The Foxlowe Arts Centre was the brainchild of a group of local people who had the vision of a thriving centre for a rich variety of arts-related projects in the heart of the historic market town of Leek.

Initially a group of volunteers cleared,cleaned and decorated part of the Georgian building, known as No. 1 Leek, ready for the first Christmas Exhibition in December 2011 shortly followed by the opening of the community café and a programme of arts events.

The Foxlowe Arts Centre has grown from strength to strength and now includes a cinema, comedy club, music, theatre productions, exhibition gallery, documentary films, a talks programme, arts fair, room hire, heritage room, wedding and private function venue, fashion show, schools workshops and an ever-developing garden.

The café serves freshly cooked food is a meeting place for visitors and the local community. Where possible the café serves Fairtrade produce and locally sourced ingredients.

After an initial lease of the building the Foxlowe Arts Centre entered into a 15 year mortgage in August 2015 made possible with a donation from the Parkside Trust as a deposit, an initial three year commitment from Leek Town Council and the continuing support from the community pledging money and volunteering their time.

Foxlowe Arts Centre

Foxlowe in a previous incarnation as the Trades & Labour Club

This elegant Georgian House stands in a prime position at the head of Leek’s Market Place. It has looked out over markets, gatherings, celebrations and the everyday lives of Leek people for centuries. The house was not always known as Foxlowe, and was generally known as No 1 Leek.

Thomas Mills a wealthy solicitor and landowner commissioned the building of the house in the 1770s. After Thomas died in 1802, his son (also Thomas) inherited the house which in 1819 had extensive grounds with groves, plantations and a small lake in the valley below. The Mills practice was purchased by John Cruso who was living at Foxlowe by 1834. John’s son, also John, was a widower in1851 when he lived here employing a cook, housemaid, laundress and a footman. His coachman lived in Cruso’s yard a little further down Stockwell Street. John married again and it is his second wife, Ann Cruso, who was very involved in the life of Leek. She entertained many prestigious guests here including the Earl of Macclesfield and the Duchess of Teck. When Ann lived here the dining room had huge family portraits, crimson velvet curtains, gilt pelmets and ponderous mahogany furniture. In the evening the long dining table sparkled with glass, silver and candelabra.

The drawing room with floor to ceiling bow windows had glorious views over the Roaches. This room had elaborate gilt cornices and silver sconces round the walls. In keeping with Victorian furnishing tastes it was full of ottomans, whatnots, chiffoniers and fauteuils.

The former dining room and drawing room are now Foxlowe’s café.

After Ann Cruso died in 1893, the Foxlowe was purchased by George Davenport, manufacturer and a director of Wardle and Davenport & Co.Ltd. George remodelled the house adding a billiard room and a service wing. George died in 1912 and the house was advertisedfor sale in 1914. It was described as a Georgian house with gardens, grounds, 3 acres of land, 3 closes of excellent grass land of 15 and a half acres. It had 4 reception rooms, a billiard room, 13 bed and dressing rooms and was fitted with electric lights and heating.
Outside was a coachman’s house, stabling for 5 horses, a garage for 2 cars, a coach house and 2 excellent tennis courts formed of brick ash.
On this occasion the house failed to reach its reserve price and so remained the property of Mrs Davenport who allowed it to be used as a Red Cross hospital for wounded soldiers from the war.

In 1919 the Amalgamated Society of Textile and Kindred Trades bought Foxlowe. The Union took over the house and using the front bedrooms as offices. On 12th July 1919 the Leek Post and Times reported the opening of Foxlowe Clubhouse at the top of the town as the Trades and Labour Club.