Churches Together in Otley

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History of The Churches in Otley             contents page

Note: the detail below is from the 2002 edition
 of Otley Past Present and Future



Methodism sprang up in Otley around 1740, largely due to the impassioned preaching of John Nelson, a stonemason from Birstall. The road in front of the Post Office still bears his name.

The early Methodists met first at Green Lane near the old railway line and then built their first chapel on the site of HSBC in Nelson Street in 1771. John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, was to preach here and to visit Otley on a score of occasions during his tireless journeys on horseback round the country. He developed a warm friendship with the Ritchie family and a plaque may be seen outside their former home in Boroughgate.

Methodist numbers grew phenomenally and a bigger Chapel was built in 1825, now part of Chevin Court. Finally, the present Chapel was erected in Boroughgate in 1875 with a seating capacity of 1000.

Offshoots from the main Wesleyan movement began to appear in Otley in the nineteenth century. ‘The New Connexion’ Methodists built a Chapel in Walkergate and a later one in Westgate, now a car park. The Primitive Methodists built a Chapel, now the Salvation Army Citadel, and a larger one in Station Road. There were also two Mission Halls, the Craven Street Mission and the Otley and Wharfedale Mission. From the latter sprang the Bethel Gospel Mission.

Following the two world wars church attendances dwindled and by 1965 all Methodists in Otley were meeting at the main Church in Boroughgate. In the early seventies the Church was modernised, introducing glass doors at the front and a large foyer. Ceilings were lowered and the sanctuary redecorated.

At the present time an ambitious redevelopment scheme has been launched which includes plans for better access at the rear of the Church as well as better amenities for young folk and the disabled. The Methodist Church in Otley now has fewer than 200 members, but apart from worship services, its premises are well used by many and varied groups and organisations.

For over 250 years the Methodist people have worshipped and served the community of Otley. It is our hope that we will continue to serve Jesus as his disciples well into the twenty-first century

For more information visit our Web Site at


Nelson Street Chapel

Boroughgate Chapel

Present Church

Green Lane Cottage