By Ruth Ellen Gruber
I thought I'd add a report from Liverpool, England about the start of a huge clean-up operation at the historic but derelict Deane Road Jewish cemetery, which was founded in 1837 and operated until 1929.
Prominent Liverpool Jews such as David Lewis, the founder of the big department store Lewis’s, are buried here, but the site has long been overgrown and neglected, resembling many cemeteries in Eastern Europe. Fitful clean-up has been under way since 2002, but in December 2010, the Heritage Lottery Fund agreed to award £494,000 to the cemetery to achieve full restoration of the site, with completion expected in Spring 2012. There is a web site devoted to the cemetery and the clean-up project, which will be posting before-during-and-after photographs of the progress and has maps, biographies and many other resources.
In the 19th century, a community of Jewish businessmen belonging to the Liverpool Old Hebrew Congregation changed the face of Liverpool's economy. Amongst these men and women were watchmakers, silversmiths, bankers, entrepreneurs, clerics, artists, politicians, medics and musicians. Their combined resourcefulness, wealth, activities and status helped Liverpool develop into one of the most thriving cities of the Victorian age.
For years, their graves stood desolate, obscured by trees, choked by poisonous plants, vandalised with graffiti and surrounded by refuse. Deane Road Cemetery, their final resting place, was derelict for a century. Following several failed restoration attempts, it seemed that conditions would never be able to be improved long-term. However, since 2002, an ongoing restoration project has gradually improved the physical state of the cemetery and applied for funding for a full restoration.