postmaster with his premises in Stanley Street. (fn. 933) He had moved to St. Edward Street by 1880 and to the former Savings Bank premises in Derby Street by 1884. (fn. 934) A post office was built on the corner of St. Edward Street and Strangman Street in or shortly after 1905. (fn. 935) A new post office was opened further north in St. Edward Street in 1964. (fn. 936) It was replaced in 1993 by a post office in part of the premises of Genies Lighting in Haywood Street. (fn. 937)
The National Telephone Co. opened an exchange in Stockwell Street in 1892. The exchange moved to Haywood Street in 1904 and to the post office in 1925. A new exchange was opened in the post office yard in Strangman Street in 1928. It was replaced in 1968 by a subscriber trunk dialling exchange on the site of the former post office in St. Edward Street. (fn. 938)
A Leek parliamentary division covering northeast Staffordshire was created in 1885 as one of seven new divisions for the county. (fn. 939) The first M.P. was a Liberal, but the Conservatives won the seat in 1886 and held it until 1906. (fn. 940) A Liberal won it that year and held it, with a Unionist interlude between the January and December elections in 1910, until 1918. That year William Bromfield, the secretary of the local textile union, (fn. 941) won the seat for Labour. He lost it to the Conservatives in 1931 but won it back in 1935. He was succeeeded in 1945 by Harold Davies, another Labour member, who held the seat until 1970; he was then created a life peer as Baron Davies of Leek. In 1970 a Conservative, D. L. Knox, gained the seat, which became Staffordshire Moorlands division in 1983. He won it for the seventh time in 1992 and was knighted in 1993.
The first known mention of a church at Leek is in the 13th century. There are, however, remains of pre-Norman crosses on the site, (fn. 942) and a church was built perhaps in the late 10th or early 11th century. Its dedication to St. Edward, recorded in 1281, (fn. 943) was evidently in use in 1207 when the king confirmed a fair at Leek at the feast of St. Edward. (fn. 944) The saint concerned was probably the English king, Edward the Martyr (d. 978 or 979), whose cult was officially promoted soon after his death: by the 1320s one of his feasts (20 June) was the day on which the burgesses of Leek had to pay the first half of their rent. (fn. 945) By the 1730s, however, Edward the Confessor was regarded as the patron saint. (fn. 946)
The church served a large parish which in the Middle Ages included dependent chapels at Cheddleton, Horton, Ipstones, Meerbrook, Onecote, and Rushton Spencer. Cheddleton, Horton, and Ipstones had become separate parishes probably by the mid 16th century, (fn. 947) and the chapels at Meerbrook, Onecote, and Rushton Spencer had parishes assigned to them in the later 19th century. A chapel was built at Endon c. 1720, and that too became a parish church in 1865. A parish of St. Luke was formed in 1845, covering the eastern part of Leek town and the adjoining rural area. A parish of All Saints was formed out of St. Luke's and St. Edward's in 1889 to cover the southern part of the town and Longsdon.
In the earlier 1220s Ranulph, earl of Chester, granted the church of Leek to the monks of Dieulacres. (fn. 948) The grant was confirmed by William Cornhill, bishop of Coventry (resigned 1223), who instituted the monks into the vacant church. His confirmation mentioned dependent chapels, which were named as Cheddleton, Ipstones, and Horton in a further confirmation made by his successor Alexander Stavensby between 1224 and 1228. (fn. 949) Cornhill's confirmation stipulated the ordination of a vicarage; a Richard Patrick was vicar probably in the 1230s, (fn. 950) and there was a vicar with a deacon in 1241. (fn. 951) The advowson remained with Dieulacres until the Dissolution, and in 1560 the Crown granted it to Sir Ralph Bagnall. (fn. 952) It then descended with Leek manor until 1865 when Lord Macclesfield transferred it to the bishop. (fn. 953) In 1979 the parishes of St. Edward, All Saints, and St. Luke were united to form the parish of Leek, served by a team ministry composed of a rector and two vicars. The existing vicar of St. Edward's was named as the first team rector and the vicars of All Saints' and St. Luke's as the first team vicars. Thereafter the rector was to be appointed by the Leek Patronage Board, consisting of the bishop, the archdeacon of Stoke-upon-Trent, and three members chosen by the parochial church council of Leek parish. The vicars were to be appointed by the bishop and the rector jointly. (fn. 954) In 1983 the parish of Meerbrook was added to Leek, which became the parish of Leek and Meerbrook. (fn. 955)
In stipulating the ordination of a vicarage, the bishop fixed its value at 20 marks. (fn. 956) In 1288 the bishop settled a dispute between the vicar and the monks by ordering that the vicar was to have all annual oblations, the customary Lent offerings at Candlemas, casual perquisites, small tithes, tithe of hay from Endon, 6 marks a year from the monks, and the house by the church which it was customary for the vicar to have; the vicar had the duty of providing priests to serve the dependent chapels. (fn. 957) He was still in receipt of those dues and the 6-mark stipend in 1450, but the payment of £15 a year to the chaplains of Cheddleton, Ipstones, and Horton left him with 14 marks. (fn. 958) It was probably then that the stipends of the chaplains were made a charge upon the rectory, as they were at the Dissolution. (fn. 959) In 1535 the vicar received £7 19s. 1½d. from offerings and other emoluments. (fn. 960)
The value of the vicarage was given as £10 a year in 1604. (fn. 961) In 1612 the vicar had a house, two little gardens, and arable in Leek field called the Vicars Croft (later Vicars Close), a shop at the west end of the moot hall let for 6s. 8d., and Easter payments of £9 in lieu of tithes. (fn. 962) By the later 17th century the Easter payments were at the rate of 1s. for a house with 20 a. or more attached (given as land worth £20 or more from 1701), 9d. for a house of lesser status occupied by a married man, and 7d. for one occupied by an unmarried or widowed person; 2d. was due for every boarder or child aged 16 and 1d. for every servant. Heaton, Rushton James, and Rushton Spencer were exempt from the Easter payments. The vicar also received a modus of 5s. 6d. a year for tithe of hay in Endon (8s. 6d. by 1730). It was further stated in 1698 that the churchyard had always belonged to him. (fn. 963) In 1705 the glebe was worth c. £6 a year; the Easter payments should have been worth nearly £30 a year, but because of the poverty of the people and the cost and trouble of collecting it in so large a parish its actual value was £20. Surplice fees could amount to nearly £15. The vicar complained that the dissenters and especially the Quakers 'do by their obstinacy draw the vicar into many tedious and expensive suits for the recovery of his just rights', with the result that the value of the vicarage was considerably reduced. (fn. 964) In 1708 it was stated that the vicars had always been allowed 12d. for every mile which they had to travel in the parish to baptize a child away from the church. (fn. 965) George Roades (d. 1713), rector of Blithfield and son of George Roades, vicar of Leek 1662–95, left the tithe corn from several plots of land in Leek to the vicar for ever. (fn. 966) James Rudyard of Dieulacres, by will proved 1714, charged his estate with an annual payment of £2 to the vicar. (fn. 967)
A grant of £200 was made from Queen Anne's Bounty in 1793 to meet two benefactions of £100 each made that year by Thomas Mills the younger and Mrs. Pyncombe's trustees. It was used to buy 25 a. in Ipstones, which were let for c. £18 by 1824. A further grant of £600 was made in 1824. (fn. 968) When Leek moor was inclosed in 1811, the vicar was assigned 8½ a. in respect of his glebe and in lieu of the tithe corn and rents from 20 a. (fn. 969) His income in 1836 was £191 1s. 4d., consisting of £60 14s. in rent from land and sittings and in income from sermon endowments, £50 in Easter dues, £60 in fees, and £20 7s. 4d. in dividends from the 1824 grant. (fn. 970) In 1861 Queen Anne's Bounty made a grant of £150 to meet a benefaction of £300 from the earl of Macclesfield. (fn. 971) Vicars Close, consisting of 2½ a. on the Newcastle road, was sold in 1881, and in 1887 there was glebe of 35 a., with an estimated rental of £51. (fn. 972)
By the late 17th century the timber-framed vicarage house was in a ruinous state, and the parishioners rebuilt part of it when Thomas Walthall came as vicar in 1695. The rest was rebuilt in 1714 by George Jackson, vicar 1713–19, with the parishioners contributing c. £100. A summerhouse in the garden with a stable under it was built or rebuilt at the same time. (fn. 973) The house was enlarged by T. H. Heathcote after his institution in 1822 and again by his successor G. E. Deacon soon after his institution in 1861. (fn. 974)
By 1340 a chaplain was celebrating daily at the altar of St. Mary in Leek church; he held a messuage and a half and 12 a. in Leek for life by grant of William, vicar of Leek. William received royal licence in 1341 to use the property for the permanent endowment of a chantry at the altar. (fn. 975) The chapel of St. Mary was mentioned as a burial place in wills of 1545, (fn. 976) and the statue of Our Lady mentioned in 1543 presumably stood there. (fn. 977) In 1547 Robert Burgh of Leekfrith left 20d. to Our Lady's service at Leek. (fn. 978) In 1548 the chantry had lands worth more than £2 a year net and plate and ornaments worth 10s. It had its own wardens, who could dismiss the chaplain. (fn. 979) In 1549 the Crown sold the endowments, consisting of six messuages and land in Leek parish. (fn. 980)
By will proved 1537 Edmund Washington of Leek left £26 13s. 4d. to the new chapel of St. Catherine in Leek church to provide a stock chosen by the parish for the support of a priest to pray for the souls of Edmund's father and mother and for their children. Edmund directed that his son William 'shall sing for me if he will as long as the stock doth last' and that he was to be buried 'in my own form before St. Catherine'. (fn. 981)
Roger Banne, vicar 1569–1619, was described in the earlier 1590s as skilled in sacred letters and as a praiseworthy instructor of his flock. About 1603 he was stated to have no degree or licence to preach, but in 1604 there was a stipendiary named Pott who held a licence. (fn. 982) In 1614 and 1616 there was a licensed preacher named Robert Wattes. (fn. 983)
Several sermons and lectures were endowed in the 17th and 18th centuries. In 1619 John Rothwell of Leek gave £1 8s. a year for four sermons. (fn. 984) Elizabeth St. Andrew (d. 1644), widow of William St. Andrew of Gotham (Notts.) and daughter of John Wedgwood of Harracles in Longsdon, left 6s. 8d. for a sermon every Good Friday. (fn. 985) Leek was one of 12 places in Staffordshire which benefited in rotation from the double lecture on the last Friday of each month founded by John Machin of Seabridge in Stoke-upon-Trent, a Presbyterian minister, and given from 1653 to 1660. (fn. 986) By will proved 1675 John Stoddard of Thorneyleigh Green Farm in Leekfrith (d. 1675) left £1 a year for a sermon on the third Wednesday in April, June, and September (May, July, and September by 1726). (fn. 987) Thomas Jolliffe (d. 1693) gave £4 a year for a lecture on the first Wednesday of every month. (fn. 988) By will proved 1718 William Dudley of the Fields in Horton, and formerly of Lyme House in Longsdon, left 6s. 8d. for a sermon on 29 May, the anniversary of Charles II's restoration. (fn. 989) John Naylor of Leek (d. 1739) left £5 for a sermon on his birthday, 12 October, and William Mills of Leek (d. 1749) left 20s. a year for a sermon on his birthday, 20 November; the dates were changed to 23 October and 1 December following the change of the calendar in 1752. (fn. 990)
Margaret Shallcross (d. 1677), daughter of Thomas Rudyard and widow of Edmund Shallcross (d. 1645), rector of Stockport (Ches.), left her husband's books to the vicars of Leek. She also gave a rent charge of 20s. to repair and augment the collection. (fn. 991) In 1701 the books were kept in a press in the vicarage house. (fn. 992) A catalogue of 1711 compiled by the vicar, James Osbourne, lists 44 folio volumes, 67 quarto, 17 octavo, and 41 bound in leather. Between 1713 and 1737 the next four vicars added another 34 volumes. Thomas Loxdale, who added 20 of them; stated that the library had been much diminished before coming into the vicar's hands and that less of the income had been spent than might have been expected. (fn. 993) The last vicar to add to the library was Richard Bentley (d. 1822). (fn. 994) The Leek inclosure award of 1811 re placed the rent charge with just over 1 a. of land at the junction of Mount Road and Kniveden Lane. (fn. 995) A trust was established in 1963, with the vicar and the warden of Leek as trustees, and the land was sold for £100 the same year. (fn. 996) About 10 years later most of the contents of the library were sold. The income of the trust, some £50 a year in the early 1990s, was then spent on books for use by the clergy of the team rectory. (fn. 997) By will proved 1724 Lady Moyer left a copy of Isaac Barrow's Sermons and one volume of John Foxe's Book of Martyrs to be kept chained in the church. (fn. 998)
At the end of the 17th century communion services were held on Palm Sunday, Good Friday, Easter Sunday, Low Sunday, Whit Sunday, Trinity Sunday, the Sunday before and after Michaelmas, the last Sunday in December, and the first Sunday in January. The highest number of communicants in 1700 was 62 on Easter Sunday, with 40 on Palm Sunday and 35 on Good Friday; the lowest was 16 on Whit Sunday. (fn. 999) In 1709 the vicar, Thomas Walthall, stated that he read prayers every morning. (fn. 1000) As part of her endowment in 1717 of her charity school Lady Moyer assigned the vicar 20s. a year to catechize the children once a fortnight. In addition every Sunday after the sermon the children were to be allowed to sing hymns learnt at the school. (fn. 1001) In 1751 there were two services on Sunday, at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.; there were prayers on Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday and on all holy days. Children were catechized on Saturday evening during Lent. Communion was administered on the first Sunday in the month and on Christmas Day, Good Friday, Easter Sunday, the Sunday before or after Easter, Whit Sunday, and Trinity Sunday. The number of communicants at Easter and Whitsun was nearly 100 and at other times about 60. (fn. 1002) In 1834 Jeremiah Barnes, assistant curate at St. Edward's and master of the grammar school, started a monthly lecture at the school. It was so well attended that he began a lecture and service in the church every Sunday evening later the same year. A subscription was started in 1835 to meet the cost, including a stipend of £30 a year for the lecturer; in addition a special sermon was preached annually to raise funds. Barnes also started cottage lectures. The Sunday evening lecture continued at least until 1888. (fn. 1003) Attendances at the services on Census Sunday 1851 were 350 in the morning and 200 in the afternoon, besides Sunday school children, and 550 in the evening. (fn. 1004) A weekly offertory was introduced in 1864 in place of an inadequate monthly offertory. (fn. 1005)
In 1895 C. B. Maude, vicar 1887–96, established an institute in the former St. Edward's school in Clerk Bank, consisting of a working men's club and a young men's union. In 1896, as archdeacon of Salop and vicar of St. Chad's, Shrewsbury, he conveyed the building to trustees, and the institute became the Maude Church Institute for men and women attending St. Edward's. The parishioners subscribed £191 in recognition of Maude's services, and the money was given to the trustees to pay off the mortgage. (fn. 1006) The building, which was altered and enlarged in the mid 1970s, (fn. 1007) was used in the early 1990s by various voluntary organizations. The mission church of St. John the Evangelist in Mill Street was opened in 1875 as a school-church. It was built at the expense of John Robinson of Westwood Hall, who also paid for extensions in 1881. Until 1906 the church was the particular responsibility of an assistant curate at St. Edward's. A detached recreation room was built in 1927–8. The school was closed in 1938, but the building continued in use as a mission church. (fn. 1008)
The church of ST. EDWARD THE CONFESSOR is built of sandstone and consists of a chancel with a south aisle and a north vestry, a clerestoried nave which is aisled for three bays but continues west of the aisles as an area known as the parlour, a south porch, and a pinnacled west tower of two stages. In 1297 'the church of Leek was burnt down together with the whole town'. (fn. 1009) It is possible, however, that the closely spaced circular piers of the south arcade which survived until the earlier 19th century were 12th-century. As rebuilt after the fire the nave was long and narrow, perhaps reproducing its earlier proportions, and was evidently fully aisled on both sides. Part of the western respond of the north aisle remains and is evidence that the aisle formerly extended the full length of the nave. The north arcade had octagonal piers, three of which survived until the earlier 19th century. (fn. 1010) The lateral windows in the easternmost bays of both aisles are circular and filled with rose tracery of early to mid 14th-century design. The other aisle windows are of the same date, although much restored. The chancel was as wide as the nave, as is also the contemporary tower. Early in the 16th century the tower was remodelled and given a new top stage. At perhaps the same time the clerestory was added and the roofs of the aisles were renewed. In the early 1540s extensive work was carried out on the chancel. Fifty-nine loads of stone were used, and expenditure included £2 12s. 4d. on glass 'for the window' and £3 on plastering. Until the 1860s the chancel had a 16th-century east window. (fn. 1011) The west end of both aisles appears to have been removed during the 16th century, with the arcades being replaced by walls. Date stones of 1556 in the south aisle and 1593 in the north are probably relevant to that work. The east end of the south aisle was formed by a chapel known originally as the Abbot's chapel and later as Jodrell's chapel. In the mid 1760s there was mention of a seat called Jodrell's chapel. It was described in 1830 as an ancient canopied pew which was claimed by the occupiers of estates formerly belonging to Dieulacres abbey. It then evidently contained eight seats. (fn. 1012) A church porch, presumably the south porch, was repaired in 1663. (fn. 1013) The present south porch was built in 1670. (fn. 1014) A north door was repaired in 1674. (fn. 1015) The church had a spire in the 1660s and 1750s, but it was without one in 1795. (fn. 1016)
A gallery described in 1704 as the new gallery was then being repaired. (fn. 1017) It may have been the west gallery, which was stated in 1739 to have been in existence beyond living memory. A new west gallery was built that year extending over the unaisled part of the nave. (fn. 1018) A gallery for 'the charity children' was erected in 1725–6. (fn. 1019) A gallery over the south aisle was mentioned in 1807, (fn. 1020) and one over the north aisle, in existence by 1813, was altered in or soon after 1816. (fn. 1021) There was an organ gallery east of the chancel arch by the 1780s, probably erected when an organ was installed in the church in 1772. (fn. 1022)
A vestry was built on the north side of the chancel in 1785. It had fallen down by 1816 and was then rebuilt. (fn. 1023) A small porch was erected on the south side of the chancel in 1812 or 1813. (fn. 1024) Eight pinnacles were placed on the tower in 1815 or 1816. (fn. 1025)
The church was altered 1839–41 to the design of John Leech. The nave arcades were rebuilt as three bays where there had previously been four. Jodrell's chapel was removed and the side galleries were brought forward to the line of the arcades. The west end of the north aisle was remodelled to provide a porch with a stair to the west gallery. Besides private subscriptions grants were received from the Incorporated Church Building Society and the Lichfield Diocesan Church Building Society. (fn. 1026) The timber ceiling of the nave was restored by Ewan Christian in 1856. (fn. 1027)
The chancel was rebuilt 1865–7 to the design of G. E. Street. A south aisle with an arcade of two bays was added for the organ and extra seating. At the same time the base of the tower, which had been walled off from the nave and used as a mason's workshop, was opened into the nave. (fn. 1028) In 1874 the nave and aisles were reseated with open benches instead of box pews to a plan prepared by Street. (fn. 1029)
The side galleries were removed in 1956. (fn. 1030) In 1989–90 (fn. 1031) a floor was inserted in the tower to create a meeting room which extends under the west gallery and over the parlour. A kitchen and a lavatory were inserted on the ground floor of the tower.
