The story of Rudyard really began in 1797 when an Act
of Parliament authorised the construction of a two and a half mile
long reservoir just north of Leek in the Staffordshire Moorlands.
Its purpose was to feed the ever growing system of canals that
were vital arteries of the Industrial Revolution in the Midlands.
in 1829, the North Staffordshire Railway Company laid a track
skirting the lake, part of a line linking Manchester with
Uttoxeter, and built a station at each end of the lake.
Before long it became a weekend mecca for day trippers, with
a constant stream of excursion trains from Manchester and
the Potteries disgorging thousands attracted by the beautiful
surroundings and the many activities laid on for their pleasure.
Awaiting them was a fleet of rowing boats, a funfair, brass
band concerts and dozens of tearooms.
Among the numerous courting couples who walked the tranquil
banks of the lake in 1863 were a certain John Lockwood Kipling
and Alice Macdonald. Their love blossomed, they married, and
their first-born was named after the lake. He became one of
Britain's greatest writers.
Lake's peak of popularity was towards the end of the 1800s,
when in one day as many as 20,000 excursionists would buy
cheap train tickets. There were plenty of celebrities to entertain
them too. The world's greatest trapeze artist, Blondin, fresh
from his feat of crossing Niagara Falls on the high wire,
came to Rudyard to repeat his achievement. And Captain Webb,
the first man to swim the English Channel, delighted the crowds
lining the line with a demonstration of his prowess.