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Plan to transform Merthyr synagogue advance with appointment of lead architect

17 Jun 2023 3 minute read
Chris Andrews. The historical Merthyr Synagogue. (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Plan to transform Merthyr Tydfil’s historic synagogue into a Welsh Jewish Heritage Centre have moved a step closer following the appointment of a lead architect for the project.

The Foundation for Jewish Heritage has confirmed the appointment of GWP Architecture (GWPA) as the Lead Architect for the project.

GWPA has extensive experience with the design and development of heritage sites and cultural facilities, and the regeneration of historic buildings, and recently completed work on the new Penderyn Whisky Distillery and Visitor Centre in Swansea

Richard Townend, Director of GWGA, said, “We are delighted to be appointed to assist the Foundation for Jewish Heritage to take forward their plans for the Merthyr Tydfil Synagogue site, to bring back to life this special Grade II listed building, rich in heritage; a project which will sit alongside the other heritage-led projects that GWPA are currently involved with across South Wales.”


The Synagogue is among the most significant historic buildings in Merthyr, however it has stood empty since 2006.

In 2018, the Foundation conducted a Feasibility Study funded by the Muriel and Gershon Coren Charitable Trust exploring the viability of a Heritage Centre at the Grade II listed building that was deemed as being at risk.

The Foundation went on to purchase the site in 2019 and carried out urgent repairs in 2020 with financial support from private Trusts, individual donors and Cadw, the Welsh Government’s historic environment service.

A painting of the Synagogue by Lowry was recently sold for £277,000.

Funding for the project to bring the building back into use as a Heritage Centre has been secured through the National Lottery Heritage Fund, Merthyr Tydfil Council and Welsh Government.

The vision for the Heritage Centre is that it will present the 250+ year history, traditions and culture of the Welsh Jewish community while also addressing contemporary issues around religious and ethnic diversity, promoting inter-faith and inter-cultural dialogue while combating ignorance and prejudice.


The Project will also be supported by Greenwood Projects, who have been appointed as Cost Consultants to the Project, and who are also highly experienced in the management and delivery of heritage projects in Wales and across the UK.

Michael Mail, Chief Executive of the Foundation for Jewish Heritage, said: “With the appointment of GWPA and Greenwood Projects, we are building an impressive team of professionals to see through this important next Development Phase.

“They have vast experience of working on historic buildings and have strong local knowledge, and they will play a crucial role in helping us think through how the Synagogue building can best be adapted to meet the needs of the proposed Heritage Centre.”

Local politicians, Gerald Jones MP and Dawn Bowden MS are the project’s Special Ambassadors, and TV presenter Huw Edwards joined the project as a patron last year, alongside David Baddiel and Sir Michael Moritz.

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