Heritage honour for birthplace of Leeds United

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A historic chapel building with an unsung role in the sporting story of Leeds has won recognition from heritage experts.

The Leeds Civic Trust today announced Salem Chapel as the latest recipient of one of its coveted blue plaques.

Situated near the former Tetley’s brewery, it is the oldest surviving non-conformist chapel in Leeds city centre.

But its architectural and religious significance isn’t the only reason why the trust is honouring it with a plaque.

For the Grade II listed building on Hunslet Lane also played a part in the founding of Leeds United.

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Its hall was the venue for a public meeting in 1919 where the decision was taken to set up United, following the disbandment of Leeds City Football Club over financial misdemeanours.

Opened in 1791, the chapel’s distinctive curved facade was added in 1906. It closed as a place of worship in 2001 and for the last two years it has been home to telecommunications firm AQL.

Trust director Dr Kevin Grady said: “There are many reasons why we felt it was right for this important chapel to receive a plaque and its connection to Leeds United is one of them.

“When the chapel was first built in the 18th century its location was very prominent because it was close to Leeds Bridge, which at the time was the principal gateway to the town from the south.

“The people who worshipped there would have been significant members of the community, arriving in their carriages.

“[Then] with industrialisation the chapel came to serve the working classes of Hunslet.”

Leeds Civic Trust has put up over 100 plaques since the 1980s, each one celebrating an important figure, organisation or building from the city’s past.

The Salem Chapel plaque is due to be unveiled at a ceremony taking place this Thursday afternoon.

* Non-conformist is the name given to Protestants who are not members of the Church of England. The range of groups under its banner has included Methodists, Independent Dissenters (later known as Congregationalists), Quakers and Baptists.