Sunderland’s listed shul is up for sale

The Sunderland Synagogue building has been put up for sale, three years after the congregation disbanded.

Its owners, the Shlomo Memorial Fund, purchased the Grade II listed building in 2000 with the intention that the Jewish community would use it for as long as possible. The final Shabbat service was held in March 2006.

It had been hoped that the Gateshead community would also utilise the premises, but no interest had been expressed.

Designed in the 1920s by Newcastle Jewish architect Marcus Glass, the Ryhope Road shul has been a target for vandalism since its closure. Former treasurer Ivor Saville said that windows had been smashed and the adjacent cheder seriously damaged by a fire. The sale of the site was “very sad. It is the end of an era.”

The shul is on the market for £295,000 and the estate agent reported “a lot of interest. It is an unusual piece of property.”

Jewish Heritage UK director Sharman Kadish visited the building recently as part of English Heritage’s Heritage at Risk programme. “It is one of the few buildings left by Marcus Glass,” she said. “I hope they find a buyer who will appreciate its history.”

Mr Saville reported that the Sunderland community had shrunk from a peak of 1,500 to just 25 people.

After the synagogue’s closure, the scrolls, library books and fittings were passed on to congregations in Newcastle, Manchester and London. A burial society is the community’s only remaining institution.

Last updated: 2:55pm, October 9 2009