In 1553 the plate consisted of a silver chalice and paten, and there was a brass cross. (fn. 1032) In 1994 the plate includes a 14th-century silver-gilt North German chalice and a silver Swiss chalice dated 1641, both given in 1912 by Mrs. Barron (nee Gaunt), two silver chalices and patens of 1777, one of the patens being the gift of Thomas Higginbotham, and a flagon of 1777 inscribed as the gift of F. M. (fn. 1033) There is also a wooden cross which belonged to Emperor Maximilian of Mexico; it is inlaid with mother of pearl and inset with a reputed relic of the True Cross. (fn. 1034) The church possesses several pieces of Leek embroidery, including three frontals designed respectively by Gerald Horsley, J. D. Sedding, and R. Norman Shaw. (fn. 1035)
In 1553 there were two bells and a hand bell; a sanctus bell had been sold for 12s. (fn. 1036) There were at least five bells in the later 17th century, (fn. 1037) and one was recast at Nottingham in 1677. (fn. 1038) The bells were recast in 1721 as a peal of six by Abraham Rudhall of Gloucester. (fn. 1039) In 1863 two bells were added, cast by John Warner & Sons of London, and in 1926 two more, cast by Gillett & Johnson of Croydon. (fn. 1040) A carillon made by Gillett & Bland of Croydon was installed by subscription in 1874; it consists of 14 tunes, one of which is played four times in the course of each day. (fn. 1041) A clock was repaired in 1663. (fn. 1042) In 1856 the improvement commissioners, who were already paying the cost of lighting the church clock, agreed to pay the cost of repairing and attending it also. It was still their only public clock in 1894. (fn. 1043) In 1874 they installed a clock by Gillett & Bland. Its mechanism was retained for the quarter and hour chimes when it was replaced by an electric clock in 1966–7. (fn. 1044)
An organ made by Glyn & Parker of Manchester was installed in 1772. It was replaced in 1878 by an organ made by Jardine & Co. of Manchester. (fn. 1045) In the early 19th century the organist was paid £30 a year, mostly from the rent of four plots of 'organ land' west of Mount Road which had been inclosed for the purpose before 1805. (fn. 1046)
In 1837 the archdeacon noted that an old font had been moved into the church from outside. (fn. 1047) It may have been the predecessor of the font installed in 1739. (fn. 1048) In 1867 a font was given in memory of John Cruso, and the 18th-century font is said to have been transferred to Kirknewton church in Northumberland. (fn. 1049) A pulpit with a reading desk and a sounding board was installed in 1718–19. (fn. 1050) A three-decker pulpit was installed under a faculty of 1785 on a new site on the south side of the chancel arch. (fn. 1051) It was moved to the north side during the alterations of 1839–41 and replaced by the present pulpit when the chancel was rebuilt 1865–7. (fn. 1052)
The graveyard of St. Edward was mentioned in 1281. (fn. 1055) It was walled by the 1660s, and there was mention of a little lich gate in 1672 and of the lich gate, the turn gate, and the new gate on the north side in the mid 1690s. (fn. 1056) The arched and pinnacled stone gateway on the south is dated 1684. Three yews were planted in the churchyard in 1698 and some Worcestershire and mountain elms on the north side in 1727. (fn. 1057) The churchyard was extended on the north in 1800 by 868 sq. yd. and in 1824 by ½ a. (fn. 1058) The church and churchyard were closed for new burials in 1857 on the opening of the cemetery on the Cheddleton road. (fn. 1059)
There are remains of several pre-Norman crosses in the church and churchyard. The rectangular-shafted cross south of the church was set up there in 1885 after lying for several years in three pieces against the east wall of the churchyard; it has a fragment of a runic inscription and may date from the early 9th century. The round-shafted cross south-east of the church is a particularly fine and well preserved example of its type, dating perhaps from the later 10th century. Inside the church are the remains of the wheel-head of a cross and also a stone from a rectangular shaft with a carving perhaps depicting Christ carrying the Cross or Christ wielding a cross as conqueror of sin. (fn. 1060)
In 1845 a district of ST. LUKE was formed out of St. Edward's parish; it covered the eastern part of Leek and Lowe township, including most of the eastern side of Leek town, and also Tittesworth township. (fn. 1061) The patronage of the perpetual curacy was vested in the Crown and the bishop alternately, with the Crown making the first presentation in 1845. (fn. 1062) Benjamin Pidcock, minister 1845–82, at first held services in a room over a stable in the yard of the Black's Head inn in Derby Street. In 1846 land bounded by Queen Street and Fountain Street was bought as the site for a church and school, and with the opening of the school in 1847 services were transferred there. (fn. 1063) The church was consecrated in 1848. The cost was met by subscriptions and grants from the Lichfield Diocesan Church Extension Society, the Incorporated Church Building Society, and Sir Robert Peel's Fund; money was also raised by the sale of land on the Ashbourne road left by Sarah Brentnall, née Grosvenor, as the site for a church. (fn. 1064) The perpetual curacy was styled a vicarage in 1868. (fn. 1065) In 1979 St. Luke's parish became part of the new Leek parish, with its vicar becoming a team vicar. (fn. 1066)
When the district was constituted in 1845, the Ecclesiastical Commissioners agreed to pay the minister £100 a year, with a further £30 when a building was licensed for worship and a total of £150 on the consecration of a church. Fees and Easter offerings brought in a further £30 in 1851. (fn. 1067) The vicar's income had risen to £265 by 1884. (fn. 1068) In 1856 land on the Ball Haye estate was bought as the site for a house, which was begun in 1857. (fn. 1069) A new house was built in Novi Lane in the mid 1970s. (fn. 1070)
Attendances at St. Luke's on Census Sunday 1851 were 83 in the morning and 110 in the afternoon, besides Sunday school children. (fn. 1071) Although all 650 sittings were free, a voluntary payment was made for some until 1859 when a weekly offertory was introduced instead. (fn. 1072) A surpliced choir existed by 1856. (fn. 1073) William Beresford, vicar 1882–1919, started a young men's society in 1884, and in 1903 he opened an institute and recreation room. (fn. 1074) A parish magazine was started in 1882. (fn. 1075) A parish hall was opened in 1930 in Organ Ground, the lane between Shirburn Road and Springfield Road; the site was given by the Challinor family in memory of William Challinor (d. 1926). The building became an annexe to the primary school in East Street in 1954. (fn. 1076) The infants' school in Queen Street, closed in 1981, became the parish hall.
A school-church opened at Compton in 1863 was replaced in 1887 by the church of All Saints, for which a new parish was formed in 1889. (fn. 1077) The school opened in Pump Street in Ball Haye Green in 1871 was soon used as a mission church also, known as St. Paul's by the 1930s. (fn. 1078) A new St. Paul's church was built in Novi Lane in 1971; the Church Commissioners made a grant of £15,000 towards the cost of the building. (fn. 1079) The Pump Street building survived in 1992 as a boy-scout headquarters. A school-church dedicated to the Good Shepherd was opened at Thorncliffe in Tittesworth in 1887. (fn. 1080)
St. Luke's church consists of a chancel with a north vestry and a north organ chamber, an aisled nave of five bays with a south porch, and a west tower with a south-east turret. Built of sandstone in a Gothic style, it was designed by F. J. Francis of London. (fn. 1081) When the church was consecrated in 1848, the tower had not been built beyond the first stage. It was completed in 1854 to the specifications of Francis and his brother Horace. At the same time a wall was built round the churchyard, which was closed for new burials in 1862. (fn. 1082) In 1873 the chancel was extended by 10 ft., its floor was laid with Minton tiles, and a reredos of Caen stone was erected. The work was designed by J. D. Sedding of Bristol, and most of the cost was met by C. H. Joberns, formerly an assistant curate. (fn. 1083) The panelling in the chancel was given by Susannah Argles in 1891 and 1892. The choir stalls were given in 1892 by the family of A. J. Worthington, and the carved angels were added to them in 1897 in memory of Ernest Worthington by his brother and sisters. (fn. 1084) The vestry was built in 1891. (fn. 1085) In 1894 the organ, installed in 1861, was moved from the north aisle into the chancel. (fn. 1086) The wooden chancel screen was erected in memory of William Challinor (d. 1926) and his daughter Mary Watson. (fn. 1087) The church possesses several pieces of Leek embroidery, some designed by Sedding; one frontal is dated 1873. (fn. 1088)
Henry Sneyd (d. 1859), incumbent of Wetley Rocks in Cheddleton, promoted a plan for a church in the Compton area, with a school and a house for the incumbent. By his death a site had been acquired in Compton, but there was not enough money for the full scheme. Instead a brick school-church, designed in a Gothic style by Robert Edgar, was opened on the site in 1863. (fn. 1089) Variously known as Compton schoolchurch and Christ Church, it was placed in the charge of an assistant curate at St. Luke's and by 1875 had its own wardens. (fn. 1090) By 1885 it had been enlarged twice to more than double its original size. (fn. 1091)
It was replaced as a church by ALL SAINTS' church on a site on the corner of Southbank Street and Compton, part of which was given by Joseph Challinor of Compton House, a Leek solicitor. (fn. 1092) The foundation stone was laid in 1885, and the church was consecrated in 1887. Challinor contributed nearly one third of the cost, and grants were made by the Lichfield Diocesan Church Extension Society and the Incorporated Church Building Society. All the sittings were free. (fn. 1093) The dedication to All Saints was chosen in 1885 because the earlier choice, St. Mary, was already the dedication of the nearby Roman Catholic church. (fn. 1094) A parish was formed in 1889 out of St. Luke's and St. Edward's parishes and included the southern part of the town and the Longsdon area. (fn. 1095) The patronage of the vicarage was vested in Joseph Challinor for life, with reversion to the bishop, but Challinor transferred it to the bishop in 1896. (fn. 1096) In 1979 All Saints' parish became part of the new parish of Leek, its vicar becoming a team vicar. (fn. 1097)
The vicar was supported by grants and benefactions until 1896, when the Ecclesiastical Commissioners granted a stipend of £150 a year. (fn. 1098) A bequest of £1,000 from Elizabeth Flint in 1905 increased the income to £210, besides grants from the churchwardens, fees, and Easter offerings. (fn. 1099) In 1890 a house in Compton Terrace formerly occupied by Eliza Bradshaw was presented as a vicarage house in memory of her. (fn. 1100) In 1902 a house in Compton adjoining the church was bought instead, and it remained the vicarage until 1972, when a new house was built next door. (fn. 1101)
W. B. Wright, priest in charge from 1882 and vicar 1889–1921, described himself in 1887 as practising 'a quiet Catholic (as opposed to Protestant and Roman) ritual', (fn. 1102) and All Saints' has continued in the High Church tradition. In 1889 the new parish took over from Endon church responsibility for the mission at Longsdon, for which a separate parish was formed in 1906. (fn. 1103) In 1892 a house in Pickwood Road was used as a mission centre. (fn. 1104) A monthly magazine was introduced in 1885. (fn. 1105) A men's club was started in 1893 with a clubroom opposite the vicarage. It was closed in 1896 because there were too many rival attractions, but in 1897 a clubroom for the men and boys of the parish was opened south of the church. (fn. 1106) A company of the Church Lads' Brigade was formed in 1894; a new company was formed in 1896 with a room in Shoobridge Street. (fn. 1107)
The church, which stands on a sloping site, consists of a chancel with an undercroft used as a vestry, an aisled and clerestoried nave of four bays, a large north porch, and a low central tower. (fn. 1108) Built of Kniveden stone, (fn. 1109) it was designed in a Gothic style by R. Norman Shaw, who in 1891 described the church as 'always a favourite child of mine'. (fn. 1110) The altar from the school-church, which was thought to have come from St. Edward's, was placed in the Lady chapel. (fn. 1111) The bell too was brought from the school-church, but in 1900 a new bell, cast by Mears & Stainbank of Whitechapel, was installed. (fn. 1112) The reredos, given by Hugh Sleigh, is a triptych showing the Crucifixion; the paintings are by R. Hamilton Jackson, and the frame was designed by W. R. Lethaby. (fn. 1113) Most of the decoration in the church was carried out after 1887. The glass is mainly by Morris & Co. from designs by Sir Edward Burne-Jones; two windows in the south aisle are respectively by Gerald Horsley and J. E. Platt. (fn. 1114) The wall paintings in the chancel are by Horsley and were given by Hugh Sleigh; those in the Lady chapel are by Horsley and by Platt. (fn. 1115) The font and the pulpit are thought to have been designed by W. R. Lethaby. (fn. 1116) The church possesses many pieces of Leek embroidery, including a funeral pall designed by Horsley. (fn. 1117) The plate includes a silver chalice and paten dated 1569 and given in 1963 under the will of Gilbert Tatton. (fn. 1118) The processional cross incorporates a late-medieval crucifix from the Rhineland given in 1896 by the Revd. T. Barns. On the south-west tower column is a crucifix thought to be 16th-century Spanish and given in memory of W. G. Keyworth, vicar 1921–41. The oil painting of the entombment of Christ hanging over the vestry door is thought to be of the 17th-century Venetian School and was given in 1894 by Thomas Wardle. (fn. 1119)
Four people in Leek parish were presented in 1589 for absence from church, three of them female members of the Comberford family. (fn. 1120) Two recusants were recorded in the mid 1590s (fn. 1121) and four in 1641. (fn. 1122) Prudence, the widow of Sir Thomas Trentham, was living at the family's Westwood Grange when she compounded for recusancy in 1629; she conformed soon afterwards and attended the parish church. (fn. 1123) Two ribbon weavers were the only papists in Leek parish returned in 1767, and in 1781 there were again only two papists returned. (fn. 1124) In the early 19th century Louis Gerard, the emigré priest at Cobridge in Burslem, said mass at Leek for French prisoners of war and Irish workers. The usual place was a room in Pickwood Road, but in the 1820s the garret of a house in King Street belonging to William Ward, a solicitor, was sometimes used. (fn. 1125)
About 1827 James Jeffries, the priest at Cheadle, started to say mass in Leek, probably in Ward's house, with a congregation of 15 or 16. He began building a chapel on the corner of Fountain Street and Portland Street in 1828 and opened it in 1829; the earl of Shrewsbury contributed £130 towards the cost of £700. Dedicated to St. Mary, it included an altarpiece depicting the Virgin and Child by Barney (probably Joseph Barney) and four paintings of saints brought from Lisbon by the Brigittine nuns who later settled at Aston Hall in Stone. Jeffries said mass on Monday morning, arriving from Cheadle on Sunday evening to stay with Henry Bermingham in London Road. (fn. 1126) He built a presbytery adjoining the chapel in 1830, and a resident priest was appointed about the beginning of 1832. (fn. 1127) A Sunday school had been established by 1834, and a day school was opened in 1845. (fn. 1128) The congregation appears to have declined in numbers in the 1830s: in 1839 it was stated that the many Irish who had formerly worked as broad-silk weavers in Leek had moved to Manchester and Macclesfield and that there were then few Irish in the mills. (fn. 1129) On Census Sunday 1851 the congregation numbered 167 in the morning and 115 in the evening, besides Sunday school children. (fn. 1130)
In 1860 Joseph Anderson, who had come as priest earlier in the year, established a small community of Irish nuns in the presbytery, and he himself went to live in lodgings. The nuns, who were members of the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary, took over the running of the school. They moved into a house in King Street in 1863. (fn. 1131) Later the same year Anderson moved into an adjoining cottage. The owner, Mr. Bermingham (probably Henry Bermingham), gave the garden as the site for a new church. A building of brick and stone designed in a Gothic style by William Sugden, St. Mary's church was opened in 1864. The chapel and house in Fountain Street were sold, the chapel becoming a silk shade. (fn. 1132)
A third St. Mary's was opened in 1887 east of the church of 1864, with the main approach from Compton. Designed in a Gothic style by Albert Vicars of London and built of Bath stone, it consists of a chancel with side chapels, an aisled nave of five bays with an organ gallery at the west end, and a lofty south-east tower and spire. There are sacristies in the south-east corner, and the north-east corner is occupied by the former nuns' chapel. The site was presented by J. H. Sperling; previously an Anglican clergyman, he was the father of A. M. Sperling, priest at Leek 1884–1923 (created a monsignor in 1916). Two bells, cast by Taylor & Co. of Loughborough, were given by the priest and his father. The church also possesses two pieces of Leek embroidery, an altar frontal and a cope. (fn. 1133) The church of 1864 became part of the school and was later used as the parish hall; by 1991 it had stood empty for several years, and it was burnt down in 1994. (fn. 1134) A new presbytery was completed north of the church in 1925. (fn. 1135) The nuns moved from King Street to a smaller house in Alsop Street in the 1970s, and they left Leek in 1980. (fn. 1136)
In 1648 the vicar of Leek, Francis Bowyer, signed the Staffordshire Testimony in favour of Presbyterianism. (fn. 1137) His successor, Robert Fowler, from 1652 styled himself 'pastor' in the parish register, (fn. 1138) possibly an indication of Presbyterian sympathy. Leek was one of the Staffordshire towns which benefited from the lectures endowed in 1653 by the Presbyterian John Machin of Seabridge, in Stoke-uponTrent, (fn. 1139) and Machin's friend Henry Newcome conducted and witnessed marriages in Leek in 1654 and 1655. (fn. 1140) In a letter to Bishop Hacket in 1664 the vicar, George Roades, drew attention to his labours in 'these barren bogs and heathenish moors' where he met almost daily opposition from 'gainsayers'. (fn. 1141) With the support of Anthony Rudyard of Dieulacres, in Leekfrith, Timothy Edge of Horton Hall, and William Jolliffe of Leek, all of them J.P.s, the members of the church at Leek developed Presbyterian sympathies, (fn. 1142) and it was Presbyterians who in 1672 registered the first place of worship for nonconformists in the town, following the Declaration of Indulgence that year.
The magistracy was less sympathetic to the stirrings of Quakerism which followed George Fox's preaching at Caldon in 1651 or 1652 and the visit to Leek of the Quaker missionary Richard Hickock in 1654. (fn. 1143) On return visits in 1656 and 1658 Hickock disputed with Ranters, and in 1658 he confronted a woman member of the Family of Love. (fn. 1144) Baptists and Ranters were numerous in the Leek area by 1660, when Quaker missionaries sought to convert them, with some success. (fn. 1145) Although Quakers established meetings in the area, it was not until the mid 1690s that a meeting house was opened in the town.
