is a town in the county
, on the River Churnet
. It is an ancient borough and was granted its royal charter
in 1214. Today it has around 20,000 inhabitants, and is the administrative center for the Staffordshire Moorlands District Council.
The town has had a regular cattle market for hundreds of years, reflecting its role as a center of local farming. During the industrial revolution it became a major producer of textiles. Though this industry has declined somewhat, it has continued through the large number of clothing manufacturers in the town, and the prominence of dyeing and allied trades.
Leek was the home of James Brindley, the 18th century engineer who built most of the canal network. He built a water-powered corn mill in 1752. This watermill is now the Brindley Water Museum.
William Morris, founder of the Arts and Crafts movement, lived and worked in Leek between 1875 and 1878.