Leek, nestled at the foot of the Pennines in North Staffordshire, is a small, quiet market town rich in history and still boasting a wealth of architectural gems scattered throughout its narrow streets. Its people are friendly and welcoming, and visitors from Stoke-on-Trent and beyond stop by regularly to search its antique shops and to learn of its wonderful textile heritage. It has strong connections with such august figures as William Morris, who lived in the town for a period, and architect Norman Shaw. Leek Through the Ages is the sister volume to Leek Through Time, published in 2012, and covers subjects not included in the earlier title. It contains early photographs of many of Leek's pubs, which numbered fifty-two within living memory - a considerable number for a town boasting only 20,000 residents today, a time of rapid population growth. School-leavers would declare that they were going to tour every pub in the town and drink a half pint of beer in each - where they would obtain the money to do this from and why many more young people didn't die of alcohol poisoning suggests that this was a vain boast.
Neil Collingwood was born in 1956 in Leek, Staffordshire (where he now lives) although most of his life has been spent in Newcastle-under-Lyme. He developed an interest in local history following a period working as a Museum Attendant at Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Museum after obtaining a degree in Applied Biology. He soon discovered the archive collection of old photographs that the Museum held and asked for permission to catalogue them on computer (up to that point there was only a handwritten paper list of about 1,500 photos). After his fixed-term contract ended he remained working as a volunteer archivist at the Museum for about 7 years and catalogued a lot more of the archive besides the photographs. He has had two previous local history photo books published and also an Atlas of the Dragonflies of Staffordshire. He has done many slide-talks on Newcastle-under-Lyme using both old photos and his own and have also delivered a couple of lectures at the Museum on using and dating old photographs to people on local history courses. He is probably now an authority on photos of Newcastle.
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