Tuesday, 26 August 2014

The Ark

A wet bank holiday Monday could only mean one thing - a trip to an abandoned Synagogue! According to my research on t'net, this synagogue is architecturally by far the most important and innovatory 20th century synagogue in England is the finest surviving synagogue in Europe dating from the inter-war period. It also has important socio-historic  significance as representing a last late optimistic cultural expression of European Jewry before the Holocaust.
It is a Grade II listed building in the Art Deco style, designed by Alfred Ernest Shennan.
During World War II it was used as a refuge for people who had lost their homes and possessions. It was founded in 1937 and closed on 5th January 2008. . Its decline was partly due to the falling Jewish population in the city, which over the last century went from around 11,000 to just 3,000.
I visited this building with my usual Urbex friend.  A synagogue was a first for both of us. Onto the interior. Once we were inside, we made our way to a basement area which had a large function room with old fashioned kitchens leading off. The function room was very very dark so no decent photographs of that! We eventually stumbled upon some stairs in the darkness leading to the main staircases.


These staircases were also quite dark, hence the use of a strong flash. Just off the main landing we entered what appeared to be one of the Rabbi's rooms. Whoever used the room appeared to like a drink and possibly needed the use of this wheelchair after he had had his drink!


The Art Deco windows were beautiful, if a little bowed with age.

               I believe that these are possibly used for the storage of scripture after the worship.



 I don't read Hebrew but it states that this must be recited before the reading.
Then on into the Main Sanctuary. The interior was all carved light oak woodwork.
And views from the balcony on the next floor up.

The seats were all numbered. Many had names on too.

The carpeted stairs to the Bimah.

This is the flooring. It has been carefully taken up and piled into neat piles.

                                         The view from the Bimah that the Rabbi would have.

The Bimah from the front.

                                                     Religious scripture - all in Hebrew.

                                                      A chair with a chain hanging from it.

                                                     The scrolls laid out on the Bimah.

This place is in remarkably good condition, considering how long it has been out of use. There was none of the usual damp smell and very little had been trashed. There was no graffiti.

                                        At the other end of the balcony we found the organ.

Then onto the office. It was as if people had just left in a hurry - paperwork, pamphlets and books littered all the desks and surfaces.




The good news is that this building is going to have over £50,000 poured into it, to try to restore it. Apparently, it will be removed from the Buildings at risk register and will once more be used by the local community. Although used for what purpose is not clear yet. A happy ending for a beautiful old building.

No comments:

Post a Comment