Oulton was one of the first places in the country where what became known as Methodism started and prospered. The founder of the movement, John Wesley, first visited the village in 1745 where he met and preached to a group of his followers. In his journal he noted that a small society was already in existence. “Friday, October 18th 1745. At one I preached at Oulton. The little company there do indeed love as brethren. I divided the residue of my time between Leeds and Birstall.”
Three years later he made another visit and the entry in his journal appears to refer to the religious trials and tribulations of the community rather than the actual weather: “Saturday, August 12th 1748. At one I preached at Oulton where likewise all is now calm, after a violent storm of several weeks, wherein many were beaten, and wounded, and outraged various ways; but none moved from their steadfastness. In the evening I preached at Armley to many who want a storm, being quite unnerved by constant sunshine.”
According to a history of Methodism in the Rothwell area published in 1913 by the editor of the Rothwell Times, Andrew Marshall, the first chapel in Oulton was built on land adjoining Calverley Road. It was a small oblong stone building with a gallery on three sides and a square box pulpit against the end wall. It was referred to in a deed from 1826 when it was conveyed to a group of trustees but must have been in existence for a number of years before that.
The early chapel was used as a school and chapel for several generations then in 1873 a group of Methodist “gentlemen” who had moved to live at Oulton raised £2,500 to build a larger chapel and school on the same site and an adjoining piece of land which they acquired.
The foundation stone was laid on 17 October 1874 by R.B. Mackie of Wakefield and the new Wesleyan Chapel was officially opened on Thursday 16 December 1875 by Alderman Henry Rowland Marsden, the ex-Mayor of Leeds who was part of the congregation. Others involved were rag merchant Matthias Shann, Miss Woodhead, Miss Farrer, William Flockton who was a surveyor for the Liverpool & London & Globe Insurance Company, tailor John Walker, and Calverley land agent John Farrer who “assisted financially.”
During the Second World War the chapel and schoolroom were requistioned by the government and used as a food store but the fabric of the building was damaged. After a lengthy debate the trustees decided to sell the property with a view to erecting a new chapel but that never came about. It was finally sold in 1949 to a Leeds businessman and became a paint factory.