An 'abundance of Presbyterians and Quakers and some Anabaptists' were noted in Leek parish in 1706. (fn. 1146) More exact figures were given by the vicar in 1751. Out of 1,050 families in the parish, 20 were Quakers and 16 Presbyterians; there were also one or two 'reputed' Anabaptists. Some 30 or 40 people attended the Quaker meeting and a similar number the Presbyterian meeting, compared with about 60 who attended the monthly Anglican communion service at the parish church. (fn. 1147) Methodists formed a society in Leek in 1755, and they opened a chapel in 1785. On Census Sunday 1851 there were adult attendances of 1,510 at the Wesleyan Methodist chapels, 276 at the Primitive Methodist chapel, and 288 at the Congregational chapel. In contrast there were 1,293 attendances at the two Anglican churches and 282 at the Roman Catholic church. (fn. 1148)
A chapel at 'Lower End', possibly at the bottom of Mill Street, was registered for Particular Baptists in 1815; it no longer existed by 1834. (fn. 1149) Emmanuel Baptist church in Rosebank Street was registered for Old Baptists in 1934. The present Leek Baptist church on the same site was built in 1988. (fn. 1150)
CONGREGATIONALISTS, formerly PRESBYTERIANS, later UNITED REFORMED CHURCH.
The house of Thomas Nabes in Leek was licensed for Presbyterian worship in 1672. (fn. 1151) Presbyterians may have met in Derby Street later in the century. Land there was owned in 1683 by Randle Sillitoe, a feltmaker and probably a relative of the Randle Sillitoe who signed the Cheshire Testimony in favour of Presbyterianism in 1648, and it may have been the site of two cottages which were apparently rented in 1695 by Josiah Hargrave (or Hargreaves), later recorded as a Presbyterian minister in Leek. (fn. 1152) Presbyterians certainly had a meeting house in Derby Street by 1715, but they seem still in the 1690s to have met outside the town. A house registered for worship in 1695 at Dunwood, in Longsdon, may have been for Presbyterians, and a house registered in 1699 at Westwood, in Leek and Lowe, was almost certainly for them. (fn. 1153) A house at Westwood was the home in 1701 of Josiah Hargrave, who was left £20 by Roger Morrice (d. 1702), ejected as vicar of Duffield (Derb.) in 1662 and later a London merchant. The bequest was conditional on Hargrave's continuing to preach at Westwood, or at any other place 'in the Moorlands', for at least two years after Morrice's death. (fn. 1154) Hargrave was still living at Westwood in 1716. He was by then responsible for the Presbyterian meeting house in Derby Street, first recorded in 1715 when it was damaged by rioters. It stood on the west side of the Roebuck inn. (fn. 1155)
The congregation numbered 250 'hearers' in 1717, but in 1751 it was estimated that only 30 or 40 people attended the meeting. (fn. 1156) After the retirement of a Calvinist minister, James Evans, in 1782, a majority of the members chose a Unitarian, George Chadwick, as their minister. The choice caused a division in the church and a group of 36 members called Robert Smith to serve them. A lawsuit followed, and in 1784 Smith secured control. Although a trinitarian, Smith was not a Presbyterian, and under his leadership the Leek church became Congregationalist. In 1793, or possibly in 1780, a new chapel was built on the same site in Derby Street, with a graveyard in front.
In the early 19th century dissatisfaction with the ministry of James Morrow, on pastoral rather than doctrinal grounds, caused some members to attend Methodist services. In 1829 a large part of the congregation, with the support of the Congregationalist ministers of Staffordshire, seceded to form a new church. The seceders, who first met in a room behind the Black's Head inn in Derby Street, opened a chapel in Union Street in 1834. Morrow died in 1836, and the two congregations reunited, using the Union Street chapel and retaining the Derby Street chapel for a Sunday school and, until 1845, for mid-week services. Its graveyard was closed for new burials in 1857 on the opening of the cemetery on the Cheddleton road. (fn. 1157)
On Census Sunday 1851 the Union Street chapel had congregations of 120 in the morning, besides Sunday school children, and 168 in the evening. (fn. 1158) Numbers increased, and in 1860 it was decided to build a larger chapel on the Derby Street site. The new chapel was opened in 1863. Built of stone, it was designed in a Decorated style, with a tower and spire, by William Sugden, a member of the congregation. (fn. 1159) The organ occupied an apse at the south end, and there was a north gallery. In 1872 a meeting hall and classrooms, also designed by Sugden, were built to the south in Russell Street. (fn. 1160) The Union Street chapel was turned into a public hall by the town's temperance society in 1864. (fn. 1161) A house at the north end of King Street, dated 1880 and probably built for William Broster, a silk manufacturer, was bought as a manse in 1898. It became a hall for the town's Freemasons in 1926. (fn. 1162)
An evangelist was appointed in 1867, but he had little success. Another was engaged in 1878 to take services in a mission opened in Alsop Street school in 1876 and closed in 1935. There were also short-lived missions at Ball Haye Green (1882–93) and in Angle Street (1887–95). (fn. 1163)
The congregation became Leek United Reformed Church in 1972. In 1977 it joined Leek Central Methodist Church to form Trinity Church, using the Derby Street chapel. (fn. 1164) In 1981 the chapel was re-ordered internally, the organ being rebuilt with parts from an organ installed in Brunswick Methodist chapel in 1857, and the space under the gallery was converted into a vestibule. (fn. 1165)
FRIENDS, SOCIETY OF (QUAKERS).
The first Quaker missionary to visit Leek and the Moorlands was Richard Hickock in 1654. He disrupted a service at St. Edward's church and was ejected by the congregation. The first converts included William Davenport of Fould Farm, in Leekfrith, Matthew Dale of Rudyard, and Thomas Hammersley of Basford, in Cheddleton, each of whom established a meeting at his home. Another convert, William Yardley of Dairy House, in Horton, was imprisoned in 1655 for speaking out in Leek church. When Hickock returned to Leek in 1656, the J.P.s placed armed men outside Quaker meeting places and put in the stocks those who travelled to hear him. (fn. 1166) Hickock made a third visit in 1658, and in 1660 two other Quaker missionaries, Oliver Atherton and Richard Moore, visited Leek. (fn. 1167) In 1675 William Yardley preached at a conventicle held at the house of Sarah Sleigh and Hannah Hay in Leek; he was fined £20 and the women £10 each. (fn. 1168)
By 1680 Friends in the Leek area had joined together to form a monthly meeting. (fn. 1169) Land at Overton Bank was acquired in 1694 from the daughters of Gervase Gent, a Friend, and a meeting house had been built by 1697. (fn. 1170) A schoolmaster engaged by Friends in Staffordshire in 1697 was based in Leek. (fn. 1171)
A separate monthly meeting held alternately at Whitehough and Bottom House, both in Ipstones, was amalgamated with the Leek meeting in 1712. (fn. 1172) In 1721, as an experiment for the summer months, it was agreed to hold two meetings for worship at Leek on Sundays, one at 10.30 a.m. for both 'country' and 'town' members and another at 3 p.m. for 'town' members. (fn. 1173) The meeting was evidently the largest in Staffordshire in the early 18th century: its contribution to national funds was normally twice that of Stafford's. (fn. 1174) In 1735 the meeting comprised 125 adults and children, at least a third of whom lived outside the town. (fn. 1175) In 1751 it was estimated that 30 or 40 attended meetings, which were held at noon on Sundays and Thursdays. (fn. 1176) There was a library of some 200 books in 1736. (fn. 1177)
There was a women's meeting by 1674, and minutes of it survive from 1709 to 1717. (fn. 1178) It met irregularly by 1763, but it was on a sounder footing by 1776 and still existed in 1837. (fn. 1179) An itinerant female minister, Frances Dodshon, was a member of the Leek meeting in the early 1770s. (fn. 1180) By 1790 there was a resident female minister, Hannah West (d. 1809). (fn. 1181)
From an early date the Leek Friends had connexions with Quaker settlements in America. Gervase Gent (d. probably 1690), apparently an apothecary, owned property in America, (fn. 1182) and in 1702 Samuel Stretch, a clockmaker, emigrated to Philadelphia. (fn. 1183) Stretch may have been associated with the plan in 1707 to send two children who were staying at John Stretch's home in Leek to Pennsylvania. (fn. 1184) In 1754 Cornelius Bowman of Pennsylvania visited Leek, where his family were Friends; he remained in England and was still associated with the Leek meeting in 1770. (fn. 1185) Links with America continued into the early 19th century. In 1804 the Leek meeting commended Henry Bowman and his family to the Quaker meeting at Oswego in New York state. (fn. 1186)
Leading Quakers in the town in the 18th century included Joshua Toft of Haregate Hall, in Tittesworth, a button merchant, and his brother John, a silk weaver. Both men were also ministers. (fn. 1187) Another Quaker button merchant, Joshua Strangman, who married Joshua Toft's niece Ann Toft in 1752 and lived at no. 62, St. Edward Street, (fn. 1188) entertained his friend John Wesley in Leek in 1774. (fn. 1189) Members of the Key family who were Quakers included several button merchants (fn. 1190) and the physician Robert Key (d. 1761). (fn. 1191)
The Leek Friends seem to have been tolerated in the 18th century. (fn. 1192) Their separateness, however, was maintained and those who married outside the society were disowned. (fn. 1193) By 1783 the meeting had so declined that it was decided to amalgamate it with the Stafford monthly meeting. (fn. 1194) Leek Friends thereafter held a preparative meeting. That meeting was itself discontinued in 1843, when members joined a meeting in Stoke-upon-Trent. Sunday meetings for worship, however, were still held at Leek until 1846. (fn. 1195) The Leek meeting was revived in 1880 but survived only until 1894. (fn. 1196) Another revival took place in 1932. At first the Friends had to meet in private houses, the meeting house at Overton Bank having been let in 1896 to the William Morris Labour Church. The lease was evidently surrendered in 1936, and the Leek meeting was re-established in 1937. (fn. 1197) Meetings for worship were still held in 1992.
The meeting house of the mid 1690s at Overton Bank is built of stone; it had a gallery by 1708. (fn. 1198) It was damaged by Jacobite troops in 1745. (fn. 1199) In 1770 the croft on which it stood had recently been converted into a garden, and there was a new stable block for the use of Friends who attended the meeting from a distance. The buildings also included a 'house of ease'. (fn. 1200) Land on the north side of the meeting house was used for burials, the last taking place in 1954. (fn. 1201)
From 1942 to 1944 Jehovah's Witnesses met in a room in Globe Passage off High Street. They later met in King Street (1944–51), Barngate Street (1951–6), and Ball Haye Street (1956–64). The meeting then ceased, but it was revived in 1974, using a room in Ashbourne Road. The present Kingdom Hall, occupying the former Regal cinema at the corner of High Street and Salisbury Street, was registered in 1987. (fn. 1202)
A Methodist society of 24 members was formed in Leek in 1755. Preaching took place at Nab Hill, but there was no regular meeting place when John Wesley visited the town in 1772. By the time of Wesley's second visit in 1774, a room behind the Blackmoor's Head inn in Derby Street was used. (fn. 1203) Wesley visited Leek for a third time in 1782, when he preached to a congregation of some 800 in the parish church on Easter Sunday, in both the morning and the evening. After the evening service there was a Lovefeast, described by Wesley as 'such a one as I had not seen for many years'. (fn. 1204)
Membership of the Leek society numbered 30 in 1784, a year after it was included in the newly created Burslem circuit. A chapel was built at Mount Pleasant on the east side of Clerk Bank in 1785. (fn. 1205) Wesley preached there in 1788, commenting that 'where for many years we seemed to be ploughing upon the sand... at length the fruit appears'. (fn. 1206) The membership was then 96, sufficient to warrant the creation in 1792 of a circuit for the Leek area alone. (fn. 1207) In 1811, when there were 178 members, a new chapel was built at Mount Pleasant with a graveyard attached. (fn. 1208)
The old chapel was converted into houses, used by the circuit's preachers from 1833 until 1849 or 1850 when James Wardle, a Leek silk manufacturer, gave a house in Regent Street as a manse. (fn. 1209) The graveyard at Mount Pleasant was closed for burials in 1857, on the opening of the cemetery on the Cheddleton road. (fn. 1210)
A chapel was built at the corner of Ball Haye Street and Regent Street in 1828. The building was originally intended for use as a Sunday school only, but it was fitted with a gallery and an organ at the expense of James Wardle and was also used for services. (fn. 1211) Two Sunday services were held there in 1829, and by 1832 it was known as Brunswick chapel. (fn. 1212) At Ball Haye Green there was a fortnightly Sunday service in 1829, but apparently none by 1832. (fn. 1213) Services were again held there from 1846, in a building between Prince Street and Pump Street opened as a Sunday school in 1845. (fn. 1214)
On Census Sunday 1851 there were morning congregations of 294 at Mount Pleasant and 124 at Brunswick, afternoon congregations of 161 at Mount Pleasant and 60 at Ball Haye Green, and evening congregations of 517 at Mount Pleasant, 296 at Brunswick, and 58 at Ball Haye Green. There were also Sunday schools at all three places. (fn. 1215)
Brunswick chapel was replaced by a chapel of the same name in Market Street in 1857. Built of brick with stone dressings, it was designed in a Gothic style by William Sugden and paid for by James Wardle. (fn. 1216) A chapel was opened in Mill Street in 1871 as part of a building which also housed a ragged school, (fn. 1217) and in 1894 a chapel was opened in Milk Street at Ball Haye Green. (fn. 1218) By 1881 the Wesleyans had also opened a room in Haywood Street for the Hallelujah Band Mission, but the registration was cancelled in 1895. (fn. 1219) In 1909 a building at the back of Mount Pleasant chapel was converted into a social centre called the Wesleyan Institute. (fn. 1220)
From 1974 the congregations of Mount Pleasant and Brunswick used their chapels for joint services on alternate Sundays. They united as the Central Methodist Church in 1976, continuing to use both chapels. (fn. 1221) In 1977 the congregation amalgamated with Leek United Reformed Church to form Trinity Church, using the United Reformed Church building in Derby Street. (fn. 1222) Brunswick chapel was closed in 1976 and demolished in 1977. (fn. 1223) Mount Pleasant chapel was demolished in 1980, and sheltered flats were opened on the site. (fn. 1224) Mill Street chapel was closed in 1990, (fn. 1225) but the Milk Street church at Ball Haye Green remained open for worship in 1992.
A society of New Connexion Methodists was formed in Leek in 1856, meeting first in the Temperance Society's lecture room in Stockwell Street and then in the Friends' meeting house at Overton Bank. A chapel, designed by Robert Scrivener of Hanley, was opened in 1862 at the corner of Ball Haye Street and Queen Street. (fn. 1226) It was known as Bethesda chapel by 1875. (fn. 1227) Closed in 1941, the building was taken over in 1949 by the former Primitive Methodist congregation from Fountain Street. Again closed in 1963, the chapel was used for commercial purposes until its demolition in the late 1980s. (fn. 1228)
A Primitive Methodist chapel was built at the west end of Fountain Street in 1836. On Census Sunday 1851 there was a congregation of 59 in the morning, besides Sunday school children, and 217 in the evening. (fn. 1229) The chapel was rebuilt in 1884. (fn. 1230) In 1949 the congregation moved to the former New Connexion chapel in Ball Haye Street, and the Fountain Street building was used for various purposes until its demolition in the early 1970s. (fn. 1231)
Pentecostalists first met in Leek in 1931, using the Congregationalists' hall in Russell Street before moving to premises in Globe Passage off High Street. In the early 1940s they moved to Strangman Street. The present church in Buxton Road was built in 1978. (fn. 1232)
In 1987 the former pastor of the Buxton Road Pentecostalist church established a separate congregation called Oasis Ministries in the former Methodist school in West Street. (fn. 1233) The congregation still met there in 1992.
PRESBYTERIANS, see CONGREGATION-ALISTS.
QUAKERS, see FRIENDS, SOCIETY OF.
A Salvation Army barracks in Haywood Street was registered for worship in 1887. (fn. 1234) Gen. William Booth addressed a meeting in the town hall in 1898 and in 1911. (fn. 1235) The barracks was replaced in 1905 by a citadel in Union Street, itself replaced in 1912 by a hall in Ball Haye Road and that in 1914 by a hall in Ford Street. (fn. 1236) A hall at the corner of Salisbury Street and Strangman Street, registered in 1936, (fn. 1237) remained in use in 1992.
UNITED REFORMED CHURCH, see CON-GREGATIONALISTS.
WILLIAM MORRIS LABOUR CHURCH.
