Just off the busy four lane highway of the A6 in Salford lies the small Brindleheath cemetery. It was here that the chapel of St Thomas once stood. It’s gone now, but on the site many of the gravestones of the cemetery remain, not in their original position but laid out in a rectangle. Alongside lies the oldest Jewish Cemetery in the Greater Manchester area.
The chapel of St Thomas was built in 1773 and lasted until 1829, when its congregation had out grown the building and moved to a new larger one. This new church was also dedicated to St Thomas and still stands on Broad Street in Pendleton today. The old chapel became dilapidated, but was pressed into service as an isolation hospital when the cholera epidemic of 1849 broke out. Two years later it was demolished but the old cemetery space still remains with many of the gravestones having been relaid.
A small Jewish cemetery existed alongside this Christian one. Founded in 1794 it measured just 12 by 15 yards. Before this plot was established burial would have occurred in Liverpool. The land was leased from a silk dyer called Samuel Brierley at the cost of 43 pounds, 8 shillings and 9 pence, plus an additional annual peppercorn rent. It stayed in use as the only Jewish cemetery of the Manchester ‘Old’ Hebrew Congregation until its closure in 1840. Two new ones were then opened up, on Queens Road in Miles Platting and on Bury New Road in Prestwich.
The Pendleton cemetery had 29 Jewish burials and records of most of these have survived- although they are very brief. Click the photo opposite to read them from the on site interpretation board. Today, five of the surviving gravestones are arranged radiating out from a central pentagon shape (again not in their original position). There is also a six pointed star of David patterned into the pavement just next to the plot.
Such green spaces as this one are a small oasis for wildlife in the city landscape. The following wildflowers have been recorded as growing at the site of these two cemeteries: wild iris, birds foot trefoil, tufted vetch and self heal. Animals visiting it have included bats, hedgehogs and woodpeckers.
Our thanks to Jim, our Salford history correspondent on bringing this site to our attention.
Site visited by A. and J. Bowden 2017
Access The site is open access. Park on Brindle Heath Road.
On site interpretation boards, provided by Salford City Council