Archaeological evidence suggests there may have been settlements in this area as long ago as 3000BC, but it was during the period roughly 500-900AD that the Anglo-Saxons introduced the civil administrative structure still underlying the organisation of our towns and villages today. Under this system, self-sufficient farming communities were organised in groups of homesteads, with a central principal homestead belonging to a " lord" which were arranged along definable street structure. One such was the embryonic East Leake, and indeed the name "Leake" derives from the old English (i.e. Anglo-Saxon) word "Lecche/Leche" for a water meadow.
By the time the Normans recorded the state of the nation (for tax purposes!) in the Doomsday Book (1086), there were 28 persons in Leche liable to be taxed, as either landowners or tenants. Their dependents and people with no rights to land were not recorded, but the total population has been estimated at over 200.
The boundary of the parish had been formed by the start of the 12th century and was further consolidated under the 1798 Act of Enclosure, at which time the population was approximately 1000, with about 20% employed in agriculture. The 1851 census records a population of 1148, and, after a reduction at the start of the 20th century, this had risen to just 1500 by 1941.
During the Second World War a decision was made to expand East Leake. Since then its population has risen rapidly to its present level of 6108 (2001 census), of whom 4838 are listed on the 2003 Electoral Register for the village. For electoral purposes, the parish is divided into three wards, Stonebridge to the north, Woodgate to the west and Castle to the east.
An important factor is the rapid expansion was the exploitation of local gypsum deposits and the establishment of the British Plaster Board plant in the village. The urgent need to house the extra workers required led to the construction of the Rushcliffe Estate of prefabricated houses. Further housing estates have developed since 1950, and no doubt there will be more in the future.
Today East Leake is one of the larger villages in South West Nottinghamshire and is a local centre providing facilities for nearby villages. Rural in nature, it sits in an area between the River Trent, the River Soar and an ancient roadway, still called The Fosse. It is situated between Nottingham, 10 miles (16kms) to the north east, Derby,16 miles (25.6kms) to the north west, and Loughborough 6 miles (9.6kms) to the south.
In the last 50 years East Leake has become a residential village, with most of the working population commuting to the cities and industrial parks close by. The largest local employer remains British Gypsum. Others who have been attracted to the village are members of staff of the five universities in the area, East Midlands Airport, and Ratcliffe Power Station. The village has also proved attractive to retired people, especially the parents of younger residents, but despite the influx of newcommers there still remains a core of descendents of old village familes able to trace their local origins over many decades.
The old local industries like framework knitting and basket-making have gone and farming no longer provides significant employment. British Plaster Board, renamed British Gypsum and now a subsiduary of Saint-Gobain, has carried the name of East Leake to distant countries. In the past 50 years two significant new firms have started in East Leake; Ellis Rope and Tent Services (now relocated in Costock) making bell ropes to ring cathedral and church bells around the world, and Micropropagation Services (E.M.) Ltd propogating roses, shrubs, bushes and trees for landscaping as well as contract propogation. They were given a county council grant to clone the major oak in Sherwood Forest, to be planted in the World Peace Garden outside the United Nations Building in New York, USA.