Do you remember a synagogue in Pontypool?

Do you remember a synagogue in Pontypool?

I recently received an email from C.J.Welsh who is researching his family history. He’s found some interesting sites about Jewish families in Wales. Here is a quote from one of the sites (JCR-UK) in question:

‘On page 46 of the book edited by Ursula R.Q. Henriques, The Jews of South Wales, Historical Studies (1993) there is a map of Jewish settlements. Those places which had a synagogue are underlined. It appears to be complete but  for short periods at any rate two other places had synagogues; these were at Pontypool and at Neath. I was alerted to these two by letters printed in the Jewish Chronicle, in 1867 and 1868. They were written by Henry D. Marks, of Cardiff, and were based on his visits to various places in South Wales.  In the first letter, referring to Pontypool, printed in the JC on 1 March 1867, p. 6, he noted that  the congregation was very small ‘consisting, in fact, of three families only, with sufficient males to form a “minyan” .’  He went on: ‘I am proud to say they consecrated a place of worship for themselves last week, and have engaged the services of Rev. D. Rosenthal, who acts as Hazan [in Hebrew] and Shochet [in Hebrew], and Teacher to their children’. The consecration took place on 10 February  1867. The writer, Henry Marks, noted that the opening of the synagogue was due to the efforts of  Rev. Nathan Jacobs of Cardiff who also gave ‘a most thrilling and appropriate sermon on the occasion’, which was reported in a copy of  ‘a local periodical’ which he had included with his letter to the editor. This was the Pontypool Free Press of 16 February – a copy of which I obtained through the good offices of the Archivist of the  Gwent Record Office. It contained a very full report of the consecration, amounting to several thousand words. The building was one which had been occupied by Mr Philip Hambleton, a builder and farmer, who appears in the 1851 Census as living in Wain House. The newspaper report stated that the two upper rooms had been ‘thrown into one’  and in the centre was a reading desk, opposite which was the Ark containing a Sepher Torah. ‘A portion of the room is railed off for the accommodation of the female members’.


C.J.Welsh also says:

“The Census records of Jewish families in Pontypool at that time throw up the surnames Solomon (pawnbroker), Bloom (pawnbroker), Jacobs (jewellery pedlar), and Crawcour.”


If any visitors have any of these surnames or can remember anything about the Pontypool synagogue, please make a comment or email me. I just wonder whether Wain House might have been in the Wainfelin area.

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5 Responses to “Do you remember a synagogue in Pontypool?”

  1. oldponty Says:

    I think the synagogue was near Wainfelin road. Solomon Bloom was a Pawnbroker on George Street, there was also a Pit Owner and Coal Merchant called Habbakuk in Pontnewynydd

  2. Jane greenhalgh Says:

    I am not familiar with the names of the Jewish families mentioned or of a synagogue in Pontypool, but I do remember a gentlemans outfitters at the bottom of High St Abersychan being owned by a Mr Robinson who was Jewish. This was in the 1950s.

    • CJ Says:

      Often, when Jews left/fled Europe, they changed their names in order to “fit in”, or avoid anti-semitism. Mr. Robinson was most likely Mr. Rabinowitz, before coming to Abersychan!

  3. levant29 Says:

    I was led to believe That the first big house opposite George street school the upstairs rooms were turned into a Synagogue, I read of this ones but cant remember where it came from,

  4. brian walker Says:

    I remember reading an article in an old newspaper about a Jewish meeting room in Wigan House Wainfelin. Wigan House is situated between Fowler St and Campell St.

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