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Oxford Place Chapel

The site for Oxford Place Chapel was purchased by the Methodist Church on 2nd December 1834. The original church was designed by James Simpson, who was born in Aberford, and designed St. Peter's Chapel and other Methodist churches in Leeds. The building contractors were Boothman and Woolley, and the foundation stone laid on 4th February 1835, by the Rev. Robert Wood. The chapel was built to seat 2,600, of which 1000 were free seats for the poor.

The chapel was opened on Friday 19th October 1835.  A Sunday school was held in the basement, but this soon proved too small, and it was moved to premises in Oxford Row. From 1841 the basement rooms were let to a Mr. Kay, who ran a day school there, and from 1885 to 1889 the rooms were used by the City of Leeds School.

By the end of the nineteenth Century, Oxford Place, and Wesleyan Methodism in general faced a crisis. Membership was declining. The response was to make Oxford Place a mission, and in 1894 a new minister, Rev. Samuel Chadwick was appointed. He had been very successful at Wesley Chapel Meadow Lane, and he repeated the success at Oxford Place.

Soon the building was inadequate for the large congregation, and 1896 work began on new premises. The architects Danby and Thorpe of Leeds designed the present building with its cupola, campanile and Baroque façade. During the re-building work, evening services were held at the Coliseum in Cookridge Street, which had room for 4000 people. So many people wanted to attend that admission often had to be refused. On the return to Oxford Place the congregation had grown, people coming from as far afield as Keighley to hear Samuel Chadwick preach. The train running from Keighley to Leeds was known as Chadwick's train.

On 4th September 1911 a fire broke out in the Chapel which destroyed the organ and damaged the rostrum and seating. While repairs were carried out services were again held at the Coliseum.

In 1956 plans were drawn up to radically change the central area of Leeds. Oxford Place chapel was to be demolished to make way for new Law Courts. In the early 1970s the proposals were finalised, but plans to build a new chapel on an adjacent site were defeated when a preservation order was placed on the old building. The interior of the old building was reconstructed, in part using funds from the sale of the old Sunday School building and Brunswick chapel, closed in 1972. The architects were Trevor Wilkinson Associates of York. A new sanctuary and ground floor premises were opened in May 1979, and the newly refurbished basement in 1982. The chapel and adjoining buildings are now both a chapel and a community care centre – Oxford Place Centre.
Click images to enlarge
Oxford Place Chapel
Oxford Place Chapel
Interior, undated
Interior, undated
The Congregation, c. 1900
The Congregation, c. 1900
The Choir in 1911, before the fire
The Choir in 1911, before the fire
Dinner hour service, 1913
Dinner hour service, 1913
Oxford Place, 2003
Oxford Place, 2003




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© 2003 Leeds City Council | Site created by: LCC electronic information team | 25 March 2003