Project manager hired to lead restoration of historic Merthyr synagogue

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Project manager hired to lead restoration of historic Merthyr synagogue

Neil Richardson, who is overseeing plans for a Welsh Jewish Heritage centre on site, says Jewish experiences in Wales are valued and celebrated

Merthyr Tydfil Synagogue
Merthyr Tydfil Synagogue

An organisation that restores Jewish heritage sites across Europe has hired a new project manager to oversee preservation plans for a Grade II listed Welsh shul that closed 40 years ago.

Neil Richardson has been appointed to the role at Merthyr Tydfil shul by the Foundation for Jewish Heritage. Most recently he served as interim director of Grade II listed mansion house, Insole Court in Cardiff.

Merthyr synagogue stopped functioning as a community building in 1983 due to deterioration. It was purchased by The Foundation in 2019 with ambitious plans to use it partly to create the first museum devoted to the 250+ years history of Jews in Wales.

Since that time, urgent repairs have been carried out with the support of Cadw, the Welsh Government’s historic environment service. The site was visited by the now King Charles III in 2021.

Neil Richardson.

In 2022, as reported by Jewish News, almost £400,000 in funding was secured from the National Lottery Heritage Fund to create a Welsh Jewish Heritage Centre on the synagogue site, with match funding provided by the Welsh Government and Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council.

Richardson is responsible for driving forward that project, overseeing consultants who will work on its next phase of development.

Stephen Goldman, Heritage Centre steering committee chair said: “We have been making steady progress since buying the synagogue in 2019 and Neil’s extensive experience will be vital.”

Glass window inside Merthyr Tydfil synagogue

Michael Mail, chief executive of the Foundation for Jewish Heritage said: “In Neil we have found someone with all the required skills and expertise that the project needs to take us through the National Lottery process.”

Commenting on his appointment, Richardson says the synagogue is of national significance, “with a heritage that has relevance not only to Merthyr Tydfil, but to Wales and to the UK. The project will ensure the building is saved, and that the experiences and stories of the Jewish community in Wales are valued and celebrated.”

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