An ancient crop native to the Middle East and Mediterranean, the leek (Allum Porrum) is a member of the onion and garlic family. They are mentioned in the earliest known cookbook ‘Apicius’ written in the fourth or fifth century AD and thought to have been introduced to this country by the Romans. The growers of the North East belong to the historic tradition of the Leac-wards (Leek Keepers/Gardeners) of Anglo-Saxon Britain.

The first recorded Leek Show took place in Swarland in Northumberland in 1846, and the idea flourished to become an important annual cultural event in the Mining communities of the North East as an opportunity for miners to spend time outdoors in the fresh air after working all week underground.

As the mines were closed and communities changed, the shows have dwindled in numbers, but the tradition still continues in the area. The Rockcliffe Arms Leek Club in Whitley Bay survives on the minimum number of ten members.