Friday, 25 January 2013


This article appears in today's Leicester Mercury (but not on its website). It's the regular Sketchbook piece by Olwen Hughes (whose illustration is shown below).

Building by Gimson is now used as synagogue
This eye-catching single-storey building on the southern side of Avenue Road in Clarendon Park, Leicester, is quite important.
It was designed by Ernest Gimson for the Goddard family as a meeting house of some sort in the early 1900s.
The Gimson family was a very important Leicester one, with Ernest's father, Josiah, being the owner of the Vulcan Iron Foundry in northern Highfields.
Ernest became an architect and, among other things, designed the very individual White House, in North Avenue, Clarendon Park.
The Goddards in Leicester were also architects and would have known the Gimsons well, but one of their claims to fame is that they were the inventors of a liquid silver polish still much in use today.
I remember having a pleasant walk around the area about 20 years ago when the building was unoccupied and for sale.
There was a solitary swing in the grounds and I was told it had been used as a private nursery school.
The open land to the rear was a playground.
In 1995, it was bought by Leicester Progressive Jewish Congregation for its synagogue and meeting place and it is now called Neve Shalom - oasis of peace.
Inside, as it was to begin with, the walls are all wooden panelled and at the rear is a much more modern window representing the tree of life. This is by the Leicestershire artist Ruth Schewiening.
The Progressive Jewish Congregation is of the view that men and women should participate in religious and other activities on an equal footing and holds parts of its religious services in both Hebrew and English.
A range of cultural, educational and social activities is organised at the centre and also operate from it.

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