Garnethill Synagogue

The Archives Centre is based in Scotland’s oldest synagogue.
Garnethill Synagogue opened in 1879. It was the first in Scotland to be purpose-built and is the ‘mother synagogue’ of Glasgow.

The A-listed synagogue is the finest example of high Victorian synagogue architecture north of Liverpoool. Jewish Heritage UK includes Garnethill as one of the top ten historic synagogues in the UK.


Garnethill Synagogue was designed by local architect John McLeod of Dumbarton, in conjunction with London architect Nathan Solomon Joseph of the United Synagogue.

McLeod designed a number of churches and public buildings in Glasgow and the west of Scotland, including the Women’s Christian Association in Bath Street, Glasgow.


Communal Organisations

A number of communal organisations were founded in Garnethill Synagogue, including welfare organisations, cultural societies, and youth groups.

The congregation was served for many years by leaders such as Rev. E.P. Phillips and Rev. Dr I.K. Cosgrove. Garnethill clergy were also active in Jewish activities across the city, as well as in relations with the wider community. Members of the congregation over the years have included many prominent professors and academics. Sir Horace Phillips, from a Garnethill family, became a British ambassador, while Myer Galpern was the only Jewish Lord Provost of Glasgow in the 1950s.

Garnethill has been home to the Scottish Jewish Archives Centre since 1986, but it is still a functioning congregation, with a small but active and loyal membership. Tourists and visitors are always welcome.

Founded in 1987 and based in Garnethill Synagogue in Glasgow (Scotland's oldest), the Scottish Jewish Archives Centre aims to document and illustrate the religious, organisational, social, economic, political, cultural and family life of Jews in Scotland since the eighteenth century. It provides a research facility and an educational resource for the Jewish, and also the wider community, in order to heighten awareness of the Jewish heritage in Scotland and to stimulate study of the history of the Jews in this country.