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Greenbank Drive Synagogue

Synagogue
Liverpool New Hebrew Congregation, Greenbank Drive, Sefton Park, L17 1AN

Basic Information

The Liverpool Hebrew Congregation was founded in the C18 at the Stanley Street/Cumberland Street Synagogue. Over the years it moved to various premises before construction of a purpose-built synagogue at Seel Street in 1807. A schism in 1838 led to the division of the congregation into the Old Hebrew Congregation (which remained at Seel St until new premises were constructed at Princes Road in 1872-4) and the New Hebrew Congregation.

The latter congregation established a synagogue in a warehouse on Hanover Street and subsequently in a building on Pilgrim Street. A purpose-built synagogue was constructed at Hope Place in 1857. After WWI and by the mid 1920s the Jewish population began to move away from the city centre to the wealthier suburbs (in particular Sefton Park) and fewer members of the congregation lived within walking distance of Hope Place. School classes were established by the New Hebrew (Hope Place) Congregation in the Sefton Park area and in 1928 no.321 Smithdown Road was acquired as a place of Hebrew Education. A small congregation also began holding religious services there, which became known as the Sefton Park Hebrew Congregation.

In 1928 the Hope Place Congregation began looking for a new site to build a larger synagogue and in 1935 the site of Greenbank Drive near to the entrance to Sefton Park was chosen and the lease for the site obtained from the City Corporation. In 1937 on completion of Greenbank Drive Synagogue the main migration of the Hope Place congregation took place. The congregation re-joined with the Sefton Park Hebrew Congregation and the two reverted to their original name of the New Hebrew Congregation. The foundation stone for Greenbank Drive Synagogue was laid on 14 June 1936 by Baron Tobias Globe attended by the Chief Rabbi of the British Empire, Dr J H Hertz. The building was consecrated on August 15 1937 and opened by Professor Henry Cohen (a member of the congregation and later Lord Cohen of Birkenhead).

The basement area of the building was originally used as a youth centre and the synagogue had its own scout troop (the 22nd Wavertree). During the blitz in 1941 Greenbank Drive Synagogue was used as a reception centre for bombed out families in Liverpool and held a non-Jewish service at Christmas. It was also used as a social centre during the war by American Jewish GIs stationed at an air base in Burtonwood, Warrington. After the war they presented a plaque to the congregation (displayed in the entrance hall).

The building suffered two fires. In May 1959 a fire started by a burglar destroyed the Ark and Torah scrolls and part of the roof structure. The building was restored at a cost of £50,000 and re-consecrated in 1961. In 1965, a further fire occurred in two first floor offices behind the ladies' gallery and was confined to that area.

The building ceases active use on January 5 2008.

Sources:
Kadish S. 2006. Jewish Heritage in England: An Architectural Guide.
Historic England.

Build completed:
1807

Places

Addresses

Address:
Liverpool New Hebrew Congregation, Greenbank Drive, Sefton Park, L17 1AN Liverpool
L17 1AN

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