Many of my posts on this blog regularly refer to my joys of living in West London, or more specifically, Bayswater. I also mention wandering around London, a lot, or at least probably will in the future! I do like walking around London because whereas on a tube, and to a lesser extent a bus, you do not get a feel of where you are in relation to other places. You whizz past, with little time to look around and really appreciate the varied architecture, history, monuments and even people. When I get some spare time over the weekend and it happens to coincide with some good weather, preferably cold, crisp and sunny in the winter, and warm with a cool breeze in the summer, I try to take myself off for a bit of exercise and local sightseeing. Few people really appreciate what is on their doorstep and what they can do for free and in London which seems criminal.
The exciting thing about Bayswater, at least for me, is that there are hidden East European gems tucked away which nobody really notices. This can be as simple as a road named Moscow Road (which, if you ever find yourself on, go to the King’s Head rather than the other pubs located on it, it is by far the best, with by far the best staff, decor and drinks) or it can be a real sight such as the New West End Synagogue on St Petersburg Place.
In 2007 the building received a Grade-1 English Heritage listing, placing it among the top 3 percent of England’s historic buildings (www.newwestend.org.uk). It was built in a Greco-Byzantine style and opened in 1879 during Benjamin Disraeli’s Prime Ministership and arguably, the zenith of the British Empire. The synagogue itself boasts Chaim Weizmann, the first president of the State of Israel, as once being a member of its congregation. This March, it received a grant of £108,000 from English Heritage to repair the leaky roof. While the building is noting in comparison to Budapest’s infamous synagogue, the largest in Europe, it is beautiful and should be preserved for future generations to enjoy, not just the opportunity to worship there if you are of the Jewish faith, which I am not, but for its historic importance and impressive architectural design.