In 1881 the Leek architect Larner Sugden began to publish essays and lectures by various authors under the general title of Leek Bijou Freethought Reprints. They included, in 1884, Art and Socialism by William Morris, a frequent visitor to Leek in the later 1870s. (fn. 1238) Chiefly through Sugden's influence, a Labour Church bearing Morris's name was established in Leek in 1896, the year of Morris's death. It leased the Friends' meeting house at Overton Bank, which underwent extensive redecoration. The walls were painted red with stencilled tracery designed by Walter Crane, and the woodwork was painted a translucent green. The windows were provided with blue velvet curtains in a Morris fabric. Other furnishings included a blue silk banner painted by Stephen Webb. (fn. 1239) None of the decorations or furnishings survives. Services were moved probably c. 1910 to the Co-operative Society's hall in Ashbourne Road. They later ceased, although the church was still active politically in 1935. (fn. 1240)
The church organized regular addresses by notable speakers on humanist, social, and religious subjects, which caused the local novelist Kineton Parkes to comment that 'a wave of intellectual and semi-intellectual activity flooded the town'. (fn. 1241) Sugden died in 1901 and was cremated at Manchester, the first person from Leek to be cremated. (fn. 1242) A fund was established in the same year to continue the addresses and provide an anniversary lecture in Sugden's honour. The last recorded address was given in April 1903. (fn. 1243)
In 1822 John Jones, a Leek schoolmaster who by 1824 was a follower of Emanuel Swedenborg, registered his schoolroom behind the Black's Head inn in Derby Street for worship by protestant dissenters. Swedenborgians still met there occasionally c. 1830. (fn. 1244) A Swedenborgian missionary from Manchester gave lectures in Leek in 1859, but no society appears to have been formed. (fn. 1245)
In 1864 the Friends' meeting house at Overton Bank was let to Christian Brethren. (fn. 1246) Also known as Plymouth Brethren, they were presumably the 'persons who object to be designated by any distinctive sectarian appellation' who in 1867 registered the meeting house for worship. They had ceased to meet there by 1871, but Brethren were still active in the town in the 1880s. (fn. 1247)
The Salvation Navy registered a harbour in London Street in 1882. The registration was cancelled two months later. (fn. 1248)
The United Christian Army registered a mission hall in Strangmans Walk in 1883. The registration was cancelled later the same year. (fn. 1249)
Spiritualists held services in the Friends' meeting house at Overton Bank in 1924, and in the mid 1930s they ran a Sunday school there. Services continued to be held there until the late 1950s. (fn. 1250)
Seventh Day Adventists started to hold services in a private house in Leek in 1980. In 1982 they transferred their services to the Friends' meeting house, where they still met in 1992. (fn. 1251)
SOCIAL AND CULTURAL ACTIVITIES
In the earlier 1830s a wake was held on the third Sunday in October, possibly in association with the feast of the Translation of Edward the Confessor (13 October), then regarded as the patron saint of the parish church. (fn. 1252) It had probably been held at that time of the year at least since the early 18th century: horse races held in Leek in October 1708 were probably connected with the wake. In 1841 there was a four-day holiday following the Sunday wake, and horse racing took place on the Monday and Tuesday. (fn. 1253) After the horse racing was stopped in 1851, many people went instead on the Monday to Trentham Gardens, Belle Vue in Manchester, or other attractions. (fn. 1254) At the request of employers, the town's improvement commissioners abolished wakes week as a holiday in 1883, substituting the first Friday in August (Club Day) and the three following working days. (fn. 1255) Wakes Monday, however, was still a school holiday in 1931. (fn. 1256) From the earlier 1950s what was called Leek Mills (or Mill) holiday was taken on the first Monday in October. It evidently lapsed in the later 1960s. (fn. 1257)
The custom of choosing a mock mayor for the town existed by 1758. The office-holder that year was John Sneyd of Bishton, in Colwich, who announced that he would hold a feast at the Cock inn in January 1759. (fn. 1258) The occasion is probably identifiable with the annual Venison Feast recorded in 1837 when it was held early in October. The venison was supplied by the duke of Sutherland, the owner of Wall Grange Farm, in Longsdon. The feast was still held in 1889. (fn. 1259)
The traditional sport of heaving in Easter week had apparently ceased by the later 19th century, but the custom of dragging a plough on Plough Monday (the Monday after Twelfth Night) was still observed. (fn. 1260) Children went begging for soul cakes on All Saints' Day until the eve of the First World War. (fn. 1261)
SUNDAY SCHOOL FESTIVAL.
An annual procession of Sunday school children was first recorded in 1828, when it took place on the last Sunday in August. About 1,000 children from the Wesleyan Methodist Sunday school walked that day, and hymns were sung in the market place. (fn. 1262) By the mid 19th century the event was known as Cap Sunday, from the caps worn by the girls until 1859. Because the crowds of onlookers attracted to the event were considered inappropriate for a Sunday, the procession was moved in 1859 to the afternoon of Club Day, the first Friday in August. By then the children walked with banners and flags and were accompanied by bands. (fn. 1263) In 1860, evidently for the first time, children from the Church of England Sunday schools took part; they walked on their own, however, after the Wesleyans had finished singing in the market place. Children from the Congregational church seem not to have joined in the walking until 1867; from 1893 children from the Roman Catholic church also participated. (fn. 1264) In the late 1890s Anglicans no longer walked on the same day as the nonconformists and Roman Catholics, but they again took part with the others from 1909. By then the procession took place on the third Saturday in July, the date having been changed probably in 1906. The change of date was probably made to dissociate the event from Club Day, with its secular entertainments, and the title Leek Sunday School Festival was in use by 1910. (fn. 1265) Roman Catholic children could take part because the festival was not regarded as an act of worship, there being hymns but no prayers. The Lord's Prayer and Bible readings, however, were introduced in 1969. (fn. 1266)
Foxhunting in the Leek area was evidently organized by the Leek Hunt recorded in 1794. Hounds were then kept by Richard Badnall, a silk dyer. (fn. 1267) In 1820 a pack called the Moorland Foxhounds hunted a country which covered Leek, Biddulph, and Draycott-in-theMoors. (fn. 1268)
Horse races at Leek were recorded in October 1708 and again in October 1748. (fn. 1269) In 1803 a two-day meeting on Leek moor was advertised for the Monday and Tuesday after the third Sunday in October, and in 1833 racing took place on the same two days on a course at Birchall Dale on the west side of the Cheddleton road. (fn. 1270) Races still took place at Birchall Dale in 1850, but in 1851 the owner refused permission for the use of the course and the races were cancelled. (fn. 1271) Races were again held on the Birchall Dale course in 1863, 1864, and probably 1865. (fn. 1272) No racing took place in 1866, but in 1867 races were held in the newly opened park at Highfield Hall, in Leekfrith, where they continued until 1870. (fn. 1273)
From 1867 an additional meeting was held at Highfield park on the Monday and Tuesday following the town's Club Day on the first Friday in August. Known as the North Staffordshire Meeting by 1868, the races continued until 1870. There was a revival in 1883, the Birchall Dale course being used. The meeting evidently failed to attract visitors in 1889 and was not revived. (fn. 1274)
There was land called the Bowling Green behind the Queen's Head inn in Spout Street (later St. Edward Street) in 1724, (fn. 1275) and in 1766 there was evidently a bowling green in Stockwell Street. (fn. 1276) A bowling green opened in Beggars Lane in 1911 (fn. 1277) was used by Leek Bowling Club in 1992. A bowling green was opened in Brough Park in 1923. It has been used by Leek Park Bowling Club from the club's formation in 1928. (fn. 1278)
In the mid 18th century the churchwardens tried to stop 'the lads' playing football in the churchyard, especially on Sundays. In 1783 the wardens engaged a man for 5s. a year to enforce the ban; he was still employed in 1786. (fn. 1279) Leek Town Football Club originated in a club which was formed in 1873 and adopted Association rules in 1876. (fn. 1280) By 1892 the club played on a pitch in the grounds of Highfield Hall, moving to its present ground in Macclesfield Road in the later 1940s. (fn. 1281) In 1990 the club was the losing finalist at Wembley for the Football Association Challenge Trophy. (fn. 1282) Ball Haye Green Football Club was formed in 1880. It has played on its present ground behind Ball Haye Green Working Men's Club since the later 1940s. (fn. 1283) Leek Alexandra Football Club was formed by 1892 and still existed in 1927. (fn. 1284)
Leek Rugby Union Football Club was formed in 1924. Discontinued during the Second World War, it was revived in 1946, playing on the ground at Birchall Dale still in use in 1992. (fn. 1285)
A cricket club existed by 1838. (fn. 1286) It was evidently re-organized in 1844 as the Leek and Moorlands Cricket Club, which at first played at Barnfields. Free use of a ground in Beggars Lane was given by John Davenport from 1852. In 1866 the club moved to a ground at Highfield Hall, also given free by the owner, Arthur Nicholson. A decision in 1874 to return to Beggars Lane led to a dispute, and a new club called Leek Highfield was formed by those who preferred not to move back. The two clubs were reunited in 1919 as Leek Cricket Club, using the Highfield ground for matches and that in Beggars Lane for practice. (fn. 1287) Houses were built over the Beggars Lane ground c. 1990, but the Highfield ground continued in use.
Leek and Moorlands Bicycle Club, formed in 1876, changed its name in the earlier 1880s to Leek Cyclists' Club. (fn. 1288) It still existed in 1992.
Leek Golf Club, formed in 1892, moved in 1923 to a course on the west side of the Cheddleton road, where it remained in 1992. The clubhouse was designed by Longden & Venables. (fn. 1289) Westwood Golf Club on the north side of the Newcastle road near Wall Bridge was formed in 1923 and was at first for artisans. A clubhouse, designed by David Horne of GCW Architects of Stoke-on-Trent, was opened in 1992. (fn. 1290)
Abbey View Tennis Club was formed in 1913 with courts on the part of the Ball Haye Hall estate given that year for Brough Park. (fn. 1291) The club still existed in 1992. Of the several tennis clubs associated with the town's churches the longest lived was probably that for St. Luke's, which may have existed before 1914. It certainly existed in 1921, and it survived until 1965. (fn. 1292)
A gymnasium was opened next to the Nicholson Institute in 1901. Paid for by William Carr, it was designed by Larner Sugden and has external decoration and lettering by A. Broadbent. Carr gave the gymnasium to the urban district council, and in 1992 it was bought by Leek College. (fn. 1293) A swimming pool was opened in Brough Park in 1975. (fn. 1294) Squash courts were opened nearby in 1977, and a sports hall was added in 1986. (fn. 1295)
PARKS AND RECREATION GROUNDS.
In 1867 a committee took a seven-year lease of the grounds at Highfield Hall, in Leekfrith, and opened them as a park for the town's working population. There was an entry charge of 1d. The committee provided facilities for bowling and croquet and encouraged athletics by staging sports days on the first Sunday of each month. The first such day, in June 1867, attracted 1,600 spectators. The park was also used for horse racing. The lease was surrendered in 1870, probably for financial reasons, and public use of the park was discontinued after that year's autumn horse races. (fn. 1296)
It was presumably the loss of the Highfield park which caused the improvement commissioners in November 1870 to take a lease of land on the south side of Britannia Street for a recreation ground. That ground continued in use until 1878, when it was bought for housing and Gladstone Street and Chorley Street were laid out over the site. (fn. 1297) Presumably to replace it the commissioners in 1879 laid out a 5-a. recreation ground between Westwood Road and Spring Gardens. (fn. 1298) Pickwood recreation ground, also 5 a., was presented to the town by William Challinor of Pickwood on the occasion of Queen Victoria's jubilee in 1887. (fn. 1299) Land called the Waste on the west side of the Buxton road on the outskirts of town was opened as a public pleasure ground in the mid 1890s by W. S. Brough, who lived nearby at Buxton Villa. (fn. 1300)
In 1913 Brough gave the urban district council 10½ a. of his Ball Haye Hall estate for use as a public park. Because of the First World War the conversion was postponed. The site was extended by 8½ a. given in 1921 by Joseph Tatton, and by 1923 it was called Brough Park. It was officially opened in 1924, and a bandstand was built the same year. (fn. 1301)
A recreation ground at Ball Haye Green was laid out after 1919 as a war memorial. (fn. 1302) In 1937 the urban district council bought 24 a. at Birchall Dale on the west side of the Cheddleton road, and playing fields were laid out for hire to local clubs. (fn. 1303)
From his appointment as choirmaster and organist at St. Edward's church in 1835 Benjamin Barlow encouraged the development of music in the town. He was the pianist when the Leek Philharmonic Society, established in 1839, gave the first in a series of subscription concerts in October that year in the assembly room at the Swan inn. The society still existed in 1857. (fn. 1304) In 1842 Barlow arranged for Joseph Mainzer, the pioneer teacher of choirs according to the sol-fa method, to give lectures in Leek on congregational singing. (fn. 1305) It was almost certainly Barlow who founded Leek Church Choral Society, in existence by 1857, (fn. 1306) and he was probably involved in the formation in 1864 of Leek and District Association for Promoting Church Music, which sought to encourage congregational singing in Anglican churches. (fn. 1307) Leek United Choral Society, also in existence by 1857, (fn. 1308) was probably a nonconformist group.
Leek Amateur Musical Society, formed in 1866, gave concerts in the Temperance Hall until 1888, when it moved to the town hall in Market Street. It still existed in 1913. (fn. 1309) In the 1930s two societies, Leek Choral Society and Leek Orchestral Society, gave joint concerts. After the Second World War there was no established choral society until the present Leek Choral Society was founded in the early 1970s under the direction of Keith Davis, the choirmaster at Brunswick Methodist church. (fn. 1310)
Leek Amateur Opera Society was formed in 1893, usually staging its productions in the Grand Theatre. A performance in 1927 was apparently its last. (fn. 1311) An operatic society established at All Saints' church in 1927 was known from 1961 as All Saints' Amateur Operatic Society. Although the society still existed in 1992, no performance had been given since 1987 because of the lack of a suitable public hall for large-scale productions following the demolition of the town hall in 1988. (fn. 1312) The Leekensian Amateur Operatic Society was formed in 1958. From 1960 until 1974 it used the Grand Theatre and then the town hall. Since 1988 performances have been given in Trinity church in Derby Street. (fn. 1313)
A band led a parade by the town's friendly societies in 1830, and in 1834 one led the cortege at the funeral of a member of a silk operatives' union. (fn. 1314) There was a drum and fife band by 1857, and in 1860 a similar band was formed by the recently established rifle volunteers. (fn. 1315) Leek Harmonic Brass Band was formed in 1867 and held Friday evening concerts in the market place during the summer. It is probably identifiable as the band which played in the market place on Monday evenings in the early 1870s and was called Leek Promenade Band in 1873. (fn. 1316) A band called the Talbot played on Thursday evenings in 1873 in the cattle market at the east end of Derby Street. (fn. 1317)
Six Italian bagpipe players lodging in Leek in 1871 were presumably itinerant entertainers. (fn. 1318)
A dancing master taught in Leek in 1714 and 1715. (fn. 1319) By 1789 assemblies were held at the Swan in a room which survives at the back. Assemblies were still held at the Swan in the later 1820s, and a charity ball was held there in 1835. (fn. 1320) In the late 1850s an annual town ball was held at the Red Lion. (fn. 1321) One was apparently held at the town hall in the early 20th century. (fn. 1322)
A room over a stable in the courtyard of the Golden Lion in Church Street had been used as a playhouse or club room for some years before 1782. In 1787 it was called the Long Room or Play Room. (fn. 1323) A company led by Samuel Stanton included Leek in its circuit in 1789, and for the 1791–2 season it was based in the town while its theatre at Stafford was being rebuilt. On both occasions the company included Harriot Mellon, later duchess of St. Albans. (fn. 1324) The venue was presumably the assembly room at the Swan, where a theatre mentioned in 1791 was still in use in 1834. (fn. 1325) In 1832 an amateur performance took place at what was called the Theatre Royal, which occupied premises at the Red Lion. (fn. 1326) The Grand Theatre and Hippodrome, built at the corner of High Street and Field Street in 1909, was at first used chiefly as a music hall. Even after it had become principally a cinema in 1915, performances by visiting professional companies and local amateur societies were occasionally given there. (fn. 1327) By the 1960s the usual place for such performances was the town hall.
The tercentenary of Shakespeare's birth in 1864 was celebrated in Leek by readings from his works in the Wesleyan Methodist school in West Street. (fn. 1328) Leek Amateur Dramatic Society had been formed by 1870 but seems not to have lasted. (fn. 1329) In 1883 Leek Philothespian Club was founded to perform plays and give recitations. It performed in public twice yearly, usually in the Temperance Hall. Its last known production was in 1905. (fn. 1330) A new Amateur Dramatic Society was formed in 1927; its last production was in 1958. (fn. 1331) St. Luke's Players, in existence by 1948, were renamed Leek Players in 1991. (fn. 1332)
John Snape's Travelling Theatre played at Leek in 1853, evidently during wakes week. (fn. 1333) In the 1870s travelling companies played in the cattle market at the east end of Derby Street, and the Victoria Pavilion Theatre used that site in the early 20th century. (fn. 1334)
Wombwell's menagerie visited Leek in 1822. (fn. 1335) On a visit in 1839 it engaged a local man, James Bostock of Horton, who married George Wombwell's niece, and from 1867 he managed the company. James was succeeded as manager by his son Edward, 'the British Barnum', who included Leek in the company's last tour c. 1930. (fn. 1336)
Moving pictures were shown at the Nicholson Institute by Messrs. Stokes and Watson of Manchester in 1898. (fn. 1337) The Grand Theatre in High Street first included films among its entertainments in 1910, and from 1915 it was principally a cinema. (fn. 1338) It was closed in the mid 1980s.
Between 1910 and 1912 a roller-skating rink at the corner of High Street and Salisbury Street was converted to a cinema. Known first as the Salisbury Electric Picture Palace and in the 1920s and 1930s as the Picture Theatre, it was called the Regal by the 1960s. It then became a bingo hall, continuing as such until 1987, when it was taken over by the Jehovah's Witnesses as their Kingdom Hall. (fn. 1339)
The Majestic cinema, occupying the former Temperance Hall in Union Street, was opened in the earlier 1920s. It was gutted by fire in 1961 and was not reopened. (fn. 1340)
ARTS CLUB AND FESTIVAL.
Leek and District Arts Club was founded in 1948 with support from the urban district council and the Arts Council of Great Britain. That year the urban district council converted the museum in the Nicholson Institute into a meeting and concert room for the club, and in 1949 the room was opened as an arts centre, one of the first six in the country to be recognized by the Arts Council. (fn. 1341) A week of concerts and other entertainments organized by the club in 1977 led to the establishment in 1978 of the Leek Arts Festival. From 1990 it lasted for four weeks. (fn. 1342)
In 1803 there were eleven friendly societies in Leek, with a membership of 485. (fn. 1343) Most were probably associated with inns: one was established at the Swan in 1807, and several met at other inns in the town in 1830. (fn. 1344)
Societies which functioned as sick and burial clubs only and did not socialize in public houses included the Humane Society established in 1819 as a benefit society for men; it was reorganized in 1839 as the Leek Independent Male Humane Society. (fn. 1345) Others were Leek Wesleyan Sunday School Society (1839), (fn. 1346) Leek Benevolent Burial Society (1840), a society for members of the Congregational church (1840), societies for Anglican men (1842) and women (1846), and Leek and Moorlands Provident Association (1853). The Benevolent Burial Society was by far the largest, with 7,545 members in 1876. (fn. 1347) It became a general insurance society known since 1950 as Leek Assurance Collecting Society, and still existed in 1992 with an office in Russell Street. (fn. 1348) The only benefit society known to have been associated with a trade was the Leek Silk Twisters' Friendly Society, in existence by 1853. (fn. 1349)
Clubs associated with the national friendly societies combined welfare and socializing and met in different inns in the town. The earliest in Leek were the Victoria Court of Foresters and the Loyal Westwood Lodge of Oddfellows (Manchester Unity), both formed in 1837. Others included the Moss Rose Lodge of Free Gardeners (1840), the Pacific Court of Foresters (1841), the Rising Sun Lodge of Druids (1845), the Prince Albert Lodge of Oddfellows (1853), the Highfield Moss Rose Lodge of Free Gardeners (1857), the Moorlands Lodge of Oddfellows (1857), and the Royal Victoria Lodge of Oddfellows (1859). It was estimated in 1865 that the clubs had nearly 1,700 members, almost a fifth of the town's population. (fn. 1350) The three lodges of Oddfellows formed in the 1850s belonged to the Grand United Order and were amalgamated in 1901 under the name of the Moorlands Lodge. The lodge was closed in 1964. (fn. 1351) The Pride of the Moorlands Lodge of the Order of Sisters, formed in 1846, (fn. 1352) was affiliated to the Independent Order of Oddfellows (Manchester Unity) in 1912, and in 1974 it became part of the Unity's Loyal Westwood Lodge. In 1992 that lodge became an independent club called Leek Westwood Friendly Society. (fn. 1353)
In 1829 two friendly societies, one for men and the other for women, celebrated a feast day on the first Friday in August. The members walked through the town, attended a sermon in St. Edward's church, and then had separate dinners in the Swan and Red Lion inns. Friendly societies which paraded in 1830 carried banners which displayed their emblems and were accompanied by a band. In 1831 the societies paraded on the last Thursday in July, and the town's factories were closed for the day. Celebrations probably continued on the Friday, as they did in 1833. (fn. 1354) By 1846 the first Friday in August was the customary day for the parade, a date that was probably chosen to coincide with the Stoke wakes: the event attracted many people who came from the Potteries by canal boat. The lodges of the national friendly societies also took part in the parade by 1846. Known as Club Day by 1860, the occasion became more notable for an afternoon procession of Sunday school children, transferred in 1859 from its traditional date of the first Sunday in September. Only one friendly society paraded on Club Day in 1862, the others finding the cost too great, but in 1864 there was renewed participation. Some societies again paraded by 1882, but in later years their involvement seems to have become only occasional and was last recorded in 1901. (fn. 1355)
In 1992 Leek had two lodges of Freemasons, St. Edward's formed in 1863 and Dieu-la-cresse formed in 1920. In 1926 the Congregational manse in King Street was converted into a masonic hall, which was extended in 1933 and was still used in 1992. (fn. 1356)
Leek Total Abstinence (later Temperance) Society was formed in 1836 by Charles Carus Wilson. The society established a Rechabite tent in 1839. (fn. 1357) By 1856 it had a lecture room in Stockwell Street, (fn. 1358) and in 1864 it converted the former Congregational chapel in Union Street into a general purpose hall. (fn. 1359) The society supported the opening of a coffee house in the Haywood Street cattle market in 1878. (fn. 1360)
In 1817 a newsroom was established on the ground floor of the town hall in the market place. It remained there until 1871. (fn. 1361) There was a commercial newsroom in Stockwell Street in 1850. (fn. 1362) Newsrooms for working men were opened at Ball Haye Green in 1872, at no. 13 Market Place in 1873, and in the former soup kitchen in Stockwell Street in 1875. (fn. 1363)
POLITICAL AND SOCIAL CLUBS.
