Salem Chapel has had many changes over the years; both the building and the occupants have evolved with the changing times. The origin of the Salem congregation, originally styled ‘Independents’ rather than the more formal ‘Congregationalists’, goes back to 1756 when an array of Presbyterian-inclined sects worshipped in the White Chapel opposite the site that was to become Salem Chapel.
The popularity of the then-rural chapel’s service grew beyond the capacity of the chapel and the congregation moved to a new site across the city. A new congregation took over the Salem Chapel and expanded it to include a school - the neo-classical building was extended to accommodate 1,000 children.
By the second half of the 20th century, the congregation was in decline and the building started to take on other purposes, including helping the unemployed and special needs services. The slum clearance of the post-war era further dwindled the congregation and the chapel was finally sold in 2001.
The renowned psychologist and writer Reverend Harry Guntrip undertook the last sermon. Harry Guntrip was highly regarded for his work with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a cause supported by Salem Chapel today.