Plans for a Cardiff Synagogue

The Synagogue on Cathedral Road, Cardiff • Jewish History Association of South Wales

This treasure from the Jewish History Association of South Wales is a selection from a set of plans drawn up by the architect Delissa Joseph for the synagogue built in Cathedral Road, Cardiff, in 1897. These included ambitious plans to add classrooms and residences for the minister, reader and beadle at the rear of the building. However, the synagogue was soon in financial difficulties and these were never built.

This is a fascinating extract from the Jewish Museum London‘s Jewish Lives website about architect Delissa Joseph:

Delissa Joseph was born in London. He was the nephew of N.S. Joseph, the first architect for the United Synagogue (founded in 1870) and cousin of Nathan Joseph, the architect of Shell-Mex House on London’s Embankment. Delissa would follow the family profession and after Durham House School and Jew’s College, he opened his architectural practice in 1882. He was known for synagogues such as Hammersmith, which opened in 1890 and of which he would become a member; Hampstead, which opened 1892 and is now Grade II listed, and New Cross (1905) which was destroyed by German bombing in 1940. He married artist Lily Delissa Joseph (née Solomon) in 1887 and publicly supported her suffragette activities. In 1897 his synagogues in Hackney and Cardiff opened and his architectural plans were given the honour of being displayed at the Royal Academy in the same year. Joseph was well-known for designing superstructures over London Underground booking halls. They include Moorgate Station Chambers, Oxford Circus House and the Coburg Court Hotel (1907) above Queensway, which is now the Hilton London Hyde Park Hotel. Joseph also designed numerous mansion blocks and, ahead of his time, lobbied for taller buildings in London, originating the trend for the ever-rising London skyline of the 21st century.

The Synagogue closed in 1989, and the building has now been converted into office space. Here’s an image of the building today © Jewish History Association of South Wales:

To read more about the synagogue, including some fascinating oral history extracts, visit this page on the People’s Collection Wales platform.


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