A Coservative Association was formed in 1872. In 1887 it moved to new premises on the site of the Church inn in Church Street, designed in a Tudor style by J. G. Smith. The club remained there until it was dissolved in 1947. The clubhouse was demolished in 1972. (fn. 1364)
A Liberal Club was opened at no. 8 Russell Street in 1880. In 1882 it moved next door into a building recently vacated by the town's improvement commissioners and remodelled for the club by W. Sugden & Son. Known as Leek Central Liberal Club in 1897, it moved in 1898 into a former silk factory in Market Street, redesigned by Larner Sugden. Active politically until 1921, the club continued to function in 1992 as a social club called Leek Central Club. (fn. 1365) In the later 1890s a Liberal Club for working men was opened in Mill Street. By 1898 it occupied the former police station in West Street, (fn. 1366) where it remained in 1992 as West Street Working Men's Club.
The opening of the Ball Haye Green newsroom in 1872 led to the establishment of a working men's institute by 1873. (fn. 1367) It is not known where the institute first met, but in 1926 a clubhouse designed by Wilfred Ingram was built in Ball Haye Green Road opposite Prince Street. It remained in use in 1992 as Ball Haye Green Working Men's Club. (fn. 1368)
Rules for a non-political and non-sectarian organization called the Union Club were drawn up on temperance principles probably in 1878; the club's meeting place was Union Buildings, opened that year in Market Street. The club presumably closed in 1884 when the premises were sold, if not earlier. (fn. 1369) Leek Progressive Club was established possibly in the 1880s, with the architect Larner Sugden as its secretary. The club, which met in Silk Street, was short-lived. (fn. 1370)
A troop of volunteer cavalry was raised in Leek in 1794 as part of the Staffordshire Regiment of Gentlemen and Yeomanry. It was supplemented by a troop of infantry, recorded in 1810 and probably first raised in 1804. The combined troop was disbanded in 1829 but was revived in 1842 following the Chartist disturbances earlier that year. Styled the Leek and Moorlands troop and later part of the Queen's Own Royal Yeomanry, it was disbanded in 1888. (fn. 1371)
A company of rifle volunteers was formed in 1859. (fn. 1372) By 1872 it had a drill room, known as the Armoury, in Ford Street, to which a reading room and gymnasium were added in 1877. (fn. 1373) By 1894 the volunteers used the upper storey of a converted building in the Haywood Street cattle market. (fn. 1374) Concern at the volunteers' lack of shooting skill led to the formation in 1872 of the Leek Volunteer Shooting Club, with butts on land south of Wall Grange Farm, in Longsdon. (fn. 1375)
Leek Operative Floral Society existed by 1848. (fn. 1376) Also a horticultural society by 1851, it was known in 1859 as Leek Original Floral and Horticultural Society. From 1849 its annual show was held at the Blue Ball inn in Mill Street, still the venue in 1901. (fn. 1377) Leek Horticultural Society existed in 1852 and was re-formed in 1854 as Leek Floral and Horticultural Society. (fn. 1378)
A rose society was established in 1872 and a British fern society in 1892, the latter promoted by John Robinson of Westwood Hall. By 1902 the two societies had been amalgamated as Leek Rose and Fern Society. (fn. 1379)
LEEK EMBROIDERY SOCIETY.
As part of a national movement to improve methods of embroidery Elizabeth Wardle, the wife of the Leek silk dyer Thomas Wardle, established the Leek Embroidery Society (also known later as the Leek School of Embroidery) in 1879 or 1880. Using naturally dyed silks or other materials from the Wardle factory, the society produced both designs and finished articles. Its founders did not conceive it as a commercial business, but demand was such that some of the profit was used to employ embroideresses. Items were sold in London, at first through a short-lived shop in Bond Street opened in 1883 by Thomas Wardle and W. S. Brough, and later through agencies. There was also a shop in St. Edward Street, in Leek, next to the Wardles' home. Elizabeth Wardle died in 1902, and the society's output rapidly declined. Products which made use of the society's designs continued to be sold in the Leek shop until it was closed in the 1930s. (fn. 1380)
CIVIC AND HISTORICAL SOCIETIES.
Leek and District Civic Society was formed in 1978. It monitors the architectural heritage and development of the town and an area covering the former townships in Leek ancient parish, together with Bagnall, Cheddleton, Consall, Horton, and Ipstones. (fn. 1381)
Leek and District Historical Society was formed in 1984, and since 1988 it has published a journal called Chronicles. Members of the society were involved in the establishment in 1989 of the Leek and Moorlands Historical Trust, one of whose aims is the opening of a heritage centre in the town. (fn. 1382)
In 1806 a public hall, commonly known as the town hall, was erected at the south end of the market place on the site of the market cross. Designed and built by Robert Emerson, a joiner, and John Radford, a stonemason, the building consisted of a basement with two lock-ups, a ground floor originally open for use by market people but converted in 1817 into a newsroom, and an upper room for meetings. The cost was met by subscribers, shareholders, and (for the lock-ups) the county quarter sessions. (fn. 1383) The building was too small to be of much use for public gatherings, and it was considered to be architecturally undistinguished. Nothing came of a plan in 1847 to replace it with a grander building on another site in the market place, and it survived until its demolition in 1872. (fn. 1384)
In 1857 the town's temperance society planned to build a public hall. It later bought the former Congregational chapel in Union Street, which it converted and opened as the Temperance Hall in 1864. (fn. 1385) The hall was enlarged in 1871 by the addition of an orchestra pit and changing rooms. (fn. 1386) In the earlier 1920s it was converted into a cinema. (fn. 1387)
Union Buildings in Market Street was built in 1878 'to supply rational recreation without the temptation of drink'. Designed by Alfred Waterhouse and others, it was principally a concert hall, but it also contained games rooms and a restaurant. The venture was evidently not a success, and in 1884 the building was bought by the improvement commissioners and converted into a town hall. (fn. 1388) It continued to be used, however, for concerts and plays, and its demolition in 1988 left the town without a suitable place for large-scale musical or theatrical performances. (fn. 1389)
LIBRARIES, MUSEUM, AND ART GALLERY.
A subscription library was formed in 1791. (fn. 1390) It was evidently refounded in 1828 as the Leek Book Society, with a membership restricted to 30. (fn. 1391) The society was probably the same as the subscription library run in 1834 by George Nall, a printer and bookseller in Sheepmarket. In 1843 Nall moved to Custard Street, where in 1850 he ran a subscription library and a public circulating library. (fn. 1392) What was called the Leek and Moorlands Subscription Library in 1864 was run by Nall's son Robert, who retired in 1865. The library was taken over by another Leek bookseller, James Rider, who ran it from his shop in Derby Street. It appears to have been closed by 1880. (fn. 1393)
The Nicholson Institute in Stockwell Street was presented to the town by Joshua Nicholson. Conceived c. 1875 as a monument to Richard Cobden, it was opened in 1884 and combined a free library, a museum, three picture galleries, and premises for Leek's school of art. The library contained c. 6,000 volumes chosen by J. O. Nicholson, eldest son of Joshua Nicholson, and was open to all adults living within 6 miles of Leek. From 1887 it was supported from the rates, the town's improvement commissioners having adopted the Public Libraries Act of 1855. Open access to the books had probably been introduced by 1933. The urban district council remained an independent library authority, the smallest in Staffordshire, until local government reorganization in 1974, when the library service was handed over to the county council. From 1974 to 1980 the county council also ran the museum and art gallery under an agency agreement with Staffordshire Moorlands district council, which took direct control in 1980. (fn. 1394) The museum exhibits and most of the paintings were put into store, where they remained in 1992.
The three-storeyed institute building, which stands back from the street and is partly masked by the 17th-century Greystones, is of brick with stone dressings and was designed in a Queen Anne style by W. Sugden & Son. It has a tower with a domed roof and lantern covered with copper; the base of the tower contains the main entrance, which is approached by a flight of stone steps. A large window in the façade incorporates a row of four stone portrait medallions carved by Stephen Webb. A three-storeyed extension was added in 1900 to house a high school and a silk school; it too was designed by Sugden & Son, with ornamental modelling and lettering by A. Broadbent. (fn. 1395)
The weekly Leek Times was founded in 1870 by M. H. Miller (d. 1909). The paper was politically neutral, although Miller was a Liberal. (fn. 1398) A Conservative weekly, the Leek Post, was founded in 1884. (fn. 1399) At first published by the North Staffordshire Newspaper Co. Ltd., the paper was acquired in the late 1890s by the Leek printing firm of Hill Brothers. (fn. 1400) In 1934 that firm took over the Leek Times, and the papers were amalgamated as the Leek Post & Times. (fn. 1401) That paper was still published by Hill Bros. (Leek) Ltd. in 1992.
The first known schoolmaster in the town was John Lumford, who was recorded in 1568. (fn. 1402) Thereafter there were at least one or two schoolmasters at any one time. (fn. 1403) A few may have offered grammar schooling: Lumford was a graduate and presumably competent to teach the classics, and a school held in the north aisle of the parish church in the late 16th and early 17th century apparently included boys aged 14 and 15. (fn. 1404) In 1697 the Staffordshire Quakers set up a boys' boarding school at Leek, which lasted c. 50 years. A charity English school was established in the town in 1713 but had ceased to function by the early 19th century. A grammar school was opened in 1720 but remained small and poor. (fn. 1405) Boys from the Leek area who were intended for the universities continued to be sent to school elsewhere as they had been in the 17th century. (fn. 1406)
Large-scale popular education in Leek came with the Sunday schools. In the earlier 19th century Leek was one of the small industrial towns where Sunday schools proved popular with the workers, and they provided most of the formal education in the town. (fn. 1407) John Jones was appointed master of an Anglican Sunday school in 1787. He left Leek in 1791, and nothing is known about the school. (fn. 1408) In 1797 a Methodist established a non-denominational Sunday school. The Anglicans co-operated in its work until 1813, when they set up their own Sunday school. The Congregationalists formed a Sunday school c. 1830, the Roman Catholics by 1834, the Primitive Methodists in or shortly after 1836, and the New Connexion Methodists evidently in 1857. (fn. 1409) At the time of the Anglican withdrawal the non-denominational school was controlled by the Wesleyan Methodists, who built a schoolhouse in West Street in 1815 and another in Ball Haye Street in 1828. In 1841 Leek's six Sunday schools had 1,607 pupils on the books and an attendance of c. 80 per cent; there were 168 teachers. (fn. 1410) The Wesleyans had the most pupils: in the late 1820s there were over 1,000 on the roll at their two schools, and in the 1830s and 1840s almost 1,000. (fn. 1411) On the morning of Census Sunday 1851 a total of 1,049 Sunday school children attended the town's churches and chapels (523 Wesleyan Methodists, 336 Anglicans, 90 Congregationalists, 51 Primitive Methodists, and 49 Roman Catholics). In the afternoon 791 children attended; again the Wesleyan Methodists (404) and the Anglicans (278) predominated. (fn. 1412) From the 1840s day schools were established in the town to supplement or replace the system of secular instruction offered at the Sunday schools. Reading and writing were still taught at West Street Sunday school in the 1850s, and reading at a Wesleyan Sunday school in Mill Street in 1866–7. (fn. 1413) The important part which Sunday schools had played in the religious, educational, and social life of the town was still marked in the early 1990s by the children's annual procession. (fn. 1414)
Rivalry between denominations and the generosity of a number of wealthy benefactors ensured that enough voluntary day schools were built in the town to make the formation of a school board for Leek unnecessary. There was a particularly vigorous period of building in the late 1860s, after the passage of the 1867 Workshops Regulation Act. A survey of 1861 had revealed that a large number of young children were employed in the Leek silk industry, many of them working at home or in other places not subject to factory inspection. After the Act the Leek improvement commissioners set about ensuring that all working children received some schooling. (fn. 1415) In 1871, out of 2,072 children aged 5–13 living in the area covered by the Leek Improvement Act of 1855, 1,275 were at school full-time, 401 worked in factories or workshops and attended school half-time, 102 worked fulltime in trades where there was still no legal obligation to ensure that child workers received some schooling, and 50 were 'street arabs'. Of those aged 11–13 there were 244 legally employed full-time in factories or in silk winding or throwing. (fn. 1416) In 1882 the town's 12 public day schools had an average attendance of 2,043: 960 attended Anglican schools, 615 Wesleyan, 363 Congregationalist, and 105 Roman Catholic. (fn. 1417)
From 1876 the improvement commissioners were represented on the school-attendance committee of Leek poor-law union, and between 1894 and 1902 the urban district council had its own school-attendance committee. (fn. 1418) Teachers attributed some absenteeism to the fact that Leek had a large female labour-force: because mothers were at work all day in the mills children, especially girls, were kept at home to look after brothers and sisters and to run errands. (fn. 1419)
Even before the county council became the local education authority in 1903 it supported further education in Leek and had made grants to a girls' high school in the town. In 1906 it took over a mixed high school, and Leek's first council school was built in 1914. For 20 years its work at Leek was hampered by the persistence of the half-time system. The number of children attending school half-time had greatly increased after 1867. Leek teachers complained from the 1870s about half-time attendance and about the pressure put on children by parents and employers to leave school for the mills. (fn. 1420) In 1908 there still some 250 half-timers, but a suggestion that two schools should be set aside for their exclusive use came to nothing. (fn. 1421) In 1913 Leek was the only place in the administrative county where children attended half-time, (fn. 1422) and there were still half-timers in Leek schools until such attendance was brought to an end nationally in 1922. (fn. 1423)
Leek was omitted from the county council's plans of 1919 for reorganizing elementary schools apparently because 'the denominational difficulty would be great'. (fn. 1424) In 1931 the eight elementary schools in the town were reorganized as junior and senior schools. (fn. 1425) When over the next few years the schools in neighbouring villages became junior schools, older children were brought into Leek by bus. With the closure of small country schools after the Second World War, many younger children were also brought into Leek, and harsh Moorland winters caused problems with transport. (fn. 1426) Comprehensive secondary education was introduced in 1965. In 1981 Leek was one of the areas in which the county council adopted a three-tier system of schools, involving first schools for children under the age of 9, middle schools for children aged 9–13, and high schools for children aged 13–18. The system was still in force there in 1994. (fn. 1427)
PRIMARY AND SECONDARY SCHOOLS.
In 1713 Rebecca, wife of Sir Samuel Moyer, Bt., established an English school at Leek, the birthplace of her father John Jolliffe. The school was for 50 poor children of Leek and Cheddleton, who were to be given three years' tuition. A master was appointed, whom she instructed to pay strict attention to his pupils' morals and to ensure that they attended church every Sunday and holy day. She paid him £20 a year and undertook to provide new books every three years and to buy bibles as leaving presents for the children. (fn. 1428)
In 1717 Lady Moyer gave in trust for the school a 90-year annuity of £25 and amplified her plan for the school. The master, who was to be a layman, was to receive £20 a year for teaching the 50 children to read and write. He and the children were to be chosen by a board of governors including the vicar and churchwardens. The children were to be admitted at the age of six and to remain at the school until they could read and write. The vicar was to be paid £1 a year for catechizing them, and £4 a year was to be spent on bibles, primers, and catechisms. Lady Moyer's will, proved 1724, confirmed the provisions and asked that the annuity should be used to buy land to endow the school, a request that was not carried out. (fn. 1429) In 1751 the master was teaching 50 children the catechism and taking them regularly to church. (fn. 1430) The school seems to have ceased by 1807, when the annuity expired, and it may have been wound up by 1786. (fn. 1431)
Leek Grammar School.
