Southport has a substantial Jewish heritage which began in the 1870’s. The first synagogue was established in 1893 and by 1926 the synagogue, which stands today in Arnside Road, was consecrated.
The first Jewish family in Southport was that of Henschel Samuelson (previously Metzenberg, from Breslau, Prussia) who settled in the town around 1873. He established a high class tobacconist shop on Neville Street and later one of his children created the town’s first cinema in the Victoria Hall.
THE SOUTHPORT REST HOME
(former Southport Jewish Aged Home)
provides kosher residential accommodation. A small number of self-contained flats are also available . Respite care can be arranged.
Its on site synagogue provides an alternative orthodox place for Jewish prayer.
SOUTHPORT’S HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL
Can be found in the gardens around the Monument in the centre of Lord Street.
An annual ceremony of commemoration takes place on the Sunday nearest to Holocaust Memorial Day 27th January.
G B SAMUELSON – CINEMA PIONEER
Bertie Samuelson was a British-Jewish pioneer film producer and distributor, born in Southport, Lancashire from immigrant parents – his father came from what was then called Prussia and his mother came from Poland.
He began his working life as a shop assistant and operator of a penny bazaar.
His interest in films was aroused by animated shorts and “kinematograph shows”. In 1909, he set up the Royal Film Agency, based in Birmingham, having made deals with Pathe, Vitagraph and other leading motion picture companies. In 1912, he successfully switched from distribution to production and created Southall Studios, one of the earliest film production companies in the United Kingdom.
“He set up virtually at the beginning of cinema in the UK – a rinky-dink cinema in a hall in Southport. He must have borrowed a hand cranked projector from someone – he used to show a programme of films.
“Whether it was the first cinema in Southport, I don’t know, but in those days, you obtained – if you were showing films for money – entertainment films. You bought yourself a complete programme and then, when there was nobody left who had not seen your programme – if you lived in Southport, as my father did, you sold that programme to an even smaller cinema somewhere in your area and bought a new programme, and then showed that.
And in fact, legend has it in our family that my grandmother, who was, as I said, this immigrant lady with very little English, it was she who said, “Why don’t you change things; instead of people having to buy a programme and then sell it when nobody around wants to see it anymore, wouldn’t it be better if they could rent a programme, say for a week, and for much less than it would cost to buy it outright? Then, every week, the cinema owner could put a new programme of films on and the customers would want to be coming and seeing films on a weekly basis”. – recalled by Sir Sydney Samuelson
Bertie Samuelson was father to Sir Sydney Samuelson CBE, who became the first British Film Commissioner and a former Chairman of BAFTA. He received its Michael Balcon Award and, in 1993, its Fellowship – the Academy’s highest honour. He was awarded a Knighthood for services to the British Film Commission in 1995. Sir Sydney was the first President of the UKJFF from 1997 to 2005