Listed Building

The only legal part of the listing under the Planning (Listing Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997 is the address/name of site. Addresses and building names may have changed since the date of listing – see 'About Listed Buildings' below for more information. The further details below the 'Address/Name of Site' are provided for information purposes only.

Address/Name of Site

Former Langside Synagogue, 125 Niddrie Road, excluding the later single-storey, flat-roofed addition to the rear, GlasgowLB52561

Status: Designated

Documents

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Summary

Category
C
Date Added
14/09/2020
Local Authority
Glasgow
Planning Authority
Glasgow
Burgh
Glasgow
NGR
NS 57940 62570
Coordinates
257940, 662570

Description

A two-storey, roughly T-plan former synagogue designed by Waddell & Young, 1926-1927, with interior features by Harris Berkowitch, cabinetmaker. The building incorporates a mixture of neo-Romanesque and neoclassical styles. It is located on Niddrie Road, near the intersection of Queen's Drive, a principal road through the residential area of Crosshill. The principal elevation is of coursed rubble sandstone with ashlar panels and dressings. The other elevations are rendered.

The principal (northwest) elevation to Niddrie Road is symmetrical and has two-storeys and five bays. The central bay features an ashlar panel with an arched entrance with moulded surround. The gilded Hebrew inscription over the doorway is from: Ezekiel 11:16. The central open pedimented entrance bay has a two-leaf, timber door with a decorative stained-glass fanlight in a segmented arched doorway. Above at the first floor is a large transomed and mullioned rectangular window (with two lights to the lower section and three lights to the upper section) set within a tall round-arched moulded surround which has a Star of David carved into an ashlar panel. The penultimate flanking bays are of coursed rubble sandstone and feature rectangular openings at the ground floor and arched openings at the first floor contained within a two-storey, round-arched ashlar surround. The outer bays are rectangular ashlar panels with pairs of round-arched windows at the ground floor and moulded wall tablets at the first floor.

The side (southwest and northeast) elevations are two-storey, four-bay with rectangular openings on the ground floor and round-arched openings at the first floor. The rear (southeast) elevation features an oriel window at the top of the gable and two long round-arched windows below.

The openings are predominantly stained glass and feature a motif of three or four roundels each containing a Star of David. The windows at the ground floor on the principal elevation are currently boarded over (2020). The roof is pitched and slated with roof-lights spanning the length of the prayer hall.

The interior was seen in 2020. It has a prayer hall with timber galleries on three sides carried on octagonal columns. There are carved timber pews, some of which have been removed at the northwest and northeast sides of the first floor gallery. Clerestory windows run the full length of the hall and there is a timber panelled, arched ceiling with timber trusses. At the rear of the first floor gallery there are a series of rooms separated by timber and glass panels.

Iron railings surround the principal façade to Niddrie Road with entrance gates decorated with Star of David symbols.

Statement of Special Interest

The former Langside Synagogue meets the criteria of special architectural or historic interest for the following reasons:

  • The simple classical exterior form of the building, typical of synagogue architecture, is largely unaltered.
  • The use of traditional Eastern European folk-art style elements in the interior is rare and of interest for its association with the synagogue's early 20th century congregation.
  • Its setting, within an area of Govanhill with a high concentration of later 19th century places of worship, is well retained.
  • It is rare as one of a small number of purpose-built synagogues of which few now survive in Scotland.
  • It is of significant historical interest for what it can tell us about the development of the Jewish community in Glasgow in the early 20th century.

In accordance with Section 1 (4A) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997 the following are excluded from the listing: the later single-storey, flat-roofed addition to the rear.

Historical development

The Langside Hebrew Congregation was formed in 1915 and established a synagogue on Langside Road, Govanhill. By 1925 the congregation had outgrown the building on Langside Road and funds were raised to build a larger synagogue. On a nearby site at 1 Cromwell Road (now 125 Niddrie Road) the foundation stone was laid during a ceremony in May 1926 (Dundee Evening Telegraph, 3 May 1926). The synagogue was opened in April 1927 (The Scotsman, 4 April 1927).

The Langside Synagogue is shown on the 1933 Ordnance Survey Map (1:2,500) with a T-plan footprint. By the time of the 1951 Ordnance Survey Map (1:2,500) the building is shown with small rectangular additions to the southwest and northwest elevations. A larger single-storey, rectangular plan extension was added to the rear (southeast) elevation in the mid-20th century. This addition appears on the 1961-7 Ordnance Survey Map (1:2,500). The footprint of the building today (2020) is substantially unchanged from that shown on this map.