In May 1720 a group of 22 townsmen, aware of the need for a grammar school, successfully petitioned the bishop to license as a grammar-school master Thomas Bourne, who had settled in Leek the previous January. (fn. 1432) Lord Macclesfield built a house on Clerk Bank for the school in 1723. (fn. 1433) In 1733 the London Magazine published a poem by 'H. C.', lauding Bourne's skill as a teacher of the classics. (fn. 1434) He had some 40 pupils in 1751 (fn. 1435) and died in 1771. (fn. 1436)
The school had no endowment. The earls of Macclesfield appointed Bourne's successors, presumably in return for having built the schoolhouse, and remained the owners of the building, the master paying a peppercorn rent and being responsible for the upkeep. (fn. 1437) For many years his only income apart from fees came from the charity of George Roades (d. 1713), rector of Blithfield and son of a vicar of Leek, whose will provided for the establishment of an English school at Leek for poor children aged 6–10. Eventually enough money was received to buy £323 stock, the income from which was used to pay the master of the grammar school to teach poor children to read. By the early 19th century six children at a time were taught free. (fn. 1438)
By then any attempt to maintain a purely classical syllabus had probably long been abandoned. In 1825 the school offered 'classical, mathematical, and commercial instruction'. (fn. 1439) The school could generally support both a master and an usher only if one or both had other employment. Jeremiah Barnes, appointed master in 1832, employed as usher the organist at St. Edward's, where Barnes was assistant curate. (fn. 1440) E. F. T. Ribbans, master in the 1850s, was also curate at St. Edward's and chaplain of the workhouse. (fn. 1441) He left Leek in 1860 after well publicized accusations that he had fathered an illegitimate child. (fn. 1442) His successor, P. N. Lawrence, was also workhouse chaplain and perpetual curate at St. Luke's. (fn. 1443)
In 1865 Lawrence had 24 boys; 4 were boarders, and 6 or 7 of the others came from outside Leek. He taught six poor boys free in return for the income (£9 13s. 10d.) from Roades's bequest, but the arrangement was to end when Lawrence left. Himself a good teacher, he could not afford an assistant and dealt with boys of all ages, abilities, and requirements. The schoolhouse was in poor repair and no longer suitable. There was little demand in Leek for a traditional grammar-school education; parents who wanted one sent their sons elsewhere. Nevertheless the inspector for the royal commission on grammar schools recommended that the school should continue as a feeder for a high school in some other town. (fn. 1444)
Lawrence was succeeded in 1870 by Joseph Sykes, master of the private Leek Commercial School. (fn. 1445) Shortly afterwards the income from the Roades charity was assigned to one of the town's National schools. (fn. 1446) Joseph, and later John, Sykes ran the school for the next 30 years. (fn. 1447) A department for girls and small boys was opened in or shortly before 1878 under Miss M. L. Sykes. (fn. 1448) It was presumably the girls' grammar school which was being run in conjunction with the grammar school in 1889. (fn. 1449) The grammar school had c. 65 pupils in the early 1890s and c. 45 in the later 1890s, (fn. 1450) and it was closed in 1900. (fn. 1451) In 1919 the earl of Macclesfield sold the building, (fn. 1452) which in the early 1990s was used by various voluntary organizations.
West Street Wesleyan School, later Mount Methodist (Controlled) First School.
In 1797 Charles Ball, a Leek Methodist, began to hold a Sunday school in his house. Numbers soon became too great for the house: in 1800 there were 200 pupils and in 1801 c. 300, of whom 22 were being taught to write. The school moved successively to Mount Pleasant Methodist chapel, the grammar school, and the assembly room at the Swan inn. In 1815 the Wesleyans opened a schoolroom in West Street. (fn. 1453) By 1817 the school, advertised as non-denominational, had 536 pupils, including 19 adults; there continued to be a few adult pupils until 1824. In 1826 over 900 children attended, and in the 1830s and 1840s, after another Wesleyan Methodist Sunday school had been opened in Ball Haye Street, there were still over 400 at West Street. (fn. 1454) The school was rebuilt on a larger scale in 1854, and in 1855 a mixed day school was opened in the building. Reading and writing continued to be taught at the Sunday school until 1856. (fn. 1455)
In 1855 the day school had 40 pupils, who paid 3d. or 4d. a week; the 4d. pupils were taught grammar besides reading, writing, and arithmetic. The school received a government grant. (fn. 1456) The building was extended in 1881, and in 1885 West Street was a mixed and infants' school of 458 children. (fn. 1457) In 1897–8 the building was remodelled and improved at government insistence. (fn. 1458) In 1930 there were 440 on the books. West Street became a junior school in 1931. Although numbers were reduced, the building was inadequate, and in 1938 the managers proposed closure because they could not afford the improvements required. The outbreak of the Second World War foiled plans for alternative accommodation. (fn. 1459) The school took controlled status in 1949 and shortly afterwards was renamed Mount Methodist school. (fn. 1460) There were c. 300 on the books in the later 1950s and the later 1960s. Thereafter the school generally had c. 200 pupils until 1981, when it became a first school and numbers dropped to c. 100. It was closed in 1983. (fn. 1461)
St. Edward's National Schools, Clerk Bank.
An Anglican Sunday school on the Madras system was established in 1813, and c. 100 children joined it from the non-denominational Sunday school. It was held in the grammar school and was supported by subscriptions and by collections at St. Edward's church. In 1834 Lord Macclesfield gave part of the grammar school's playground as a site, money was raised by subscription and grants from government and the National Society, and a two-storeyed brick building with stone dressings and some Gothick fenestration was erected to the design of William Rawlins. The trustees were authorized to admit poor children from Leek or any other place within 2 miles of Leek parish. (fn. 1462) The new Sunday school was opened in 1835 with a salaried master and mistress, 34 monitors, and 265 children (141 girls and 124 boys). The unusual predominance of girls over boys may have arisen because the mistress as well as the master was allowed to teach writing. (fn. 1463) A lending library for teachers, pupils, and parents was set up in 1836. (fn. 1464) In 1837 there were 244 boys and 243 girls on the roll. (fn. 1465)
In 1843 the trustees opened day schools for boys and girls in the building to supplement the Sunday school. The Chartist disturbances of 1842, in which the master and mistress of the Sunday school were marginally involved, seem to have strengthened the feeling that Anglican day schools for working-class children were needed in the town. A salaried master and mistress taught both the day and the Sunday schools. (fn. 1466) The curriculum was to include reading, writing, and arithmetic, with some natural history and geography for certain children and knitting and sewing for girls; fees were to be 1d.–3d. a week. (fn. 1467) The day schools united with the National Society in 1844. (fn. 1468) In 1846, with grants from the society and government, the trustees bought three cottages and land adjoining the schoolhouse, the cottages for teachers' houses and part of the land for a playground. (fn. 1469)
In 1847 the Sunday school ceased to teach writing; instead the master and two helpers gave writing lessons free on Friday evenings. (fn. 1470) Numbers at the Sunday school then declined, partly, it was later suggested, because writing was no longer taught. In 1847 there was an average attendance of 343; in 1851 it was 257. Meanwhile the day schools grew slightly: average attendance was 126 in 1847 and 141 in 1851. (fn. 1471) It is not clear when secular education at the Sunday school ended; the number of pupils was still falling in 1854. (fn. 1472)
In 1853 the boys' and girls' day schools were merged and an infants' school was established in what had been the boys' schoolroom, beginning with 67 children. (fn. 1473) A night school was started in 1860 and still existed in 1864. (fn. 1474) The building was enlarged in 1862, and in 1863 separate boys' and girls' schools were again formed. (fn. 1475) In 1886 the boys were moved to a new school in Britannia Street. (fn. 1476) The Clerk Bank building was left to the girls and infants, and average attendance there over the next few years was c. 170. (fn. 1477) It was closed in 1894–5, and the children were moved to Britannia Street. (fn. 1478) The schoolhouse, the land, and the cottages were sold in 1895, and the Clerk Bank school building became the Maude Church Institute. (fn. 1479)
Wesleyan School, Ball Haye Street.
A Wesleyan Methodist Sunday school was opened in Ball Haye Street in 1828. (fn. 1480) In 1840 the Wesleyans set up a day school in a room in Ball Haye Street, presumably the Sunday school. They employed a master, trained in the Lancasterian method, and a mistress. Early in 1841 there was an average attendance of 54. The children paid 6d. a week for reading, writing, and arithmetic, and 9d. a week if they were also taught grammar, history, and geography. Girls were offered free instruction in needlework, knitting, and marking clothes. The children's parents were millworkers and tradespeople. The master stated that they paid fairly regularly, although the fees were higher than in most schools. (fn. 1481)
The project was probably too ambitious and expensive. The day school had apparently been closed by 1845, when an infants' school was opened in the building. In 1859 it had an average attendance of 90. An evening school run by the organizers of the infants' school was then being held three nights a week. From 1860 the infants' school received a government grant. (fn. 1482) The building was improved in 1865, when six new classrooms were built and the schoolroom was heightened. (fn. 1483)
In 1872 a mixed day school with a government grant was opened on the upper floor of the building. (fn. 1484) In 1878 both the mixed and the infants' schools were threatened with loss of their government grants unless the building was improved. Considerable alterations were duly made. (fn. 1485) Further accommodation was provided in 1899. (fn. 1486) Average attendance in 1901 was 200 in the mixed school and 83 in the infants' school. (fn. 1487) Renewed government pressure for improvements to the building led to the closure of the schools in 1913. (fn. 1488)
St. Mary's Roman Catholic (Aided) PriMary School, Cruso Street.
By 1834 there was a Sunday school connected with St. Mary's Roman Catholic chapel in Fountain Street. It had 40 pupils by 1841. (fn. 1489) In 1845 a schoolhouse was built behind the chapel for a day school. It had separate rooms for boys and girls, but the children were taught together since there was scarcely enough money to pay even one teacher. The Roman Catholic priest commented: 'No books. No maps. No desks.' (fn. 1490)
In 1860 a group of Irish nuns belonging to the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary took over St. Mary's school and its 50 pupils from the girl who had been running it. They also started an evening school and opened a private school with 17 children. When a church was opened in King Street in 1864 and the Fountain Street building was sold, the day and private schools were taught in various parts of the new church. A schoolhouse with rooms for boys, girls, and infants was built behind the church in 1871. From 1877 the school received a government grant. There was then an average attendance of 106, and the staff consisted of two nuns and three assistants. (fn. 1491)
In 1930 St. Mary's was a mixed and infants' school with 194 on its books. It became a junior school in 1931. (fn. 1492) It moved in 1937 to new buildings in Cruso Street, named the Monsignor A. M. Sperling Memorial School after the priest who had served at Leek from 1884 to 1923. (fn. 1493) In 1957 a separate infants' school was opened in Whitfield Street. The nuns continued to teach at both schools until they left Leek in 1980. (fn. 1494)
From 1839 until 1903 the Leek poor-law guardians maintained a school at the union workhouse for the children there. They employed a master and a mistress until 1854 and again from 1863 to 1868, but otherwise only a mistress. There were attempts at vocational training. In the 1840s boys were taught knitting and straw plaiting. In the late 1840s and early 1850s land was rented near the workhouse and the children were taught spade cultivation. (fn. 1495)
Congregationalist School, Union Street.
In 1845 the Congregationalists of Union Street chapel built a two-storeyed Sunday school next to the chapel. In 1846 they opened a day school for infants there, which they claimed to be the first in Leek. They obtained a mistress from the Infant School Society. After a year average attendance was c. 50, aged 2–6. The children paid pence, but the school was financed chiefly by donations and subscriptions. In 1873 it became a girls' and infants' school and began to receive a government grant. (fn. 1496) In 1884 the girls at the Congregationalists' mixed school in Alsop Street were transferred to Union Street. (fn. 1497) In the late 1880s and the late 1890s there was an average attendance of c. 140, which had dropped to c. 100 by c. 1910. (fn. 1498) In 1908 the Board of Education considered that the building was no longer adequate, (fn. 1499) and the school was closed in 1913. (fn. 1500)
Ball Haye Green Wesleyan school.
A chapel used also as a Sunday school was opened by the Wesleyan Methodists at Ball Haye Green in 1846. (fn. 1501) A day school was established in the building in 1870. In 1871, when there were c. 30 pupils, a certificated mistress was appointed and the managers applied for a government grant. Later that year or in 1872 the mistress, and apparently the pupils, were transferred to Brunswick Wesleyan school in Ball Haye Street. (fn. 1502)
St. Luke's National Schools, later St. Luke's C.E. (Aided) Primary School, Fountain and Queen Streets. Day and Sunday schools for St. Luke's district were built in Fountain Street in 1847. Services were held in the building until the opening of St. Luke's church in 1848. (fn. 1503) The promoters intended that the day school, initially for infants only, should admit older children if there were sufficient demand. (fn. 1504) The school was financed by subscriptions, donations, and children's pence. Within a short time the mistress was probably teaching older girls as well as infants. From 1849 to 1852 the managers allowed a master to run his own school, presumably for boys, in a room in the building. (fn. 1505) In 1851 the two schools had an average attendance of c. 150. (fn. 1506)
In 1852 the managers gave the master notice to quit, and in 1853 they opened their own boys' school in the room which he had vacated. The schools then began to receive a government grant. (fn. 1507) The new master, Joseph Sykes, enrolled some middle-class boys, who were charged higher fees and for additional payment were taught subjects such as Latin and algebra. Sykes took boarders, at one point jeopardizing the school's grant by not following government regulations. (fn. 1508) In 1858 he engaged the school's first pupil teacher, William Beresford, later vicar of St. Luke's. (fn. 1509) Sykes successfully demanded pay rises in 1854 and 1856. (fn. 1510) In 1860 he resigned to open his own school. (fn. 1511)
An evening school was being held at Fountain Street in 1861. (fn. 1512) In 1863–4 the day schools had an average attendance of c. 200. (fn. 1513) By the late 1860s the building was overcrowded and the schools were threatened with the loss of their government grant. (fn. 1514) In 1872 a new boys' school designed by William Sugden was completed, with entrances in Queen Street and Earl Street. (fn. 1515) The girls and infants, c. 150 in number, remained in the Fountain Street building. A separate infants' school was formed in 1873. (fn. 1516) In 1894, after the boys' building had been remodelled, the girls' and boys' schools were merged there; the infants were left in Fountain Street. (fn. 1517) In the early years of the 20th century the mixed school had over 300 children on its books and the infants' school over 200. (fn. 1518)
In 1931 the mixed school became a junior school, with 256 on its books. Thereafter numbers dwindled in both the junior and the infants' schools. In 1943 the two were merged to form a junior and infants' school with 130 Leek children and 12 evacuees on its books. Numbers recovered in the 1950s, but from the early 1960s there were never more than 100 on the books. The school was closed in 1981. (fn. 1519)
All Saints' C.E. (Aided) First School, Cheadle Road, formerly Compton school.
In 1863 a school-church was opened in Compton from St. Luke's, and the building continued to be used for worship until the opening of All Saints' church in 1887. The school was initially an infants' school and received a government grant as such, but by the early 1870s it was also taking older children. The building was extended in 1872, 1883, and 1891. There were over 400 pupils in the early 1900s. The building became overcrowded, and the managers were forced to cut numbers. In 1930 there were 361 on the roll. Compton became a junior mixed and infants' school in 1931. By the early 1960s there were fewer than 150 pupils. The managers were finding it increasingly difficult to maintain the building to the required standard, and parents were sending their children elsewhere. In 1965 the school moved into new buildings further south in Cheadle Road. It became a first school in 1981. A nursery class was opened in 1994. (fn. 1520)
Ragged School, later Mill Street Wesleyan School.
In 1865 a ragged school was opened in a cottage in Belle Vue Road. Demand for places was great, and six weeks later the school was moved to two adjoining houses in Mill Street. (fn. 1521) In 1866–7, when it was held on Sundays and for two hours every weekday evening, there were 120 on the books. On Sundays reading was taught by 20 unpaid teachers, and there was an average attendance of 80. At the night school a master and mistress, each paid £6 a year, taught writing and arithmetic, and the mistress also taught girls to sew. (fn. 1522)
In 1869 the Leek Wesleyan Methodist quarterly meeting agreed to take charge of the school, following a request from the school's committee of management. (fn. 1523) The school was moved into a newly built Wesleyan Methodist school-chapel in Mill Street in 1871, and in 1873 it became a public elementary day school known as Mill Street Wesleyan school. (fn. 1524) It became an infants' school in or shortly before 1885. In 1909–10 it had an average attendance of 51. (fn. 1525) It was closed in 1913, but the building continued in use as a chapel until 1990. (fn. 1526)
St. Luke's C.E. School, Pump St., Ball Haye Green.
From 1868 F. A. Argles of Haregate and his wife helped to maintain a day school run by an uncertificated teacher in a rented room at Ball Haye Green. In 1871 they built and settled in trust a mixed and infants' day school in Pump Street. The new building was soon used as a mission church also. The site included two cottages in Prince Street, which were assigned by Argles as residences for a teacher and a caretaker. (fn. 1527) From 1871 the school had a certificated mistress. It soon had an average attendance of 51, and later in the year it began to receive a government grant. (fn. 1528) During the winters of 1872–3 and 1873–4 the mistress ran a night school. (fn. 1529) The building was extended in 1877–8 at Argles's expense. (fn. 1530) Average attendance had risen to 125 by the late 1880s. (fn. 1531) In 1930 the school was a mixed and infants' school with 142 on its books, and it was agreed that it should become a junior school in the general reorganization of Leek schools. (fn. 1532) By 1940 it was an infants' school, and so remained until 1945 when it was closed. The staff and pupils were transferred to Beresford Memorial school, Novi Lane. (fn. 1533) The building continued in use as a mission church. (fn. 1534)
St. John's C.E. School, Mill Street.
A school established in 1868 as a branch of St. Edward's schools became the school-church of St. John in Mill Street, opened in 1875. In 1876 it was made independent of St. Edward's schools and began to receive a government grant. The average attendance was then 66. The building was enlarged in 1881, and in 1882 a separate infants' department was established. In 1930 St. John's was a mixed and infants' school with 202 on the roll. It became a junior school in 1931 and was closed in 1938. The building continued in use as a church. (fn. 1535)
British School For Boys, Union Street.
In September 1868 a British school for boys was opened in two rooms in a rented building in Union Street. By December the master had c. 36 pupils, who paid from 2d. to 6d. a week, and from 1869 the school received a government grant. (fn. 1536) Successive masters also ran a night school from 1869 to 1872, when it was abandoned for lack of support. (fn. 1537) In 1871 average attendance at the day school was over 60, and a pupil teacher was appointed. By 1879 attendance sometimes exceeded 150, and an assistant master was engaged. In 1880 he started a night school. The day school was overcrowded, and in 1880 another room in the building was added. (fn. 1538)
From the beginning the school's closest links had been with the Congregationalists, (fn. 1539) and by the early 1880s they had taken over its management, running it in conjunction with their school in Alsop Street and the Congregationalist school in Union Street. (fn. 1540) In 1882 they transferred the boys at the mixed school in Alsop Street to the British school, but in 1883 they closed it and moved the pupils to Alsop Street. (fn. 1541)
Hargreaves school, later British school, Alsop Street.
In 1875 the Congregationalists opened a mixed and infants' school with 24 pupils in a building erected in Alsop Street in 1873–4 and perhaps named in honour of George Hargreaves, for many years a trustee of the Congregational chapel. (fn. 1542) By 1880 the average attendance was 100. (fn. 1543) In 1882 the boys in the mixed school were transferred to the British school in Union Street. (fn. 1544) In 1884 the girls were transferred to the Congregationalist school in Union Street and the boys at the British school were moved to Alsop Street. (fn. 1545) Thereafter the school, known first as the British school and from the beginning of the 20th century simply as Alsop Street school, (fn. 1546) remained a boys' and infants' school. There were 100 on the roll in 1912 and 47 in 1920–1. The school was closed in 1921. (fn. 1547)
Leek parish church schools, Britannia Street.
