Willesden: Judaism

Pages 246-247

A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 7, Acton, Chiswick, Ealing and Brentford, West Twyford, Willesden. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1982.

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Judaism. (fn. 1)

There was considerable Jewish immigration at the end of the 19th century into Brondesbury and Willesden Green. In 1902 an iron building was erected for services and religious classes on a site in Salusbury Road and in 1905 a permanent synagogue, affiliated to the United Synagogue, was opened at the junction of Chevening and Carlisle roads. Called Brondesbury synagogue, it was a red-brick building in an oriental style with Moorish domes and arches. There was a fire there in 1965 and the synagogue closed in 1974. (fn. 2)

A second wave of immigration took place in the 1920s and 1930s leading to the establishment of several synagogues. In 1928 a house at no. 137 Walm Lane, Cricklewood, was registered for worship, and in 1931 the second United synagogue, Cricklewood synagogue, was built next door at nos. 131-5 Walm Lane. A two-storeyed brick building with rounded doors and windows was in use in 1978. (fn. 3)

In 1929 Jews in the developing districts of Neasden, Dollis Hill, and Gladstone Park met to consider opening a synagogue. Services were held at the L.M.S. institute in Edgware Road and in 1930 at Neasden mission hall in Dog Lane. (fn. 4) In 1931 the foundation stone was laid of a synagogue in Clifford Way, Neasden. A Federation synagogue, it was called Gladstone Park and Neasden synagogue or Abravath Shalom. The foundation stone of a new synagogue was laid at the same site in 1967. (fn. 5)

A synagogue, which in 1937 became a district member of the United Synagogue, opened in 1933 in Parkside, Dollis Hill. A larger, concrete synagogue by Walter Landauer seating 524 men and 392 women opened in 1938, the original building becoming the Joseph Freedman hall. (fn. 6)

Willesden synagogue was established in Brondesbury Park in 1934. As Willesden Hebrew Congregation it was registered at no. 17 Heathfield Road in 1935 and re-registered as Willesden Green Federation synagogue in 1936. In 1939, when presumably a synagogue was built, it was registered as Willesden (later Willesden and Brondesbury) synagogue and became a member of the United Synagogue. The building was desecrated in 1967 but still in use in 1978. (fn. 7)

Khal Yisroel synagogue was registered at no. 185 Willesden Lane 1935-1947. (fn. 8)

Ohel Shem Beth Hamedrash, a member of the Federation of Synagogues, was established in 1945 at no. 263 Chamberlayne Rd., Kensal Rise. (fn. 9)

Cricklewood Beth Hamedrash or Keser Torah had opened at no. 62 St. Gabriel's Road by 1949 when it was a member of the Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations. From 1950 it was a Federation affiliated synagogue.

Dollis Hill Beth Hamedrash, also a member of the Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations, existed at no. 152 Fleetwood Road from before 1950 until after 1960.

An independent congregation, Kilburn and Brondesbury Chevra Torah, existed at no. 9 Brondesbury Rd. from 1953 until after 1963. (fn. 10)

By 1978 the emigration of Jews from Willesden and the general decline in religious observance led the United Synagogue to 'streamline' its Willesden synagogues and a single rabbi served the congregations of Cricklewood, Willesden, and Dollis Hill. (fn. 11)

A Jewish cemetery opened in 1873 on 12 a. near Pound Lane. It contained three buildings in stone designed by N. S. Joseph, and the graves of Baron Mayer de Rothschild (1874) and Sir Anthony de Rothschild (1876). (fn. 12)


  • 1. Based on Jewish Year Bks.
  • 2. Brondesbury Synagogue, Semi-Jubilee Celebration Rec. (pamphlet in Grange Mus.); G.R.O. Worship Reg. 41012; The Times, 15 Mar. 1965.
  • 3. G.R.O. Worship Reg. 51327, 53118.
  • 4. Dollis Hill Synagogue Re-dedication (pamphlet 1956 in Grange Mus.).
  • 5. Dated foundation stones; G.R.O. Worship Reg. 53680, 58135.
  • 6. Dollis Hill Synagogue Re-dedication; G.R.O. Worship Reg. 54678, 57901, 61542; Arch. Rev. lxxxiii (1938).
  • 7. G.R.O. Worship Reg. 55948, 57092, 58959; Willesden Mercury, 1 Sept. 1967. The synagogue, between Brondesbury Pk. and Heathfield Rd., could be given either address: Willesden Inf. Handbk. [1963] refers to it as Willesden Green synagogue, Heathfield Rd.
  • 8. G.R.O. Worship Reg. 55771.
  • 9. Ibid. 61698.
  • 10. Willesden Inf. Handbk. [1963].
  • 11. Grange Mus., gen. files, Jewish Community (Kilburn Times, 12 May 1978). There were said to be 20,000 Jews in Brent in 1976: ibid. (Jewish Chron. 1 Oct. 1976).
  • 12. Thorne, Environs, 697-9; Kelly's Dir. Mdx. (1908).