The Deane Road Jewish Cemetery is one of the oldest Jewish cemeteries in Liverpool. It was founded in 1837, and was the resting place of many important Victorian Jews. It was also the final resting place of Charles Mozley, the first Jewish mayor of Liverpool.
Until 1929, the cemetery served as a regular burial ground for the Jewish community of Liverpool, but it fell into disuse. In 1952, the caretaker’s cottage and the prayer hall were torn down. After that, the cemetery became a target for vandals and litter. A group of local people decided to clean the site. Despite some success, the project failed and the cemetery became neglected.
As a result of this, the congregation was forced to look for a new cemetery. Several attempts at restoration failed. One plan involved uprooting all the tombstones. Eventually, the cemetery was closed to the public. However, a group of local volunteers and city councillors formed a cemetery committee to revive the site. They also took on the task of cleaning the cemetery, which led to a large number of unknown gravestones being identified.
Eventually, a grant was awarded by the Heritage Lottery Fund to restore the cemetery. This money will be used to create a visitors’ centre, as well as to restore the boundary wall, the archway, and the path. Once these repairs are complete, the cemetery will be reopened to the public.
The cemetery is owned by the Liverpool Old Hebrew Congregation. It is the only Grade I listed synagogue outside of London. The congregation moved to a new synagogue on Seel Street in 1808. But the Old Hebrew Cemetery is still in use.
Some of the gravestones are damaged and leaning. Others are covered with ivy. In some cases, graffiti has been added to the stones. Those whose stones are in need of repair may be willing to pay for them to be restored. There are currently 900 unmarked graves in the cemetery.
Many members of the Jewish community, including some non-Jews, visit the cemetery. Some have discovered their ancestors’ graves. Another family visited and found that they were descendants of the Yates/Samuels family.
Currently, a group of volunteers is working on a restoration project. It involves the work of a cemetery committee made up of members from different religions and faiths, as well as from the congregation. For the project, a group of volunteer researchers is tracing the lives of the people buried at the cemetery. Using the research, a website has been created to provide details about the cemetery.
The site is in need of structural repairs, as well as waste disposal and re-erection of gravestones. The restoration is expected to take a significant amount of money. Therefore, it is important to gather donations for this project.
If you are interested in supporting the project, you can contact the restoration committee. You can also sign up for ongoing tours at the cemetery.
The group is now planning a one-day conference about heritage restoration on February 27. During the conference, participants will be given the chance to learn more about the history of the Deane Road Jewish Cemetery.