Driving into Leek along the A53 from Stoke, you catch sight of the striking black and white profile of the Victoria Buildings on the left hand side. Turn the corner from Broad St (A53) into St Edward Street and you will find the home of Odeon Antiques on the ground floor and Sherratt and Reece, picture framers above.
This building (grade two listed) dates back to 1897. It was designed by James G Smith for Henry Bermingham, a local silk manufacturer. Warm red ashlar construction to the ground floor, with black and white half-timbering above, all under a plain-tiled roof and the amazing Leek style chimney stacks which are described in their listing as: “End wall and axial stacks, all with star-shaped shafts and corbelled caps”.
Next along is Number 70 and 72, an early 19th century, red brick three story building where 70 is home to Spout Coffee Shop. From the listing information, it is grade two and “The building has been subdivided internally to the left of the entrance hall, and No.72 is now entered from a side door, approached through a doorway in stone architrave to the left of the building.”
The choice of Spout’s name for their coffee shop is an apt reference to the former name of this street: ‘Spout Street’ .
From the British History website, Leek’s name may “derive from either the Old English lece or the Old Norse loekr, both meaning brook. 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).”
‘Spout Hall’ was once possibly two dwellings but it is now subdivided as flats. The year 1873 is inscribed in the sandstone above the left hand door and the design is attributed to the architect Richard Norman Shaw who favoured reviving vernacular materials like half-timber and projecting gables and tall chimneys. It is another grade 2 listed building.
Look closely towards the eaves of this red brick three storey building and you will see a date on the rainwater head: 1747. It also has the letters ‘LSM’ – any ideas what this stands for?
British History online writes:
“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.”
So looking at No 62 next:
This building threw me a bit of a curve ball. It is actually all one building, and dates back to 1724, the year that Johann Sebastian Bach’s “St John Passion” had its premiere in Leipzig.
From the listing description: “The left-hand part of the building is a later refronting of an earlier structure: brick, but render in gable walls, and steepness of roof pitch suggest possible timber-framed core.” This move to resurface the exterior of the earlier building with brick reflects the changing architectural styles of the time and was probably due to the growing prosperity of certain inhabitants connected with the silk industry.
It’s worth taking a closer look at the finer details including fleur de lys and what could be stag motifs on the brackets holding the rainwater pipe. These could be clues to the people associated with this earlier life of this building.
From the listing description (grade 2), No 60 is said to have been built for a member of the Sleigh family and appears to have been intended to include retailing from the outset.
There is an inscription ‘Les Hetres’ (beech trees) above the door and a date of 1883. Once again we see these flamboyant chimney stacks described as “moulded brick forming star-shaped shafts with stone caps”. The building is considered possibly the work of William Sugden & Son of Leek.
This pair of brick built houses was possibly originally designed to include shops and built around 1800. It is now in use as Joanne’s Hair Studio and One Little Daisy Photography with accommodation over.
It still has the cast iron spear-head railings to the front.
Originally built mid 18th C as a house, this is now in use by the solicitors Bowcock and Pursaill. There were some late C19 additions, probably by Larner Sugden, made to the rear. It is listed grade 2.
The closer you look at these buildings the more you find.
The drawing can be seen in full on my website Drawing the Street and limited edition signed prints are available to view and buy from Sherratt and Reece above Odeon Antiques at No 76 St Edward Street.
I would love to hear from you if you can share any insights into the lives of these buildings and their occupants. Please get in touch!
Thanks for reading,