A National school for boys, designed by J. G. Smith, was opened in Britannia Street in 1886. (fn. 1548) The boys at St. Edward's National schools, Clerk Bank, were transferred there, with the girls and infants following in 1894–5. (fn. 1549) Britannia Street then became a mixed school with an infants' class; a separate infants' department was re-established in 1909. (fn. 1550) In 1930 the school had 454 on the roll. It became a senior mixed school in 1931. (fn. 1551) Alterations in 1932 provided additional classrooms. In 1939 a new building, Milward Hall, was added in Salisbury Street adjoining the school. It comprised housecraft and handicraft rooms and an assembly hall which was also used as a gymnasium. The school became an aided secondary modern school under the 1944 Act. In 1950 there were 290 on the roll. A government inspector that year remarked unfavourably on the school's cramped town-centre site and considered the buildings inadequate. The school was closed in 1965. The pupils were transferred to a secondary school built by the governors in Westwood Park Road and opened that year as part of the new comprehensive Westwood high school. (fn. 1552) The Britannia Street building and Milward Hall were sold. (fn. 1553)
Leek high school for girls, later Leek Church high school for girls.
The town's first secondary school for girls was a private school on Overton Bank run by Edith Milner in the later 1880s. When she decided to close it, a committee of Anglicans and nonconformists was set up to continue it as a non-sectarian high school. The new school, opened c. 1889, was evidently in Queen Street by 1892, and by 1896 it had moved to Russell Street. (fn. 1554) In 1897 the county council made a grant for science teaching and appoined two representative governors. (fn. 1555) The school was closed in 1900 when a mixed high school was opened at the Nicholson Institute. A group of Anglicans immediately opened Leek Church high school for girls in the Maude Institute, Clerk Bank, employing the staff of the defunct school. The Church high school began with 25 girls and had 45 by the end of the school year. (fn. 1556) It became a maintained county high school for girls in 1919, when there were 66 pupils. It was closed in 1921. (fn. 1557)
Leek county high school, Springfield Road.
In 1900 the urban district council opened a mixed high school in the Nicholson Institute. From 1901 the school used the adjoining Carr gymnasium for extra teaching space as well as for physical training. Although the school was intended mainly for older pupils, with an emphasis on science teaching, it also had preparatory and kindergarten departments. By summer 1902 there were 149 pupils. The school received county council and government grants, but for some years most of the running costs were paid by a few private benefactors. In 1905 the curriculum was widened in an attempt to attract more pupils. Instead numbers fell, and the managers decided to close the school. The county council persuaded them to keep it open, and in 1906 it became a county high school. The number of pupils began to increase, and additional accommodation was added in 1914 and 1920. (fn. 1558)
In 1921 all the girls except those in the preparatory department were moved to the new girls' high school at Westwood Hall, with the Nicholson Institute housing a boys' high school and a mixed preparatory department. (fn. 1559) By the later 1930s the premises were overcrowded, and in 1938–9 ninety of the boys had to be taught elsewhere in the town. In 1939 the boys' school was moved to a still unfinished building in Westwood Road. The preparatory department was divided. Boys under 8 and girls remained at the Nicholson Institute and became the responsibility of Westwood Hall girls' high school; the older boys went to Westwood Road. The building was completed in 1940. The part of the Nicholson Institute vacated by the high school was used from 1940 to 1943 by the boys of Parmiter's school, evacuated from the East End of London. Under the 1944 Act the high school became a grammar school. In 1948 it had 351 pupils. (fn. 1560) Its preparatory department was closed in 1950. (fn. 1561)
In 1965 the school was merged with two secondary modern schools in Springfield Road, Milner and Mountside, to form a mixed comprehensive secondary school on two sites. The Westwood Road building became the new school's Warrington Hall, named after T. C. Warrington, headmaster of the high school 1900–34. (fn. 1562) When three-tier schooling was introduced in 1981, the number of children on the school's roll was reduced to 1,000, and the school was concentrated at Springfield Road, where the buildings were extended. The Westwood Road buildings became St. Edward's middle school. (fn. 1563)
Leek County First School, East Street, formerly Leek council schools.
Council schools were opened in East Street in 1914 with accommodation for 100 infants and 354 older children. Two silk manufacturers, John Hall and Sir Arthur Nicholson, paid half the cost of building the infants' school. (fn. 1564) The buildings were extended in 1927. (fn. 1565) The mixed school became a senior school in 1931, with 334 on the roll, and in 1937 it moved to new buildings in Springfield Road. (fn. 1566)
The infants' school, which then had 150 children divided among three infant classes and a junior class, expanded into the vacated premises and became a full primary school. By 1943 there were 325 on the roll. (fn. 1567) East Street became the town's largest primary school: there were over 400 on the roll in the later 1940s, and in 1954, as numbers continued to grow, St. Luke's church hall was hired to provide extra accommodation. In the later 1950s there were over 500 on the roll. Extensions, including an assembly hall, were added in 1966–7, and in 1969 the annexe at St. Luke's hall was closed. The school had been badly overcrowded in the earlier 1960s, but from 1969 the opening of new schools elsewhere in the town caused a steady reduction in numbers. By the later 1980s there were c. 200 on the roll. (fn. 1568) East Street became a first school in 1981.
Westwood Hall County High School For Girls.
The county council bought Westwood Hall with 14 a. in 1920 and opened it as a girls' high school in 1921. It took the older girls from the mixed Leek county high school at the Nicholson Institute and the older pupils from the Church high school for girls at the Maude Institute. (fn. 1569) In 1939 it became responsible for the children at Leek high school's preparatory department at the Nicholson Institute; the department was closed in 1950. (fn. 1570) In 1965 Westwood Hall high school was merged with the newly built St. Edward's C.E. (aided) secondary school in Westwood Park Avenue to form the mixed comprehensive Westwood county high school. (fn. 1571)
Beresford Memorial C.E. (Aided) First School, Novi Lane, also known as St. Paul's school, was opened in 1935 as a junior mixed school with 101 on the roll. During the Second World War its numbers declined, and in 1946 the staff and pupils of St. Luke's infants' school at Ball Haye Green were transferred to Novi Lane to create a junior mixed and infants' school with 128 on the roll. (fn. 1572) It became a first school in 1981.
Leek County Senior School, Springfield Road, later Milner County Secondary Modern School For Girls and Mountside County Secondary Modern School for Boys. A mixed senior school was opened in Springfield Road in 1937 with 483 on the roll. (fn. 1573) In 1940 it was divided into Leek county senior school (boys) and Leek county senior school (girls). (fn. 1574) They became secondary modern schools under the 1944 Act. The girls' school was renamed Milner school in 1955 after R. S. Milner, the founder of a local educational charity. (fn. 1575) In 1959, when there were 476 on the roll, its building was extended. (fn. 1576) The boys' school was renamed Mountside school in the late 1950s. (fn. 1577) In 1965 the schools became the Milner Hall and the Mountside Hall of the mixed comprehensive Leek high school. (fn. 1578)
Westwood County First School, Westwood Road, was opened in 1938 as Westwood Road junior mixed and infants' council school. From 1954 'Road' was gradually dropped from its title. (fn. 1579) It became a first school in 1981.
St. Edward's C.E. (aided) Middle School, Westwood Road.
The completion in 1965 of a new St. Edward's C.E. (aided) secondary school in Westwood Park Avenue to replace the parish church schools in Britannia Street coincided with the introduction of comprehensive secondary education in Leek. The planned school was merged with the nearby Westwood Hall high school, and its building was opened as the St. Edward's Hall of the comprehensive Westwood county high school. There was a common timetable and interchange of staff. The new building, however, was not handed over to the local authority, and St. Edward's remained a separate legal entity with its own board of governors.
The unusual status of a voluntary aided school which was also part of a maintained school continued until the further reorganization of Leek schools in 1981. The St. Edward's Hall building was then handed over to the county council for use by Westwood high school. The governors of St. Edward's Hall received in exchange Leek high school's Warrington Hall building, which was reopened that year as St. Edward's C.E. (aided) middle school. In 1990 there were 700 on the roll. A new wing was officially opened in 1992. (fn. 1580)
Westwood County High School, Westwood Park, was opened in 1965 as a mixed comprehensive high school on two sites, formed by the merger of Westwood Hall high school and St. Edward's secondary school. (fn. 1581) A performing arts studio was opened in 1984 in what had once been Westwood Hall's banqueting room. (fn. 1582) In 1981 Westwood Hall became the school's Old Hall and the former St. Edward's building its New Hall. (fn. 1583)
Haregate County Primary School, Churnet View, was opened in 1969 and extended in 1974. It was closed in 1981, and its building was taken over by the new Churnet View middle school. (fn. 1584)
Woodcroft County First School, Wallbridge Drive, was opened as a primary school in 1969, initially taking infants only. The building was extended in 1972. (fn. 1585) Woodcroft became a first school in 1981.
Churnet view County Middle School was opened in 1981 in the former Haregate county primary school, the building being modified and extended that year. (fn. 1586)
In 1697, following a decision by the Society of Friends that there should be a Quaker schoolmaster in each county, the Staffordshire quarterly meeting decided to establish a school at Leek, with a master paid £15 a year. In 1700 the quarterly meeting allowed the master, Joseph Davison, to admit the sons of non-Quakers; their fees were to be used, with a grant from the quarterly meeting, to set up a fund to provide scholarships for the sons of poor Quakers. (fn. 1587) Davison was imprisoned in 1700 and 1701 for teaching without a licence, (fn. 1588) but the school survived. In 1711 the Leek monthly meeting was told that he was willing to be left 'to his liberty for some consideration, yet willing upon our request to serve us', and his salary was increased by £3 a year. (fn. 1589) The school was described in 1732 as a grammar school where boys were boarded and were taught writing and accounts. (fn. 1590) Davison died a prosperous man in 1747, (fn. 1591) but the school apparently died with him.
Later private schools seem to have catered primarily for the children of townspeople and to have lacked wider appeal. They tended to be small and short-lived. Few were as short-lived as the girls' school opened c. 1719 by Margaret Brindley, later Margaret Lucas, and closed a year or two later amid family quarrels when she became a Quaker. (fn. 1592) William Clowes, a Leek schoolmaster in 1758, (fn. 1593) was renting part of Barnfield Farm in 1765 and using it as a schoolhouse. (fn. 1594) He died in 1774; the schoolmaster of the same name who was buried at Leek in 1779 was perhaps his son. (fn. 1595) John Jones, later Leek's pioneer Swedenborgian, kept a school from 1788 to 1791 with little success. (fn. 1596) A Miss M. Nickson advertised her school in Spout Street in 1794, and a Miss Fynney kept a boarding school for girls in the later 1790s. (fn. 1597) By 1813 Robert Hobson had opened a day and boarding school for boys, perhaps on Clerk Bank, where he was living in 1818. He or another member of the family was still there in the late 1820s, but the school had closed or moved from Leek by 1834. (fn. 1598) Cornelius Brumby, who had been usher at the grammar school, opened his own school in 1826. (fn. 1599) He still kept a school in 1841 (fn. 1600) and published locally his own system of shorthand. (fn. 1601)
From the 1830s to the 1860s there were usually about half a dozen private schools in the town; thereafter the number dwindled. They were middle-class schools, generally for older children. Some dame schools survived in the 1870s. (fn. 1602) The longest-lived 19th-century school seems to have been a girls' school kept by the Mellor family. It existed by 1851 and survived until the 1890s. (fn. 1603) James Morrow, minister of the Derby Street Congregational chapel, had by 1829 opened a boys' school, the Derby Street Academy, in a schoolroom built on to the chapel. It survived Morrow's death in 1836 but probably came to an end soon after 1840. (fn. 1604) Joseph Sykes, master of St. Luke's National school, resigned in 1860 and opened a commercial school at Ball Haye Hall. In 1863 he moved the school to Stockwell Street, where it remained until he became master of the grammar school in 1870. (fn. 1605) Leek's first secondary school for girls, in existence in the late 1880s, was a private foundation. (fn. 1606)
Itinerant singing masters visited the town in the early 18th century. (fn. 1607) In the early 1790s Thomas Entwhistle, band leader of a theatrical company which was temporarily based at Leek, gave violin and harpsichord lessons there. (fn. 1608) From the 1830s there were generally a few music teachers, including some of the church organists. Benjamin Barlow, organist and choirmaster at St. Edward's from 1835 until his death in 1873, was well known in Leek and throughout Staffordshire as a musician, choirmaster, and music teacher. (fn. 1609)
FURTHER AND ADULT EDUCATION.
Leek Literary and Mechanics' Institute.
A mechanics' institute with a circulating library was established in 1837. (fn. 1610) A later claim that it succeeded an institute dating from 1781 (fn. 1611) seems to be unfounded. For some years it met in rented premises, at first in a school at the Derby Street Congregational chapel, from 1848 or 1849 in larger rooms at the chapel, and from 1854 in a building in Russell Street. (fn. 1612) In 1862 it erected its own premises in Russell Street, a threestoreyed building designed in an Italian style by William Sugden. (fn. 1613) It remained there until its closure in 1929. The founders of the mechanics' institute, who were led by William France, a silk manufacturer, aimed their early publicity at working men who wished to better themselves. They described the 5s. subscription and the 2s. 6d. entry fee, both payable by instalment, as 'trifling'. (fn. 1614) In October 1838 there were 145 members. They had a reading room, open three evenings a week, and a library of almost 500 books, pamphlets, and periodicals. The first lecture organized by the institute had been delivered in April at the Derby Street chapel. By late 1839 various classes had been started, including one in mutual improvement and another to help members with reading, writing, and arithmetic. (fn. 1615) Outside speakers in the 1840s included John Murray, a lecturer on popular science, who gave at least four series of talks at Leek. (fn. 1616) In 1847 the institute joined a Midlands union of literary and mechanics' institutions. By 1849 the institute had 226 members, and the library, then open six nights a week, had grown to c. 1,250 volumes. (fn. 1617) The range of instruction broadened. Drawing classes began in 1843 or 1844 and survived at least until 1849. (fn. 1618) By 1850 there were over 60 pupils attending classes; the subjects included singing, chemistry, and French. (fn. 1619) That year a penny bank was set up at the institute for the 295 members and for the townspeople in general. (fn. 1620)
The move from Derby Street in 1854 followed several years of quarrels over management. Some of the stricter nonconformist members objected to a proposal to buy novels for the library, tried to ban chess and draughts, and alleged that Sunday opening was being contemplated. Their opponents accused them of Calvinistic intolerance, stated that many of the library books were unread because they were too abstruse for a mechanics' institute, and claimed that much of the institute's educational effort had been of little use to 'the poor working boy'. They urged that future presidents should be men with a real interest in the institute and not merely local notables. (fn. 1621) That point of view prevailed, and the institute moved away from the chapel precincts. There was, however, no schism, and the institute retained a strong nonconformist character.
In 1860 it had 287 members 'of all classes'. (fn. 1622) Although it continued its educational work into the 1880s, it gradually became little more than a middle-class social club with a circulating library. From the later 1850s it was generally known as the literary and mechanics' institute. (fn. 1623) The number of working-class members in its early days is unknown. By the later 1860s there were fewer than there had been, and efforts were made to enrol more. The full annual subscription, still described by the managers as trifling, had been increased to 12s., and probably few of the new members were working men. Membership apparently peaked in 1873, at 305. (fn. 1624) The institute's main attractions were its library and reading room, (fn. 1625) but the opening of the Nicholson Institute in 1884, with its free library, made them less of a draw. In 1894 members considered but rejected a proposal to close the institute and to transfer its books to the Nicholson Institute. (fn. 1626) By the early 1900s there were fewer than 100 members. Gifts and interest-free loans from well-wishers, fund-raising activities, and the opening of a billiard room in 1907 enabled the institute to survive. Billiards brought in new members and fees from players, and it also subsidized the library, which by then consisted mainly of popular fiction. (fn. 1627) An appeal for new members in 1924 was apologetic about the oldfashioned word 'mechanics', while finding it necessary to assure working people that they would be welcome. (fn. 1628) In 1928 the institute's trustees decided that it no longer had a useful function, and in 1929 it was closed. In 1930 the county court directed that its funds should be handed over to the urban district council, which was to invest the money and pay the interest to the Nicholson Institute. (fn. 1629)
Leek College of Further Education and School of Art, formerly Leek School of Art and Leek School of Art, Science and Technology.
