First attested in 1590 the village at that time consisted of little more than a house and farm in what is now the Brooms area of the village. The village sat on land that was rich in mineral deposits, coal and iron in particular. Although the deposits were worked as far back as the 16th century it wasn’t until the mid 18th century that these were exploited on a large scale.
The village continued to prosper, initially the main employer was the Consett Iron Company (once the Derwent Iron Company). Eden Colliery, the pit for which was sunk in 1850, provided employment and the coming of the railways with the opening of Leadgate Station in 1896 improved the overall economics of the village.
At the turn of the 20th century the inhabitants of Leadgate had plenty of opportunities to improve their living. The village was what might be called a boom town, the Consett Iron Company, Eden Colliery, North East Railways and Bradley Workshops provided the convenience of work within the area.
The labour was hard, conditions were still harsh, and throughout the country there were calls for Social Reform and better working conditions. The North East of England was an area in real need of reform, miners in particular faced harsh employment conditions.
Under the recommendation of a Royal Commission in 1867 Trade Unions in the United Kingdom became legal, the early attempts to form the movement faced resistance from the employers but by the early 1900s the unions were making inroads in improving the lot of the worker.
The Great War - 1914-1918
Britain went to war with Germany in August 1914, and throughout the land men answered the call and enlisted. At the time it was not expected to last long however it continued for 4 long hard years during which over 700,000 British lives were lost.
Post war Britain, and especially in the North East of England, was not the "Land fit for Heroes" as promised by the Prime Minister, David Lloyd George. The cost of war and the loss of foreign trade made the economic situation very difficult. Over this period there was great hardship for all including the returning soldiers. Hunger and unemployment was rife, strike actions like the General Strike of 1926 did little to improve things. Miners were hit hardest by the depression, facing wage cuts and longer hours or unemployment. As many Leadgate people worked in mining the effects were keenly felt in the village.
Leadgate, like most of the country, slowly recovered from the depression and emerged into what could be considered the second industrial era. Coal (Nationalised in 1947), and Steel production (Nationalised in 1951), led the recovery and despite the interruption caused by the Second World War 1939 - 1945, these were industries readily available in the area.
The period between the late 1960s up to the 1980s saw a steady decline in coal mining and steel making, both of which had been large employers in Leadgate and the surrounding area. Eden Colliery closed in 1980, however by then only 194 miners were employed from a high of 951 in 1950. British Steel closed the Consett plant in September 1980 with a loss of 3,700 jobs. The effect of these closures was keenly felt, not only in Leadgate but in the whole of the North East.
Leadgate, like a lot of other industrial areas was slow to recover, with the assistance of Government grants, new service and retail businesses were encouraged to move into the area. The conversion to a Service and Retail Economy started in the mid 1990's and today Leadgate is, once again, a thriving community. The village has many local amenities and services and the local inhabitants take great pride in caring for the local environment.