the former

Torbay (Torquay & Paignton) Hebrew Congregation

Torquay, Torbay, Devon




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The Borough of Torbay

The three main towns of Torbay are the resort towns of Torquay, Paignton and Brixham, all situated around Tor Bay on the Devon coast of the English Channel in South West England.   All three towns had been separate municipal boroughs until 1968 when they were amalgamated into the single county borough of Torbay. In 1974 Torbay became a local government district of the county of Devon and, in 1998, it became a unitary authority..

The Jewish Community

The Jewish community in what is now Torbay dates from World War II, when synagogues were opened in both Torquay and Paignton, primarily by evacuees from London. The congregation in Paignton did not survive long after the War. The synagogue is Torquay continued, and acquired a cemetery (in Paignton) in 1962, which is still in use. However, due to dwindling numbers, the synagogue in Torquay closed in 2000.

Congregation Data

Latest Name:

Torbay Hebrew Congregation, from 1968(iii)

Previous Names:

Torquay and Paignton Hebrew Congregation, which was the name adopted from the establishment of the congregation(iv) until 1968 (although at times the congregation was referred to simply as the Torquay Hebrew Congregation.)

However, the congregation was also known as the Torquay United Synagogue Membership Group from 1940(vi) until at least 1942(vii)

Last Addresses:

Old Town Hall (a single room on an upper floor), Abbey Road, Torquay, Torbay, from late 1950s(viii) until 2000.(ix)

Previous Addresses:

Prior to the establishment of the congregation, periodic Shabbat services had been held at the Sandringham Hotel, a Jewish-owned hotel in Torquay, a room in which initially functioned as the synagogue.(xii)

By 1941, the congregation commenced holding services in 186, Union Street, Torquay, a church hall in central Torquay rented on a permanent basis, which premises were consecrated by the Rev. Ephraim Levine in early 1941.(xiii)

By January 1943, the Union Street premises were evacuated and the congregation moved back to the Sandringham Hotel.(xiv)

It is uncertain as to how long the congregation remained at the Sandringham Hotel (and one authority  indicates that it actually remained in the church hall until about 1950(xv)). However, in about 1949 the congregation moved to the first floor of a clothing factory (now the site of a block of flats) in Abbey Road, Torquay, referred to as Abbey Hall,(xvi) where the congregation remained until 1958.(xvii)

Associated Congregation:

It would appear that a separate Paignton Hebrew Congregation existed from 1941(xx) until about 1946, when that congregation's address was given as 10 Torquay Road, Painton.(xxi) However, it is unclear as to the exact relationship between the two congregations.

See below for minister and officers.

Date Founded:

The congregation was founded in 1939 when some 50 Jewish family (including a group of Jews of Persian origin), were evacuated from Stamford Hill and made their way to Torquay.(xxii) The resolution to form a congregation was approved at a meeting held on Sunday, 8 October 1939.(xxiii)

Current Status:

Closed in 2000.(xxiv)


Ashkenazi Orthodox


Although the congregation was an unaffiliated congregation under the aegis of the Chief Rabbi, during Word War II (from 1940 until at least 1942) it was affiliated to the United Synagogue as a United Synagogue Membership Group.(xxv)

Ministers:  (To view a short profile of a name that appears in blue - hold the cursor over the name.)

Rev. Shalom Marcovitch - minister from 1941 until 1942(xxix)

Rabbi Chaim Kasriel Baddiel - minister from January 1943 until November 1945(xxx)

Rev. Armin Wachsmann - minister from February 1946 until about 1947(xxxi)

Rev. Irving Chazen - minister in about 1947/8(xxxii)

Rev. Louis Weiwow - minister from 1950 until 1957(xxxiii)

 * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Paignton Hebrew Congregation

Rev. A. Behrman - minister in about 1945(xxxiv)

Lay Officers of the Congregation:

Unless otherwise stated data on lay officers has been extracted from Jewish Year Book listings.(xxxvii)

Chairmen / Presidents(xxxix)

1939-1943 - Saul Harris(xl) 

1943-1946 - no data

1946-1949 - Cllr. I. Joseph

1949-1950 - S. Fredman

1950-1952 - N. Cowen

1952-1953 - J. Segelman

1953-1954 - A. Morris

1954-1956 - Ernest Freed

1956-1966 - no data

1966-1969 - S. Fredman

1969-1970 - L. Solly

1970-1972 - D. Jacobs

1972-1973 - A. Kosky

1974-1985 - Monty Waxman

1985-1986 - M. Werner

1985-1986 - Dr. J. Lyons


1940 - Sam Harris(xlii)

1942-1943 - J. Jacobs(xliii)

