Wales' oldest synagogue to become apartments

By Jessica Elgot, November 18, 2009

Wales’s oldest synagogue is to be converted into apartments if planning permission is approved by councillors.

The Grade II listed building, on Bryntirion Road, Merthyr Tydfil, was built in the 1870s. It is currently empty and has been a target for vandals.

The neo-Gothic building has been used as a Christian community centre and a gym since the synagogue closed in 1983. It is thought to be the only synagogue with a Welsh dragon as part of its architecture.

Now, Warwickshire company Choice Circle plans to turn the synagogue into eight apartments, leaving the outside of the building intact as a historic landmark.

One of the conditions of planning permission is that the synagogue’s Magen David stained glass windows are repaired but not replaced.

Council planning manager Norman Davies has recommended that councillors approve the project, which will go before the committee later today.

The Jewish population in Wales is currently just over 2,000, having almost halved since the beginning of the 20th century. Merthyr Tydfil has just 16 Jews, according to the 2001 census.

Swansea Hebrew Congregation closed this year with less than 20 active members. The congregation has continued to meet in a hired hall.

Just under half the Jewish population of Wales live in Cardiff, which has an Orthodox and a Reform synagogue.

Last updated: 11:11am, October 14 2010