Hidden Heritage
Jewish cemetery holds links to history of city

The long-forgotten final resting place of some of Liverpool’s best-known entrepreneurs could be restored and added to the city’s heritage trail.

The last burial at the Jewish cemetery in Deane Road, Kensington, took place in 1929 and since then, it has fallen into ruin. Now synagogue leaders are hoping to raise enough money to open up the 170-year-old plot for visitors again.

The cemetery contains the graves of people such as David Lewis, pioneer of Lewis’s department store, and Moses Samuel, founder of the H Samuel jewellery chain.

It has been locked up for decades to avoid vandalism, and although there is the odd bit of graffiti, most of its 750 headstones are still standing.

It is thought about £143,000 would be enough to tidy up the grounds, repair the walls, entrance archway, path, gates and railings, repair graves, re-consecrate the cemetery and maintain it long-term.

Saul Marks, from Liverpool Old Hebrew Congregation, hopes the proposal will succeed where previous schemes in the 1970s and 1980s failed.

He said: “The foliage has been cleared so many times, but we have never found the money for maintenance. The difference this time is that people like the probation service and the Kensington clean team are helping us. Once it is restored, we could bring organised tours here and tell them about the history of the Jews in Liverpool and how a Jewish funeral works. We could get involved with local schools, bringing children to do grave rubbings.”

Mr Marks has managed to trace descendants of some of the people buried there, some of whom were unaware of their Jewish heritage.

He said: “The people buried here were not your stereotypical 19th-century Jewish butchers and tailors originally from Poland. They were English gentlemen, born here, who were successful bankers or silversmiths. You can imagine horse-drawn carriages coming through the gates and up the gravel drive to the archway.”

Community leaders are now urging residents to get involved with the restoration of the cemetery, which is opposite Kensington’s Lidl supermarket.

Kensington councillor Louise Baldock said: “A clean-up day has been organised for July 19. We need people who are willing to get down on their knees with a trowel.

Echo Essentials

Deane Road cemetery opened in 1837. It was last used for regular burials in 1904, but the final funeral in a reserved plot took place in 1929. Its most famous occupant is David Lewis, who founded Lewis’s department store and died in 1885. Also buried there is Moses Samuel, whose business was turned into the H Samuel jewellers and Liverpool’s first Jewish mayor, Charles Mozley. Although there are 750 headstones, it is thought 1,723 people are buried there – including around 900 unmarked graves of babies and infants.