1943 - Reuben Marriott(xliv)

1943-1946 - no data

1946-1947 - B.W. CohenN. Nagel

1947-1949 - N. Nagel

1949-1952 - M. Laderman

1952-1953 - E. FreedB. Lader

1955-1956 - S. Fredman

from 1956 - no data


1939-1940 - Reuben Marriott(xlvii)

1940 - D. Harounoff(xlviii)

1942-1943 - B.W. Cohen(xlix)

1943-1946 - no data

1946-1950 - N. Cowen

1950-1954 - S.W. Fredman

1954-1955 - J. Alpern

1955-1956 - M. Kay

from 1956 - no data

Secretaries & Hon Secretaries

1939-1940 - Simon Richman(lii)

1940 - Reuben Marriott(liii)

1943-1945 - Rabbi C.K. Baddiel (liv)

1946-1949 - E. Freed

1949-1951 - L.G. Alexander

1951-1952 - J. Segelman

1952-1953 - M. Kosky

1953-1956 - S. Feldman

1956-1957 - E. Freed

1957-1958 - S. Fredman

1958-1962 - S. Feldman

1962-1966 - S. Fredman

from 1966 - scanty data

Lay OFficers of the Paignton Congregation(lviii):


1945-1946 - Percy Kirk

1946-1947 - E. Klieff


1942 - Simon Roseman(lix)


1945-1947 - E. Klieff


Hon Secretaries

1945-1946 - Dr. G. Stonehill

1946-1947 - Simon Roseman

Membership Data:

Reports & Survey(lx)

1977 - 30 male (or household) members and 8 female members

1983 - 15 male (or household) members and 3 female members

1990 - 20 members (comprising 11 households, 3 individual male and 6 individual female members)

1996 - 19 members (comprising 12 households, 3 individual male and 4 individual female members)

Registration District:

Torbay, since 1 April 1968(lxi) - Register Office website


Search the All-UK Database

The records in the database associated with Torbay (Torquay & Paignton) include:

  • Burials

    • Paignton Cemetery, 1963 - 2010 (records of 90 burials, with 78 images of gravestones)

  • Census

    • 1851 for Torquay.

  • UK Jewish Communal Leaders Database

    • 33 Torquay records (as of 30 September 2021).

  • 1851 Anglo Jewry Database, including Dartmouth (5 miles to the south) (updated 2016)

    • Individuals in the 1851 Anglo Jewry Database who were living in:
      Torquay during the 1790s (1 record), 1840s (2 records), 1850s (15 records), 1860s (5 records), 1870s (5 records); 1880s (3 records) and 1910s (1 record); and
      Dartmouth during the 1800s (2 records), 1810s (6 records) and 1820s (4 records).


Online Articles and Other Material
relating to the Torbay Jewish Community


See below for online material relating to the community's Jewish cemetery.


Notable Jewish Connections with Torquay and Paignton

(courtesy Steven Jaffe)

  • Muriel Tamara Byck (1918-1944), spied for Britain during the Second World War. She parachuted into Nazi occupied France and served with the SOE (Special Operations Executive) and French Resistance and died of meningitis while on active service in France. A blue plaque in English and Hebrew marks her childhood home at Bay Fort Mansions, in Warren Road, Torquay.

  • Alderman Isidore Joseph (1897-1967) was Torquay's mayor in 1956-7. He was a president of both the Torquay and Plymouth Hebrew congregations.

  • Anthony Steen CBE (b. 1939), a campaigner against human trafficking, was Conservative MP for the South Hams Devon constituency during the 14 years of its existence (1983-97). The constituency covered a large part of the English Riviera.

  • Kosher Hotels in Torquay and Paignton:

    • Prior to World War II, the Plaza Hotel was "the only Jewish hotel overlooking the sea", and two kosher guest houses, both on Middle Warbury Road, vied for Jewish customers: the Knowsley (under personal supervision of resident Manageress, Mrs AF Marks) and the Medina ("Only Orthodox Kasher Guest House under Jewish proprietorship": Mrs HB Tufle);

    • The Sandringham Hotel was a Jewish-owned hotel in Torquay run by the Marriott family until 1943. Shabbat services were held there during the holiday season and it provided facilities for the new Hebrew congregation established in 1939/40;

    • In 1956 the Strathmore Hotel (with 42 bedrooms) was the largest kosher hotel in Torquay. It was owned by Ernest Freed from 1946 until 1960; and

    • The South Sands Hotel, was a small strictly kosher hotel on the sea front and Mrs R Klieff ran a kosher boarding house at Queens Park mansions in Paignton.


