Jewish history up for sale

Sunderland's last synagogue could be given a new lease of life.

The listed building in Ryhope Road, Hendon, has been put up for sale after closing because of dwindling numbers of worshippers.

Its owners decided to put the former place of worship on the market after it had stood empty since holding its final service three years ago.

Designed in the 1920s by Marcus K Glass, a little-known Jewish architect from Newcastle, the grade-two listed building has survived a number of vandal attacks since its closure.

Fire almost destroyed a smaller school attached to the main building, which is not listed.

But estate agents Knight Frank say news of the sale has already sparked interest, with an asking price of 295,000 to buy or 27,500 annual rent.

Simon Haggie from the Newcastle-based firm said: "There have been a couple of viewings, and more next week. Sometimes quirky buildings stimulate more interest, which can be just curiosity."

He added that it was possible the synagogue could become a home.

"It could be a residential development. You would have to have a particular taste in buildings, as it is very tall with a vaulted ceiling, but I don't rule anything out."

But he stressed that the building's owners – a Jewish charitable trust – would show "sensitivity" when considering the plans of potential buyers.

And because of its listed building status, it would be protected from plans to change it dramatically.

Stained glass windows are still in place at the synagogue, which also has its original wooden doors and flooring, and an entrance lobby with original staircases, leading to the upper galleries where women would worship.

The building also contains a prayer hall and dark oak pews.

For more information, contact Knight Frank on 221 2211.

A place of worship since 1768

Sunderland's first Jewish communities are thought to have formed in 1768.

One of the first synagogues was built in Moor Street, in the city's East End, around 1861.

A Hebrew school was later founded, and kosher meat was available.

The Moor Street synagogue celebrated its jubilee in 1911 and the Jewish community celebrated by raising funds to build the new synagogue in Ryhope Road, where 250 families were members.

After it closed, religious artefacts, including precious Scrolls of the Law, were distributed to synagogues around the UK.