The synagogue closed in 2014. The building was sold in 2019 and some of the interior fixtures including the Ark and bimah were removed in late 2019 and taken to the Scottish Jewish Archives Centre at the Garnethill Synagogue, Glasgow.

Architectural interest

Design

The former Langside Synagogue is designed in a simple neo-Romanesque and neoclassical style which is typical for this ecclesiastical building type and date which tended towards pre-Christian era architectural designs. The use of Romanesque motifs is common in late 19th to early 20th century synagogues in Scotland and are used extensively and in a more elaborate style at the Garnethill Synagogue (LB33040) and the Queen's Park Synagogue (LB33040) in Glasgow. A limited amount of neoclassical architectural details to the exterior include the open pediment and rectangular ashlar outer bays of the principal elevation with its simplified form arched windows and moulded tablets.

The T-plan of the former synagogue is unusual as the building type in Scotland more often features semi-circular apses at the rear elevation.

The interior arrangement of the former Langside Synagogue has been altered by the removal of the Ark and bimah however a number of original fixtures and fittings still survive including gilded Star of David Motifs on the timber galleries, stained glass windows, carved timber pews and the timber panelled ceiling. The interior of the synagogue has been described as 'rare hidden gem' with decoration and fixtures typical of traditional Eastern European folk-art style (Kadish, Jewish Heritage in Britain and Ireland, p 240). A number of the interior fixtures were carved by Lithuanian-born cabinetmaker Harris Berkovitch (c. 1876–1956), who was a member of the Langside Hebrew congregation. Interior features including the Ark and decorative clock carved by Berkovitch, seen in images from 2005 (CANMORE SC 1370096, SC 1196961), were removed from the Synagogue in late 2019.

Interior decoration including woodcarving and wall-painting in folk-art style is characteristic of Eastern European synagogues particularly in Poland, Ukraine, and Romania. The use of this traditional Eastern European style is rare in Scotland and the interior of the former Langside Synagogue is the only known example. The choice of the interior design is significant because it reflects the traditions of members of its Eastern European congregation in the early 20th century.

The architects of the synagogue, the Glasgow-based practice Waddell & Young, worked almost exclusively on religious buildings carrying out re-ordering schemes in existing 18th and 19th century churches for the Church of Scotland. The Langside Synagogue is one of the few original buildings that the practice designed.

A single-storey extension was added to the rear (southeast) elevation of the synagogue in the mid-20th century. Apart from later extension, the synagogue's exterior form is substantially unaltered since its original construction in 1927 and the simple character of the principal elevation with its neo-Romanesque and neoclassical elements is retained. The loss of some of the larger carved interior fixtures including the Ark and bimah has affected the level of interest of the building. However, elements of the traditional Eastern European folk-art style interior still survive, and its rarity and specific association with the local congregation is of special interest in listing terms.

Setting

The former Langside Synagogue is located in a predominantly residential area surrounding the north of Queen's Park in Govanhill, south of Glasgow city centre. The area known as Crosshill developed rapidly from the mid-19th century as a suburb of tenements and terraced houses and has been designated as a conservation area.

The building is set near the intersection of Queen's Drive and Niddrie Road which in the late 19th and early 20th century was a focal point for religious life in the area. The synagogue is surrounded to the south and west by later 19th century churches of various denominations including a former Free Church, Baptist Church and a former Swedenborgian Church. While the neighbouring churches which front Queen's Drive are larger and more prominent in the streetscape, the former Langside Synagogue forms a group with these religious buildings that can been seen looking northeast at the junction of Queen's Drive and Niddrie Road.

Apart from the construction of a block of flats to the northeast of the synagogue in the mid-20th century the immediate and wider setting of the building is substantially unchanged since it opened in 1927.

The survival of the former Langside Synagogue's early 20th century setting, including the group of the neighbouring places of worship, contributes to our understanding of its function as a place of worship. The setting of the synagogue also reflects the development of the Jewish Community in Glasgow during this period. As the Jewish population grew rapidly in the early 20th century some communities moved out of the city centre to more affluent residential areas and suburbs in the south. Alongside the former Queen's Park Synagogue located in Battlefield, south of Queen's Park, the establishment of the Langside Synagogue at the north of Queen's Park in Crosshill is an example of this and contributes to the interest of the building in listing terms.