Community Records

  • Congregation Records:

    • Marriage Records:
      Marriage records held by Board of Deputies Ref: 10/1a/1Torquay and District Synagogue.

    • Other Records:
      1827 - 1932 Ledger held by Hartley Institute.


Other Torbay Jewish Institutions & Organisations

Educational & Theological

  • Hebrew and Religious Classes (founded 1939)(lxv)

Other Institutions

  • Synagogue Ladies' Guild (founded 1942)(lxvi)

  • Torquay & District (later Torbay) Zionist Society (founded by 1945)(lxvii)

  • Chevra Kadisha and Bikkur Cholim (founded by 1954)(lxviii)


Jewish Cemetery Information

Painton Jewish Cemetery
© David Shulman 2016

The only Jewish cemetery in Torbay is the Torquay & Paignton Hebrew Congregation Cemetery (being the Jewish Section of Paignton Cemetery), which is still in use and has its own prayer hall. The cemetery is situated off Ailescombe Road, Colley End Road, Paignton, and was acquired by the community in 1962. (Prior to 1962, the community generally used the cemeteries in Plymouth and Exeter.)

(For some additional information, see also IAJGS International Jewish Cemeteries Project - Paignton)


Torquay & Paignton Jewish Population Data





125 families

(Jewish Chronicle 13 October 1939)



(The Jewish Year Book 1952)



(The Jewish Year Book 1955)



(The Jewish Year Book 1958)



(The Jewish Year Book 1960)



(The Jewish Year Book 1961)



(The Jewish Year Book 1963)



(The Jewish Year Book 1965)



(The Jewish Year Book 1968)



(The Jewish Year Book 1972)



(The Jewish Year Book 1974)



(The Jewish Year Book 1974)



(The Jewish Year Book 1980)



(The Jewish Year Book 1983)



(The Jewish Year Book 1985)



(The Jewish Year Book 1989)



(The Jewish Year Book 1991)



(The Jewish Year Book 1997)



(The Jewish Year Book 2004)


Notes & Sources
( returns to text above)

  • (i) and (ii) Reserved.

  • (iii) The Jewish Chronicle of 28 June 1968 reported "The Torquay and Paignton Hebrew Congregation is in future to be known as the Torbay Hebrew Congregation, to conform with the new name of the area now under the administration of the Torbay Borough Council."

  • (iv) The Jewish Chronicle report of 13 October 1939.

  • (v) Reserved.

  • (vi) The Jewish Chronicle report of 24 May 1940.

  • (vii) The Jewish Chronicle report of 5 June 1942.

  • (viii) The Jews of Devon and Cornwall, published 2000 by The Hidden Legacy Foundation, pp.18/19. It was also the address listed in Jewish Year Books from 1960.

  • (ix) The Jewish Chronicle report of 11 October 1872.

  • (x) and (xi) Reserved.

  • (xii) The Jewish Chronicle reports of 13 October 1939, 24 May 1940 and 1 December 2000. This was also the first (and only pre-1945) address listed in the Jewish Year Book (1940 edition).

  • (xiii) The Jews of Devon and Cornwall, p.18 and The Jewish Chronicle report of 18 April 1941.

  • (xiv) The Jewish Chronicle report of 8 January 1943.

  • (xv) The Jews of Devon and Cornwall, p.18.

  • (xvi) The Jews of Devon and Cornwall, p.18. Abbey Hall, Abbey Road was the congregation's address listed in Jewish Year Books 1950 through 1958.

  • (xvii) The Jewish Chronicle report of 14 February 1958.

  • (xviii) and (xix) Reserved.

  • (xx) The Jewish Chronicle report of 9 January 1942 refers to regular Sabbath morning services having been held in Paignton for some weeks under the direction of the Torquay congregation and its minister.

  • (xxi) The Paignton congregation, with this address, was listed in Jewish Year Books 1945/6 and 1947.

  • (xxii) The Jewish Chronicle report of 1 December 2000.

  • (xxiii) The Jewish Chronicle report of 13 October 1939.

  • (xxiv) The Jewish Chronicle report of 1 December 2000.

  • (xxv) The Jewish Chronicle reports of 24 May 1940 and 5 June 1942.

  • (xxvi) to (xxviii) Reserved.

  • (xxix) Rev Marcovitch's Jewish Chronicle obituary of 10 June 2011 and The Jewish Chronicle reports of 18 April 1941 and 5 June 1942.

  • (xxx) The Jewish Chronicle report of 8 January 1943 refers to Rabbi Baddiel's appointment and report of 23 November 1945 refers to his departure.

