1874 Seacroft Methodist Chapel was originally constructed—site close to where John Wesley preached in the open air on Seacroft village green.
1910 The vestry and organ loft was added to the back of the Church and the organ installed by Wordsworth and Co. 104 years later, when Mark Wood was restoring the organ for Chapel FM he found his grandfather’s signature in the organ loft. Hopefully the Wood family will be able to keep the organ in good condition for us for another 100 years!
1980 A new extension was built, with a hall for activities including clubs for parishioners and young people in the area.
1986 Heads Together Physical Theatre was established. Originally a touring theatre company with a particular focus on participatory work, including a commitment to working with people with physical and learning disabilities.
1996 Adrian Sinclair, Heads Together founder, was now working with Linda Strudwick in the neighbourhood where they lived—the Methleys in Chapel Allerton. Working with a strong local community group they coordinated a wide range of neighbourhood-based events aimed to encourage people to reclaim the streets and make them places where people came first. Including in 1996 when they laid 800 square metres of turf on the street to create the best-ever urban village green and national publicity as part of the campaign to create Home Zones.
1998 Heads Together relaunches as Heads Together Productions Limited; a community arts company delivering a wide range of creative projects across Yorkshire and beyond. Apart from the community based work, Heads Together has been leading on a range of creative work within education, including at Shipley College. The work there is nominated as a “model of outstanding practice” by the European Horizon Programme. Heads Together starts working in partnership with John Smeaton High School as part of the Creative Arts Partnership in Education.
2000 Linda Strudwick brings her skills from previous employment with the Community Radio Association to create Heads Together’s first ever venture into radio—Methleys Festival Radio broadcasts for two weeks on FM from the stationery cupboard of a local estate agents and is a great success
2002 Following intense campaigning the law is changed nationally and the Methleys becomes one of the first home zones in the country. All that creativity has led to a permanent change, what the company calls Creativity with Purpose…
2003 Whilst half the company are working on a film project in Brisbane, Australia; the rest are working with Year 8 students at John Smeaton towards the first-ever FM broadcast of a new community radio station—East Leeds FM. The first broadcast takes place out of the back of Tescos in Seacroft. The purpose—to create better links between the school and parents/families in the community—a concern highlighted in a recent OFSTED inspection at the school.
2004 East Leeds FM could have been just a one-off project, but there was now a core group of about 30 people, young and old, who wanted more. But how to go about it—particularly to include people from across East Leeds. We decided to broadcast again, but to try and find a different location. In April 2004 we were offered the opportunity to use a building of St Teresa’s Church in Cross Gates. Good Neighbours were about to set up there—but we were able to use the building before they moved in. Another really successful broadcast—16 hours a day. There was no stopping the momentum now!
2005 Unity Radio. A broadcast with a difference—a political theme. Working with Kick It Out the national anti-racist football organisation, we ran a week-long broadcast at Roundhay school with a range of programming but a particular focus on issues for refugees and asylum seekers. The week ended with us hosting the national refugee football tournament.
2006 Three weeks; three locations—East End Park, Lincoln Green and Roundhay and a winter broadcast in Gipton
2007 Digital broadcasting meant that we could look at developing regular broadcasts, monthly, weekly…but not without a home. East Leeds Homes offered us use of an old rent office at Ramshead Hill. It had been disused and when we first moved in, every window in the building was broken—but we made it home, created our first bespoke studio and started developing regular training as well as broadcasting.
2008 This was our first broadcast where we could really focus on the digital—streaming through the website came into its own with our new website created by Common Agency. We were well ahead of the game with a bespoke commenting system and everything available for listen again—well before iPlayer was conceived.
2009 Although we were happy to have the old rent office, commonly known as ‘Boggart’, we didn’t see it as a long term option—it had no wheelchair access and it wasn’t in an easily accessible location within East Leeds. In 2009 we met Barbara and Frank who told us about Seacroft Methodist Church. The old Chapel was no longer being used and with no power or heating, it was starting to decay. But it was still beautiful! We wanted to do something there—what about 24 hours of music; all live, all local, non-stop. The first ELFM Musicathon took place at the Old Seacroft Chapel.
2010 In April we launched the ELFM Next Generation programme—weekly training in live music and songwriting for local young people. Over the years this has developed into an intensive programme covering music, broadcasting and creative writing/spoken word with the option to achieve nationally accredited Arts Award qualification. The young people were also involved with our second Musicathon as we worked with architects and started to develop plans for re-developing the old Chapel, to save the beautiful building from eventual disintegration and to create a new home for ELFM
2011 More musicathon (Live@Chapel), more plans, first grants
2012 Live@Chapel 2, More grants
2013 January Green light—Final approval; Design team appointed; final designs; Builders appointed. Next Gen trip to Japan
2014 Chapel FM launched September 2014 Musicathon
2015 Next Gen programme extended, first summer FM broadcast. Pro Yorkshire Award winners
2016 Love Arts Award for our work on mental wellbeing. First Writing on Air Festival. Selected as part of the Tandem Cultural Exchange programme with partner organisations in Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany.
2017 Continued Tandem partnership despite Brexit decision. Developed Donut network of small-scale cultural venues outside of Leeds city centre. Worked towards on programming group of Leeds bid to become European Capital of Culture in 2023. Brexit negotiations put an end to that possibility… Started developing an allotment at the back of Chapel FM as part of the Grow…Cook…Eat project