It’s Bangor and maps as Welsh Jewish archive goes on display

'The city and surrounding areas have had a rich Jewish history'


An exhibition, map and app showcasing Bangor’s Jewish history was launched on Sunday at the Welsh city’s Arts Initiative Gallery.

The display celebrates the presence of Jews in Bangor from medieval times to the Second World War and beyond and the opening attracted a turnout of 50, including a descendant of a Bangor Jewish family.

Speakers included project supervisor Professor Nathan Abrams of Bangor University’s School of Music and Media and Gareth Roberts of the Menter Fachwen Walk and Discover Project, who assisted with the creation of the map.

Local residents are being encouraged to share their memories of Bangor Jewry, including those behind the well-known stores, Wartski’s and Pollecoff’s.

“The City of Bangor and surrounding areas have had a rich Jewish history,” Prof Abrams said.

“But as the community has declined and dissolved and our high street has been transformed, not many people know of this history. It’s right there in front of our eyes but hidden in plain sight. This map, app and exhibition not only records this history — it also helps you to find it.”

Jews fleeing persecution in Eastern Europe — and wishing to better themselves in Britain — moved to Bangor in large numbers in the late 19th century. As the community grew, a synagogue and kosher butcher opened.

There was a further influx around the Second World War, both from evacuees and those escaping the Nazis.

They integrated well into local life, learning Welsh and participating in Eisteddfodau (festivals of music, literature and performance).

Some of them, like Isidore Wartski, had a transformative effect on the city, through initiatives such as housing projects and the dropping of tolls on the Menai Bridge.

Prof Abrams hopes the archive venture — funded by the university — can be rolled out to cover other places of Jewish settlement in North Wales, namely Colwyn Bay, Llandudno and Rhyl. But that would require further funding.

Share via

Want more from the JC?

To continue reading, we just need a few details...

Want more from
the JC?

To continue reading, we just
need a few details...

Get the best news and views from across the Jewish world Get subscriber-only offers from our partners Subscribe to get access to our e-paper and archive