Although there were Jews living in Cardiff in the 18th century, a Jewish community was not established until the first half of the 19th century. The town’s first permanent synagogue opened at East Terrace, which now forms the southern end of Churchill Way, in 1858. In the 1880s, part of the congregation seceded from East Street and established a separate synagogue at Edward Place, off North Edward Street, where the Capitol Centre and Churchill House now stand. By 1894, the East Terrace congregation had outgrown its building and a site was purchased in Cathedral Road to erect a new synagogue. The chosen location reflected, in part, the growing prosperity of many Jewish families, who had now moved from the Docks area to Canton and Riverside.
The new synagogue was opened on Wednesday 12 May 1897 in the presence of the United Kingdom Chief Rabbi, Dr Hermann Adler. Designed by London architect, Delissa Joseph, it could accommodate 241 men on the ground floor and 158 women in the gallery, with provision for future expansion.
In 1941, the two Cardiff congregations agreed to merge as the Cardiff United Synagogue. After the Second World War, many Jewish families moved to the Penylan and Cyncoed areas, which led to the foundation of a new synagogue off Ty Gwyn Road in 1955 (this re-located to Cyncoed Gardens in 2003). The Cathedral Road synagogue continued to function until 1989, when it finally closed. Now renamed Temple Court, the interior has been adapted for use as office space.
David Webb, Glamorgan Archives Volunteer
- Mary Traynor Collection [D1093/2/15]
- Cardiff Jewish Community Records and Papers, commemorative booklet to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the opening of Cathedral Road Synagogue, 1957 [DJR/5/16]
- Cardiff Times and South Wales Weekly News, 15 May 1897