  • (xxxi) The Jewish Chronicle report of 8 February 1946 reported on a reception was held at the Sandringham Hotel, Torquay, in honour of the new minister of the Congregation, the Rev. A. Wachsmann. An advertisement appeared in The Jewish Chronicle of 23 May 1947 seeking minister and shochet for the Torquay community.

  • (xxxii) The Jewish Chronicle obituary of 21 February 1975 and profile of 13 January 1950.

  • (xxxiii) The Jewish Chronicle report of 26 May 1950 reported on the official welcome to Rev. L. Weiwow, the newly appointed minister of the Torquay and Paignton congregation, and a report of 29 November 1957 referred to the earlier retirement of Rev. J.L. Weiwow.

  • (xxxiv) Listed as minister of the Paignton congregation in the Jewish Year Book 1945/6.

  • (xxxv) and (xxxvi) Reserved.

  • (xxxvii) The Jewish Year Book was not published for the war years 1941 through 1945. Where a person is first listed in a year book as holding a particular office, it has been assumed that such officer's term of office commenced in the year of publication of the relevant year book and that he continued in office until the commencement of office of his successor, unless the office was vacant. The year books were published generally towards the end of the year prior to the year appearing in the title of the year book. For example, if an officer is listed in Jewish Year Books 1948 through 1950, it is assumed that he commenced office in 1947 and continued in office until 1950. However, it should be noted that this is only an assumption and, accordingly, his actual years of office may differ somewhat from those shown here.

  • (xxxviii) Reserved.

  • (xxxix) The title chairman was used in 1939 and again from about 1978. for other years, the title used was president.

  • (xl) S. Harris was elected as chairman at founding meeting (The Jewish Chronicle of 13 October 1939). He was listed in the Jewish Year Book 1940 as president and his election as warden was reported in The Jewish Chronicle of 24 May 1940. His re-election as president in reported in The Jewish Chronicle of 18 April 1941, 5 June 1942 and 8 January 1943.

  • (xli) Reserved.

  • (xlii) S. Harris's election as warden was reported in The Jewish Chronicle of 24 May 1940.

  • (xliii) J. Jacob's election as warden was reported by The Jewish Chronicle on 5 June 1942 and as joint warden on 8 January 1943.

  • (xliv) R. Marriott's election as joint warden was reported by The Jewish Chronicle on 8 January 1943.

  • (xlv) Reserved.

  • (xlvi) Referred to as financial representative in 1942 and 1943.

  • (xlvii) R. Merriott was elected as treasurer at founding meeting (The Jewish Chronicle of 13 October 1939) and was listed as such in the Jewish Year Book 1940.

  • (xlviii) D. Harounoff's election as treasurer was reported in The Jewish Chronicle of 24 May 1940.

  • (xlix) B.W. Cohen's election as financial representative was reported in The Jewish Chronicle of 5 June 1942 and 8 January 1943.

  • (l) and (li) Reserved.

  • (lii) S. Richman was elected as secretary at founding meeting (The Jewish Chronicle of 13 October 1939) and was listed as such in the Jewish Year Book 1940.

  • (liii) R. Marriott's election as hon. secretary was reported in The Jewish Chronicle of 24 May 1940.

  • (liv) Rabbi Baddiel's appointment included that of secretary in addition to minister and teacher (The Jewish Chronicle on 8 January 1943) and it is assumed that he continued to hold all such positions until he left Torquay.

  • (lv) to (lvii) Reserved.

  • (lviii) Based upon listing in Jewish Year Books 1945/6 and 1947, unless otherwise stated.

  • (lix) The Jewish Chronicle report of 9 January 1942.

  • (lx) Reports on synagogue membership in the United Kingdom, published by the Board of Deputies of British Jews and which can be viewed on the website of the Institute of Jewish Policy Research. Click HERE for links to the various reports.

  • (lxi) Previous Registration Districts:
    For Torquay - Newton Abbot from 1 July 1837 to 1 April 1968.
    For Paignton - Totnes from 1 July 1837 to 1 April 1968.
    All registers would now be held by the current office.

  • (lxii) to (lxiv) Reserved.

  • (lxv) The Jewish Chronicle of 15 December 1939

  • (lxvi) The Jewish Chronicle of 9 January 1942

  • (lxvii) First listed in Jewish Year Book 1945/6.

  • (lxviii) First listed in Jewish Year Book 1955.

List of United Synagogue Congregations (and Membership Groups)

World War II Evacuee Communities

Jewish Congregations in Devon

Jewish Communities of England homepage

Page created: 7 March 2006
Data significantly expanded and notes added: 15 June 2022
Page most recently amended: 10 September 2023

Research by David Shulman, assisted by Steven Jaffe
Formatting by David Shulman

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