North-East England Jewry
in Victorian Britain
(South Shields)




Extract from papers on
Provincial Jewry in Victorian Britain

Papers prepared by Dr. (later Prof.) Aubrey Newman for a conference at University College, London, convened on 6 July 1975 by the Jewish Historical Society of England
(Reproduced here with Prof. Newman's kind consent)

Papers on North-East England


Published Data


Synagogue, Thompson Hill, erected 1862. Has seat accommodation for 50 persons. Average income 12, average expenditure 16.

There is no Jewish school nor Hebrew education in South Shields.. 


1900 - Jewish population 150. 1900 - 6 deaths.

Synagogue, Charlotte Street (founded 1890). Seatholders 49. The weekly income is 2.17s.

Chevra Kadisha, 25 members.

Board of Guardians, membership 30.

Hebrew School. The scholars number 45 (35 boys and 10 girls)

[a - The Jewish Directory for 1874, by Asher I. Myers]
[b - Jewish Year Book]

Board of Deputies returns

  births marriages burials seatholders











South Shields

prepared by L. Olsover

The date about which the first Jewish family arrived in South Shields is obscure but there is evidence that Aaron Simon Gompetz arrived in South Shields in 1846. He was followed later by Henry Kossick and Samuel Levy and their families. These three families formed the nucleus of the congregation. There was then no synagogue or organised Jewish religious life in South Shields; the Jews travelled to North Shields from 1850 onwards for religious services and the children received their Hebrew instruction there. There was a Congregation in North Shields in Linskill Street, and a burial ground at Preston.

The Gompetz family were joined by Joseph Pearlman and Lazarus Joseph and their families and by 1880 they had started services in a private house. In 1885 the said Aaron Simon Gompetz was certified as first secretary for Jewish marriages in South Shields. The register shows that the first marriage was solemnised at Sunny Terrace, South Shields in 1892. This apparently was a hall used as a temporary synagogue. As new members joined the congregation they decided to acquire larger premises for communal worship. There must have been a sizeable community then for the Jewish Year Book of 1890 records that the Hebrew school consisted of 35 boys and 5 girls. The Headmaster was Rev. Bernard Lipkin and the Rev. Lawrence of Sunderland was a visiting minister.

South Shields is situated on the South bank of the River Tyne about ten miles east of Newcastle and has surpassed North Shields as its main port of entry. It is the industrial port for the Tyne, loading its heavy cargoes of coal, iron and steel to the continent and its ships returning with grain, textiles and indeed all kinds of merchandise. It is not surprising therefore that Jews settled in this busy town which had direct links with the Baltic and German ports. Some of the Jews who had settled earlier in North Shields - the twin town on the opposite side of the river - subsequently settled in South Shields, thus diminishing the size of the earlier Jewish community.

By 1897 the Jewish population had reached 100 and the small community decided to purchase a house, No. 38 Charlotte Square, which was converted into a Synagogue. The executive consisted of: President J. Pearlman, Treasurer S. Levy, Secretary J. Gompetz. The weekly income was 31/6. There is reference to a marriage in that year. As the congregation grew it became necessary at the High Festivals to obtain more accommodation at the New Victoria Hall in Fowler Street, or at the Presbyterian Hall in Ingram Street. The community subsequently purchased a plot of land in Wharton Street with a view to building a synagogue, but later disposed of this land at a profit.

New immigrants kept on arriving from the continent and by 1900 there was a Jewish population of 140. A Chevra Kadisha was founded with 25 members and a Board of Guardians with 30 Founder members. The president of this institution was J. Pearlman and W. Sheckman was the treasurer. A Chovevi Zion movement was also established in the same year. In addition to the other institutions there was also a Ladies' Benevolent Society.

Conference Paper on North-East England by L. Olsover

Provincial Jewry in Victorian Britain - List of Contents

South Shields Jewish Community home page

Formatted by David Shulman

Paper first published on JCR-UK: 29 July 2016
Latest revision: 23 August 2016


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