Leeds Hill Top Cemeteries
(Created: 24 July 2012; Updated: 24 November 2012)
(Note: These cemeteries are permanently closed due to dangerous mining subsidence from former coal workings).
Leeds Hill Top Cemeteries contain the burial grounds for a number of Synagogues past and present:
Hagodal Synagogue (BHH), the New Briggate
Synagogue (also known as the "Grinner") which was the largest Synagogue between the wars, and the New
and Old Mariampolar, also called "The Central". The Grinner amalgamated with the
Great Synagogue, Belgrave Street, the oldest
established synagogue, and some others in 1931 to form the
United Hebrew Congregation in Leeds (UHC). Their cemeteries have
been in use from 1875 until 1970 (with some later burials, primarily in reserved
plots) while Belgrave Street members continue to use their original cemetery on Gelderd Road.
The earliest graves in the BHH cemetery date from 1905, some 30 years after that synagogue's foundation.
As the name implies, the Hill Top Cemeteries are situated on top of a hill, but above a labyrinth of mining tunnels and shafts.
In 2006, six graves and headstones in the BHH cemetery collapsed thirty feet into what was believed to be a mineshaft and forced
Leeds Jewish Orthodox Cemeteries to close the grounds for repairs. These were carried out by the Residual Coal Board Authority who had
accepted responsibility for the site and grounds. The cemeteries reopened in June 2007 with assurances about their safety. However,
a year later, following further subsidence, all cemeteries on Hill Top were deemed unsafe and are now closed permanently. Since
then, every year during the month of Ellul, a memorial service has been held in the Ohel of the current BHH Cemetery in remembrance
of those buried in the Hill Top cemeteries. Notable burials in these cemeteries include Rabbi Israel Chaim Daiches, Rabbi Mayer
Palterovitch (an ancestor of the actress Gwyneth Paltrow) and the Hebrew & Yiddish scholar Aaron Rumyaneck. Further
details on the history of these cemeteries are given in a recent article by Malcolm Sender which was published in the February 2012
Issue of the BHH Magazine BIMA and which can be viewed
This "virtual" cemetery has been assembled from digital photographs of approximately 3000 headstones (taken mainly during 1996-2006)
together with additional information extracted from the few available extant records, including some old partial plans drawn on linen.
For the present purpose, the cemeteries have been spilt into logical sections separated by walls and/or paths. Within each section,
the rows have been designated alphabetically and the graves within each row have been numbered sequentially. Where possible, the
locations of gaps and unmarked graves have been identified. Within each section the start of each row is identified by A1, B1, C1,
etc, as shown in the annotated image (Google Earth) which can be viewed
Note: All of the Synagogues which have used the different Sections of Hill Top Cemeteries over the years cannot be identified
with any degree of certainty. However, the main Synagogues associated with each Section are known to be:
UHT_C, UHT_D, UHT_F, UHT_G
New Briggate, UHC
Details of all burials in the Hill Top Cemeteries are provided in this database, together with images of all
legible and partially legible headstones. Information for any individual may be displayed by first selecting the appropriate surname
letter from the list below and then selecting the required name from its drop-down list.
This database has been created through the efforts and support of Malcolm Sender, Lee White, Alan Tobias, the late Murray Freedman, Nigel Grizzard, Anthony Glynne,
Kate Pearlman Shaw, Joanne Harris, Alan Benstock and Eddie Mack. It is made available here with permission of the
Etz Chaim Synagogues in Leeds.
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