From 1868 the government's Science and Art Department supported a school of art set up that year by the Leek mechanics' institute. A tutor, hired from the art school at Stoke-upon-Trent, held classes at the institute and apparently at the Union Street British school. Attendance was poor, and the classes were abandoned in 1870. (fn. 1630) In 1874 the institute started new classes in science and art, again in connexion with the Science and Art Department. The art classes, taught by the headmaster of Hanley School of Art, were at first well attended. (fn. 1631) In 1879 they were moved from the institute to a hired room in Stockwell Street, which was large but badly lit and poorly ventilated. The Science and Art Department threatened to withdraw its grant unless better premises were found. In 1881, when average attendance had fallen to c. 30, Joshua Nicholson was persuaded to add accommodation for an art school to his projected institute at Leek. An independent committee was formed to manage the classes and to superintend their eventual move into the new institute. (fn. 1632)
When the Nicholson Institute in Stockwell Street was opened in 1884, it included three large rooms for the art school, for which the school's managing committee paid a nominal rent. A headmaster was appointed, and the school was established on a permanent basis. Almost half the cost of the furniture and equipment was raised by a bazaar in the town hall; the rest came from donations, Science and Art Department grants, and the profits of a lecture given by Oscar Wilde. (fn. 1633) Besides art classes some practical and technical instruction was offered, but in 1890–1 only a few of the 138 students took advantage of it. (fn. 1634)
The Leek improvement commissioners set up a technical instruction committee in 1889, shortly after the passing of the Technical Instruction Act that year. (fn. 1635) In 1891 they adopted the Act, and the committee started its own classes in the Nicholson Institute as Leek Technical School, complementing those offered by the committee of what had become Leek School of Art and Science. The Science and Art Department refused to sanction government grants to two separate committees running similar courses in the same building. The school of art and science and the technical school were accordingly merged in 1892, with the approval of the Science and Art Department, as Leek School of Art, Science and Technology. (fn. 1636) Average weekly attendance rose from 354 in 1892–3 to 694 in 1896–7. It was stated in 1897 that almost two-thirds of the pupils were artisans, clerks, warehousemen, and their children. Pupils included children from local elementary schools sent to the school for practical classes. (fn. 1637)
An extension to the Nicholson Institute built in 1900 was partly for a county silk school, which was promoted by several leading mill owners. They were irked that Macclesfield had a technical school which provided instruction in silk throwing, spinning, and weaving, while all that Leek offered was a class on the theories of silk dyeing. (fn. 1638) In 1901 practical classes in silk dyeing and weaving were started at the new school, but despite the pressure and encouragement of employers they aroused little enthusiasm among employees. In 1912–13 the number of pupils on the register was the same as the average attendance in 1902–3, 25 in the weaving classes and 7 in the dyeing. (fn. 1639) Classes continued as the County School of Hosiery Manufacture and Dyeing in the late 1930s. (fn. 1640)
In 1938 control of the School of Art, Science and Technology passed from the urban district council to the county council. (fn. 1641) By 1955 the school had been divided into a college of further education and a school of art and crafts, both housed at the Nicholson Institute. (fn. 1642) The two were combined in 1981 to form Leek College of Further Education and School of Art. (fn. 1643) By then there were annexes in Union Street and Russell Street, (fn. 1644) and in 1986 a technology block and a business studies centre were opened in Union Street. There was also a subsidiary centre for further education at Biddulph by 1986. (fn. 1645) In 1988–9 the college, one of the smallest in North Staffordshire and serving the Staffordshire Moorlands, had 260 full-time students, 848 part-time day students, 117 part-time day and evening students, and 1,740 students taking evening classes. (fn. 1646) In 1992 it bought the Carr gymnasium, adjoining the Nicholson Institute, from the district council. (fn. 1647) The college became self-managing in 1993, and responsibility for funding it passed from the county council to the Further Education Funding Council for England. In 1994 the interior of the 1900 building was remodelled to provide more study space and better reception facilities. (fn. 1648)
Mutual improvement groups were organized in the 19th century by the churches and chapels (fn. 1649) and by bodies such as the Leek branch of the Y.M.C.A., established in 1858. (fn. 1650) In 1875–6 the town was involved in the short-lived Cambridge University extension scheme in North Staffordshire. Courses of lectures on chemistry and on history were given at Leek, and at the end of the session 13 people were awarded certificates by examination. (fn. 1651) From 1884 the committee of the Nicholson Institute organized educational lectures there on literary, artistic, and scientific subjects. Some lectures were also given there in connexion with an Oxford University extension scheme which ran in North Staffordshire from 1887 to 1892. In 1897 the institute provided a venue for a course of Cambridge University extension lectures on astronomy. (fn. 1652)
A school of cookery was formed in 1876 in connexion with the national School for Cookery at South Kensington. It originally met in the rifle volunteers' hall in Ford Street. In 1877 it began to sponsor courses of lectures and cookery demonstrations at the Temperance Hall in Union Street. In 1878 it co-operated in a scheme which provided workers with hot mid-day meals, eaten at its new premises in Stockwell Street or taken away. (fn. 1653)
From 1964 to 1970 there was a Leek area class for children with special educational needs, housed in part of Mount school, West Street. (fn. 1654) A junior training centre established by the county council in Springfield Road in 1963 became Leek day special school in 1971 and was soon afterwards renamed Springfield special school. In 1992 it had 30 places and took children aged 2–19 with severe learning difficulties or physical handicaps. (fn. 1655) Springhill hostel in Mount Road for adults with learning difficulties was opened in 1966. In 1994 it housed 31 people. (fn. 1656)
In the 1890s cookery classes were run by Leek School of Art, Science and Technology at Hargreaves school, Alsop Street, and those attending included children from local schools. (fn. 1657) Ball Haye Domestic Subjects Centre, at which children from Leek schools were taught cookery, laundry, and household care, was opened in 1918 and still existed in 1926. (fn. 1658) In 1939 the building of the former Hargreaves school was being used as a practical instruction centre and clinic for schoolchildren. (fn. 1659)
A youth centre was opened in 1971 in Milward Hall in Salisbury Street, formerly part of the Leek parish church schools. By 1992 it was a youth and community centre used by all age groups. (fn. 1660) Moorside youth centre in the grounds of Leek high school was opened in 1990. (fn. 1661)
Several small charities founded in the 18th and 19th centuries were for the support of individual Leek schools or were adapted for that purpose. (fn. 1662) By will proved 1925 R. S. Milner established a general educational charity for Leek urban district. A Scheme of 1976 defined potential beneficiaries as persons living in Leek or attending an educational establishment there. In the early 1990s the charity's income, £3,500, was distributed mainly in interest-free loans to college and university students and in grants for pupils to study and travel in Great Britain and abroad in pursuit of their education. (fn. 1663)
CHARITIES FOR THE POOR
When Charity Commissioners visited Leek in 1824, they found the town's charities generally in good order but suggested some improvements in management. (fn. 1664) A Leek branch of the Charity Organization Society was formed in 1879, with an office in Silk Street. It still existed in 1912. (fn. 1665)
Ash Almshouses (fn. 1666)
Elizabeth Ashe, daughter of William Jolliffe of Leek and widow of Edward Ashe, a London draper, (fn. 1667) had eight almshouses built at the corner of Broad Street and Compton in 1676 or 1677. (fn. 1668) The present building carries a plaque with the date 1696. The occupants were to be widows or spinsters aged at least 60, or in some way disabled, and resident in the parish. Each was to receive a weekly dole of 1s. 8d. from the vicar on Sunday, and every two years have a new gown of violet cloth, embroidered with the initials EA. As an endowment she gave a rent of £40 charged on land at Mixon, in Onecote.
The foundress chose the first almswomen and instructed that after her death one was to be chosen by her brother Thomas Jolliffe and his heirs, another by her son William Ashe and his heirs, and the other six by Jolliffe and Ashe jointly with the vicar, churchwardens, and overseers of the poor of Leek parish. Of those six, three were to come from the rural quarters of the parish, Bradnop, Endon, and Leekfrith. Elizabeth Ashe died in 1698. (fn. 1669) Thomas Jolliffe and William Ashe and their heirs seem not to have exercised their right to nominate, and as late as 1727 there still had been no almswoman from Endon quarter and only one from Bradnop quarter. It was agreed that year that all the almswomen should be chosen by the vicar together with the churchwardens and overseers. It was also agreed in 1727 to put the names of the quarters over the doors of the houses assigned to them, and in 1992 the houses severally still bore those names and the names Jolliffe, Ash, and (in three instances) Leek. (fn. 1670)
The division of the quarters in the later 19th century into new parishes caused uncertainty about the method of selection. The matter was settled by a Scheme of 1908: a body of 10 trustees, including the vicars of the three town churches, were to choose the almswomen for the Jolliffe and Ash houses; the vicars with their churchwardens and the overseers of Leek and Lowe were to choose the women for the Leek houses; and the vicar of St. Edward's with the appropriate vicars, churchwardens, and overseers were to choose women for the houses assigned to the former rural quarters. (fn. 1671) A Scheme of 1980 restricted almswomen to residents of an area within 5 miles of Leek market place, preference being given to those living in one of the former townships of the ancient parish. It also renamed the charity the Ash Homes. (fn. 1672)
The almshouses form an L-shaped building, with six dwellings facing Broad Street and two Compton. Originally a single-storey block, a second storey lit by dormer windows was added in the 18th century, possibly about the time of the 1727 agreement. (fn. 1673) The houses were restored in 1911, when the work involved raising the roof by 2 ft. and extending the back walls. (fn. 1674) A separate building comprising four flats for additional almswomen was built in Compton on the south side of the almshouses in 1985. (fn. 1675)
Several charities have been established to support the almshouses. In 1678 Elizabeth Ashe's aunt Anne, the wife of Sir John Dethick, lord mayor of London, (fn. 1676) gave £100, the interest to be spent on coal. In 1723 the capital was used, together with £100 left for the poor of Leek town by Thomas Jolliffe (d. 1693) and £10 similarly left by a Mrs. Haywood of Macclesfield (Ches.), (fn. 1677) to buy 22½ a. at Oulton, in Rushton Spencer. (fn. 1678) The almswomen were entitled to 10/21 parts of the rent from the land, the remainder being for the poor of Leek town. In the earlier 1820s the land was let at £25 a year, and a further £25 was received partly as the interest on money from the sale of timber in 1803 and partly from further occasional sales of timber and underwood. The land was sold in 1974. (fn. 1679) In 1765 Rebecca Lowe, a relative of Thomas Jolliffe, (fn. 1680) left £400 for the almswomen. It was invested in stock, which in the earlier 1820s produced an income of £13 1s. 7½d. By then a weekly dole of 2s. 6d. had for some time been paid to each almswoman. There was then no money to provide new gowns as directed by the foundress, but it was hoped that there would be enough to buy some in 1825. In 1876 the executors of Martha Babington gave £50, the interest to be spent on paying each almswoman 5s. a year on 1 January. Maria Jane Van Tuyl by will proved 1877 left £1,000 for the almswomen, Mary Flint (d. 1889) £500, George Sutton by will proved 1897 £200, and Elizabeth Flint by will proved 1905 £500. (fn. 1681)
In 1867 Elizabeth Condlyffe (d. 1878) bought land at Cornhill Cross as the site for six almshouses. Eight were in fact built in 1882 in what later became Condlyffe Road. In two ranges joined by an arch, they are in an Arts and Crafts style designed by an architect named Lowe. Residence is restricted to men and women aged 50 years or over who are members of the Church of England. In 1966 each of the eight houses was divided into an upper and a lower self-contained flat. (fn. 1682)
In 1893 Isabella Carr (d. 1899), daughter of Thomas Carr, a Leek silk manufacturer, had three almshouses built at the east end of Fountain Street in memory of her sisters Ellen and Rosanna Carr. Residence is restricted to men and women, whether married or single, who are members of the Church of England. A Scheme of 1981 renamed the charity the Carr Homes. (fn. 1683)
Christian widows or spinsters resident in the area of the former Leek urban district are eligible to apply for a place at St. Joseph's Homestead, in Stratford-upon-Avon (Warws.), an almshouse founded in 1911 by Agnes and Rose Edith Carr-Smith, nieces of William Carr of Leek (d. 1903). (fn. 1684)
THE TOWN DOLE.
By the earlier 1820s several charities for the poor which were managed by the churchwardens of Leek had been merged as the Town Dole. (fn. 1685) It is uncertain whether some of the earliest charities were intended to benefit the whole of the ancient parish or only the township of Leek and Lowe or the town of Leek. By the earlier 1820s, however, the area was restricted to Leek and Lowe township.
The earliest known is the bequest of William Watson, a Leek grocer, who by will proved 1689 left to the poor of Leek the income from land near Barngates, with the tithe of corn from the land. (fn. 1686) The income was £6 in the later 1780s but had increased to £15 10s. by the earlier 1820s. (fn. 1687)
William Hulme, minister of Newton Solney (Derb.), left the interest on £26 13s. 4d. to the poor of Leek town and parish. The capital was given to a relative Robert Hulme, whose son John Hulme (d. 1690) of Thorncliffe, in Tittesworth, secured the charity by his will. (fn. 1688) The income was £1 6s. in the later 1780s and the earlier 1820s. (fn. 1689) John Hulme also left to the poor of Leek town and parish the rent from half the first crop from four days' mowing of a meadow called Leadbetters (later Poor's) meadow. (fn. 1690) The rent, which was to be distributed at Christmas, was £1 10s. in the later 1780s, when it was charged on land called Craddock's meadow; in the earlier 1820s it was £1 15s. 10d. (fn. 1691)
The poor of Leek town benefited from 11/21 parts of the income from the land at Oulton, in Rushton Spencer, bought in 1723 with the bequests of Thomas Jolliffe and Mrs. Haywood. (fn. 1692) The share was £27 5s. in 1823. (fn. 1693)
In the earlier 1820s the income from all the above charities, together with that from the charity of Anne Jolliffe, (fn. 1696) was £85 12s. 10d., which was distributed in money, blankets, and linen at Christmas; coal was also sometimes given. To prevent people who lived outside Leek and Lowe township receiving any benefit, those eligible to share in the distribution were issued with tickets. (fn. 1697)
Four other charities, originally administered separately, had been incorporated into the Town Dole by 1991. By will dated 1644 Elizabeth St. Andrew left a rent of 13s. 4d. charged on land in Gayton for distribution to the poor of Leek on Good Friday. (fn. 1698) In the earlier 1820s the vicar distributed the dole weekly in the form of 16 quarts of soup to eight poor widows or families in Leek and Lowe township. (fn. 1699) There was a soup kitchen supported by the charity in Mill Street in the later 1940s, when it was closed. (fn. 1700)
By will proved 1668 Joan Armett of Thorneyleigh Hall Farm, in Leekfrith, left a rent of £2 13s. 4d. charged on land in Leekfrith to be distributed on Christmas Eve to the poor of Leek town, preference being given to those living in Mill Street. In the earlier 1820s the dole was given in sums of 1s. or less by the tenant of the land, prior notice of the distribution being given by the town crier. (fn. 1701)
By will proved 1749 William Mills of Leek left the interest on £100, after payments of 20s. to the vicar of Leek for a charity sermon and 5s. to the parish clerk, for the distribution of bread on Sundays to poor widows of Leek and Lowe and of Leekfrith. (fn. 1702) The poor's share in the earlier 1820s was £3 15s., which together with £2 15s. from James Rudyard's charity (fn. 1703) was spent on a weekly dole of 36 bread rolls. The rolls were distributed by the organ-blower after Sundaymorning service; between six and eight rolls were taken to poor people too old to attend. (fn. 1704) Bread was still left in the porch of St. Edward's church for collection by the poor in the mid 1970s. (fn. 1705)
William Badnall, a Leek silk dyer (d. 1806), left the interest on £1,000 to be distributed in blankets, quilts, clothing, and other necessities such as coal but not food or drink on 5 November to 20 poor widows aged 60 or over; half the widows were to be residents in Leek town and half in Lowe. Because an insufficient number from Lowe were eligible, the number of town widows who benefited in the earlier 1820s was 13. (fn. 1706)
In 1991 there was a distribution of c. £950 from the combined funds of all the charities included in the Town Dole. The money, given in small cash payments to individuals and families in need, was distributed by the warden of Leek in consultation with social agencies. (fn. 1707)
In 1619 John Rothwell of Leek (d. 1623) gave a rent of £10 10s. charged on land at 'Hellsend', probably Hillswood End in Leekfrith, and at Horsecroft, in Tittesworth, to provide a weekly dole of 7d. to six poor people in Leek, the residue going to the vicar for sermons. In the later 1780s the income was £9 2s. 6d. In the earlier 1820s £10 7s. 6d. was distributed by the vicar in a weekly dole to six poor widows. (fn. 1708) In 1991 the charity was administered with those of James Rudyard and John Naylor (below) by the warden of Leek. A distribution of c. £200 was made that year in the form of parcels or vouchers to old people at Christmas. (fn. 1709)
By will proved 1714 James Rudyard of Abbey Dieulacres, in Leekfrith, left a rent of £2 15s. charged on land in Leekfrith to endow a bread dole: 1d. loaves were to be distributed to 12 poor people at St. Edward's church every Sunday after evening service and on Christmas Day, Good Friday, and Ascension Day. Beneficiaries unable to come to church because of ill health were to be sent a loaf. (fn. 1710) In the earlier 1820s the income was used along with £3 15s. from William Mills's charity to provide a weekly dole of 36 bread rolls. (fn. 1711) In 1991 the charity was administered by the warden of Leek, together with those of John Rothwell and John Naylor.
In 1732 shortly before her death Anne Jolliffe, daughter of Thomas, Lord Crew, and widow of John Jolliffe of Cheddleton, gave the interest on £250 to be shared by the curate of Cheddleton (£4 a year), 12 poor widows of Cheddleton (£1 4s.), and poor widows of Leek (the remainder). The money was used to buy land at Compton and near Cornhill Cross. The income was £11 2s. in the later 1780s but had increased to £38 10s. by 1805. (fn. 1712) The Cornhill Cross land was sold to the improvement commissioners in 1856 for part of the new cemetery, and in 1867 the trustees used the money to buy the 34-a. Pewit Hall farm, in Onecote. In 1873 the land at Compton was exchanged for the 36-a. Rock Tenement farm at Wetley Rocks, in Cheddleton. In 1992 a distribution of £35 was made to 39 Leek widows. (fn. 1713)
John Naylor of Leek (d. 1739) directed his executors to secure an annuity of £50 for the poor of Leek town. The charity was established in the early 1740s. By 1783 the income had fallen to £44 3s. 8d., which was then distributed on 23 October. In the earlier 1820s the distribution was usually made every two years in the form of tickets for food or clothing, to be used in Leek shops. (fn. 1714) In 1991 the charity was administered by the warden of Leek, together with those of John Rothwell and James Rudyard.
By will dated 1741 or 1742 William Grosvenor left the interest on £20 to be distributed on St. Thomas's Day (21 December) to poor householders of Leek town. The income was £1 in the later 1780s. The charity had been lost by the earlier 1820s. (fn. 1715)
By will proved 1755 Thomas Birtles, a Leek button merchant, left the interest on £100 to be distributed on St. Thomas's day to poor householders of Leek town. In 1814 the capital was used to buy stock, and by the earlier 1820s a distribution of £5 was given to poor widows. (fn. 1716) The charity still existed in 1911, when there was a distribution of £2 18s. 4d. made in 2s. doles. (fn. 1717)
Joseph Wardle of Leek (d. 1780) left an annuity of £5 to be distributed twice a year to the poor of Leek and Lowe township. The charity may not have taken effect: it was not recorded in the later 1780s. (fn. 1718)
The Carr Trust was formed in 1981 by the amalgamation of the charities of Charles Carr, William Carr, and Elizabeth Flint. (fn. 1719) Charles Carr (d. 1888) left the interest on £1,250 to be spent on the poor living in Leek town or within 5 miles. The charity became effective only after the death of an annuitant in 1903. (fn. 1720) Charles's brother William (d. 1903), a Manchester businessman who retired to Leek, left his estate of c. £90,000 for charitable purposes in the town, subject to life interests which expired in 1926, 1939, and 1948. The first charitable disbursement was made in 1928, when the beneficiaries were the almshouses established by his sister Isabella Carr, the cottage hospital, the cripples' clinic, and the Cruso Nursing Association. In 1929 part of the income was used to open a soup kitchen for school children in the Butter Market. (fn. 1721) The charity of Elizabeth Flint of Leek was established by will proved 1905. The income was for general charitable purposes, including poor relief in Leek. (fn. 1722) Much of the income of the Carr Trust was spent in 1991 on payments of £10 a month to some 100 persons, who also received a £20 Christmas bonus. (fn. 1723)
In 1913 W. S. Brough of Leek (d. 1917) established a charity for the relief in kind of the poor of Leek. It still existed in 1929 but no later record has been found. (fn. 1724)