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Report - Greenbank Synagogue, Liverpool - September 2015

Discussion in 'Other Sites' started by BrainL, Sep 17, 2015.

  1. BrainL

    BrainL 28DL Full Member
    28DL Full Member

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    The Visit
    Having tried this in the past with no luck and wanting to see this building for a while now I had to make the journey back to Liverpool when I seen some reports again. Have to say it was well worth the journey. Only hope that no "undesirables" get in this building and cause any damage.

    The History
    The Greenbank Drive Synagogue was built in 1936/7 and is the work of the notable Liverpool architect Sir Ernest Alfred Shennan. Most of his other work is also in Merseyside and comprises a diversity of building types. His inter-war designs included Westminster Banks; five cinemas including the listed Forum Cinema on Lime Street, Liverpool; restaurant interiors (The French Café and Arabic Café, both 1933, Liverpool); dance halls (The Grafton Rooms, Liverpool, 1934); hotels and office blocks. Greenbank Drive is Shennan’s only synagogue and is very different to the rest of his oeuvre up to that time which, apart from the banks, was distinctive art deco.

    To put this building in context: in the first half of the 20th century, Anglo Jewry did not enthusiastically adopt international modern architecture for its new synagogues and community buildings. (This is in dramatic contrast to Jewish Community buildings in Palestine and the emergent State of Israel during the 30’s and 40’s, which produced the most extensive legacy of modern movement buildings anywhere.) Owen William’s Dollis Hill Synagogue (1936, now mutilated) was the only genuinely modern movement synagogue.


    Though there are some impressive deco influenced synagogues dating from the late 1920s, they are all to some degree exercises in historicism, often combined with exoticism. (See for example the splendid Byzantine art deco of the former Leeds New Synagogue, now the Northern School of Contemporary Dance, 1938 by J Stanley Wright and Clay.)

    Greenbank Drive is very different as in its design Shennan produced a synthesis of his previous art deco style and other modern architectural tendencies. It directly reflects Swedish architectural influences, both in the exterior of the building, which is clearly inspired by the late fruition of the Swedish national romantic style, and in its interior, which draws on contemporary Swedish functionalism. In consequence, Greenbank stands alone as a synagogue which is really significant in terms of the progressive architecture of its time. Although clearly not ‘international modern’, it was a genuine attempt at a new architecture appropriate for a modern synagogue, and succeeds in these terms. We are for once looking forward, not back to an exotic past.

    The Synagogue has a re-inforced concrete and steel frame structure, with the external walls faced in ‘golden brown’ hand cut bricks. There is a grand approach to the west front entrance up two flights of shallow steps, with curved concrete balustrades. The west front has a three bay projecting entrance, with three semi-circular headed double curved brick arches supported on circular brick piers. (This composition draws directly on the influence of Ivar Tengbom’s Hogalids Church in Stockholm.)

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  2. The Kwan

    The Kwan funksoul Brother
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    Cool Pictures Brian, I love the almost retro cupboard in this picture and remember thinking to myself "thats gotta be a juke box or something" what a Nob lol, but it is a lovely bit of woodwork.
     
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  3. BrainL

    BrainL 28DL Full Member
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    It is lovely isn't it.. wonder what it was used for??
     
  4. The Kwan

    The Kwan funksoul Brother
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    Maybe to keep the Kiddush wine or books in, yes it is lovely :)
    EDIT, I just looked at my photo of it and it has blue velvet curtains and a gold shelf inside it,
     
    #4 The Kwan, Sep 17, 2015
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2015
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  5. Lancashire lad

    Lancashire lad chief taster for costa coffee
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    nice report got some decent piks there:thumb
     
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  6. Will Knot

    Will Knot 28DL Regular User
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    Decent stuff that mate.....great pics :thumb
     
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