Historic interest

Age and rarity

The former Langside Synagogue is one of a small number of purpose-built synagogues to survive in Scotland and is among a small number built overall. The first purpose-built synagogue in Scotland, Garnethill Synagogue, located at 129 Hill Street dates from 1877-1879 and is listed at category A.

A small number of synagogues dating to the interwar period survive. As well as the former Langside Synagogue, a former synagogue at Queens Park, Glasgow dating from 1924-1927 and the Edinburgh Hebrew Congregation at 4 Salisbury Road, Edinburgh dating from 1929-1932 both survive and are listed at category B. The Giffnock Old Synagogue, now the Maccabi and Youth Centre at 1 May Terrace, Giffnock was built in 1938 but has been altered and enclosed by later additions. Two purpose-built synagogues were built in the 1970s; the Giffnock and Newlands Synagogue in 1974 and the Dundee Synagogue at 9 St Mary's Place, Dundee in 1978-1979.

Social historical interest

The Jewish community in Glasgow was established in the 1820s. During the early days of the community, Sabbath and Holidays were celebrated in a small rented room in the High Street in the city centre. A formal congregation was established around 1829 with a synagogue in the Old Post Office Court, Trongate. The community grew steadily in the 19th century, reaching around 800 by the time the first purpose-built synagogue in Scotland was opened at Garnethill in 1879.

In the later 19th century and early 20th century many Jews moved to Scotland fleeing persecution in the Russian Empire, with later generations moving, as a result of Nazi persecution in Germany and Eastern Europe. A large community was established south of the Clyde in the Gorbals which supported a number of synagogues. The first purpose-built synagogue to be built in the Gorbals was the Great Synagogue on South Portland Street, opened in 1901.

In the early 20th century, as communities became more prosperous, Jews also began to settle in residential areas south of the city centre such as Govanhill, Battlefield and Shawlands. It is in this context that the Langside Hebrew Congregation was established in 1915, building a new synagogue for their expanding congregation in 1926. The Jewish population in Glasgow reached its height around 1939 with about 15,000 Jewish people living in the city (South Glasgow Heritage Environment Trust).

The former Langside Synagogue is of significant social historical interest for what it can tell us about the Jewish community in Glasgow in the early 20th century. The Jewish population in Glasgow increased considerably during this period with congregations across the city from Garnethill to the Gorbals. With the movement of many Jews further out of the city by the mid to later 20th century, there was an eventual loss of all the synagogues in the Gorbals, an area that had earlier been a centre of Jewish life in Glasgow. A large amount of the architectural heritage of the Jewish Community in the city has therefore been lost. The survival of the Langside Synagogue is important for what it can tell us about the development of the Jewish community in Glasgow and the movement of these communities in the south of the city in the early 20th century.

Association with people or events of national importance

There is no association with a person or event of national importance.

References

Bibliography

Canmore: http://canmore.org.uk/ CANMORE ID 145839

Maps

Ordnance Survey (1933) 1:2,500 map. Southampton. Ordnance Survey.

Ordnance Survey (1951) 1:1,250 map. Southampton. Ordnance Survey.

Ordnance Survey (1961-7) 1:1.250 map. Southampton. Ordnance Survey.

Printed Sources

Dundee Evening Telegraph, (3 May 1926) Dedication of Glasgow Synagogue, p. 5.

Kadish, S., 1996, Building Jerusalem: Jewish architecture in Britain, London: Vallentine Mitchell.

Kadish, S., 2015, Jewish heritage in Britain and Ireland: an architectural guide, Swindon: Historic England.

The Scotsman, (4 April 1927) New Synagogue for Glasgow, p 10.

Online Sources

Dictionary of Scottish Architects, entry for Waddell & Young, http://www.scottisharchitects.org.uk/architect_full.php?id=202137 [accessed 21.07.2020].

Jewish Communities and Records, entries for Glasgow Jewish Community, https://www.jewishgen.org/jcr-uk/Community/glasgow.htm [accessed 23.07.2020].

Scottish Jewish Archives Centre, https://www.sjac.org.uk/jewish-communities-in-scotland/glasgow/ [accessed 21.07.2020].

South Glasgow Heritage Environment Trust, https://sghet.com/project/queens-park-synagogue-and-langside-synagogue/ [accessed 21.07.2020].

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Images

Former Langside Synagogue, southwest elevation, looking north, during daytime, on overcast day.
Former Langside Synagogue, principal (northwest) elevation to Niddrie Road, looking southeast, during daytime, on overcast day.

Map

Map

Printed: 01/11/2020 01:42