Chapel History

The formation of a Unitarian congregation in Denton took place in 1875 when services began to be held in the Cooperative Hall, Ashton Road, a building still standing, though it has changed its usage many times. The services were a success and a campaign was held to raise money for the building of a chapel. Four years later a building was erected, to be known as Wilton Street Chapel, a building that was to stand for for 124 years.

In 1879 the Chapel's first Minister was appointed and Rev. Lawrence Scott was to serve in that capacity for over fifty years! Lawrence Scott's ministry was to have an enormous impact in the town. A social reformer, he inspired the creation of many of the town's institutions. A day school was established and the school's successor, now part of the state system, is still in existence, and still bears its original name, the Russell Scott School, named after Lawrence Scott's father. Playgrounds were built, a Lad's Club and Gymnasium established, and the People's Hall was created to become a major focus for the town's social life. Lawrence Scott, as well as many other members of the Chapel, took an active interest in local politics, and the existence of the cemetery in the town is just one reminder of Lawrence Scott's ability to match his vision with practice.

There have been a number of eminent ministers who served the Chapel over the years. These include Rev. Derek Smith who, in 1987-1988, served as the President of the General Assembly of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches, the highest honour anyone in the Unitarian movement can receive.

Perhaps the most noteable milestone in recent years was the decision to sell the Wilton Street Chapel building to a property developer who was seeking land to build a modern shopping centre. The trustees of the Chapel agreed to the sale as the Chapel needed substantial roof repairs and the local environment had deteriorated. So, on Easter Sunday 2003 the first service was held in the new premises, now to be known as the New Chapel. Though it was sad to say goodbye to the old building the new premises have proved to be a great success. They are as practical as they are aesthetically pleasing. Thus, a new era began. Today the congregation, at home in a wonderful environment, looks to the future with hope as they live out their Unitarian values.