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History of Leek Part 2

Around the end of the 18th century the Leek branch of the Caldon canal was opened, served by a reservoir at nearby Rudyard and by the mid-19th century the railway had also arrived. The Churnet Valley Line linked Macclesfield to Uttoxeter, with stations in Leek and Rudyard, followed by a further line connecting Stoke on Trent to Leek. Soon afterwards, the North Staffordshire Railway Company landscaped areas around what was now named Rudyard Lake and regattas were held which attracted thousands of visitors most of whom had travelled on the Churnet Valley Line – the early railway owners were very astute in business! Rudyard Lake continued to be popular with Victorian visitors and was even promoted as the ‘Switzerland of England’ due to the attractiveness of the surrounding landscape and scenery. Later, in the 20th century, the Staffordshire Moorlands which surround Leek were promoted as a tourist attraction to encourage walkers and rock climbers, together with sailors to Rudyard Lake. The promotion of the area as a tourist attraction continued with the growth of the nearby theme park at Alton Towers, which is set in 500 acres of beautiful Staffordshire countryside.

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