WHEN Bradford Synagogue was built, in 1881, its founding rabbi was Dr Joseph Stroud. Last week six generations of his family were represented at the synagogue, joining Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex, for a service.

The Royal visit recognised the multi-faith work of the synagogue, which stands in the heart of Manningham. In 2013, with Bradford’s Jewish population dwindling, it faced closure - and was saved by fundraising by the neighbouring Muslim community.

Civic involvement is a long tradition at the synagogue. One of the oldest in the UK, it was named Bradford Tree of Life Synagogue last year following a mass shooting at the ‘Tree of Life Synagogue’ in Pittsburgh, America.

In recent years Bradford Synagogue Chairman Rudi Leavor has been awarded the British Empire Medal for his work in community relations, and Trustee Richard Stroud - great grandson of Joseph Strauss - was given the Order of the League of Mercy for helping young people in the region.

In 1939 Richard’s grandfather, Oswald Stroud, set up a hostel in a former Manningham hotel for Jewish boys fleeing Nazi Europe on the Kindertransport. Other Jewish philanthropists included 19th century industrialists Jacob Behrens, who helped establish the Technical College and Bradford’s Eye and Ear Hospital, and Jacob Moser, who supported Bradford Children’s Hospital.

The history of Bradford’s Jewish community is interwound with the city’s industrial heritage. Early Jewish settlers, in the 1830s and 40s, set up textile businesses in the wool merchant quarter, Little Germany, and many of the city’s mills were owned by Jewish textile barons. Business leaders Jacob Unna and Sir Jacob Behrens were founder members of Bradford Chamber of Commerce, and in 1864 Charles Joseph Semon, a textile merchant born in Danzig, became the city’s first Jewish Lord Mayor.

Oswald Stroud, who changed his name from Strauss to Stroud during the First World War, founded world-renowned textile group Stroud Riley. Sam Selka, who came to Bradford as a young man from what is now the Czech Republic, ran Drummond Textiles, and the Jerome family, who found refuge in Bradford after being driven out of Ireland in an anti-Semetic campaign, ran a business at Victoria Mills in Shipley.

Bradford Royal Infirmary, the Wool Exchange, Bradford College and Bradford Grammar School were all established with the help of Jewish entrepreneurs who built their businesses in the city.

These are the people and places explored on the Bradford Jewish Heritage Trail, led by historian Nigel Grizzard several times a year. Back in the 1980s he started running small tours of the city centre on occasional Sunday mornings. Curious Bradfordians and people from further afield, with an interest in the hidden history of the Jewish contribution to the city, would gather around grand Victorian buildings and wander through snickets and yards now long gone. In 2007 Nigel re-launched the Jewish Heritage Trail and in 2011 he was awarded a Heritage Lottery Fund for a Making Their Mark project researching the history of Bradford’s Jewish population.

The tour includes splendid examples of Bradford’s Victorian architecture, including City Hall and Merchants House in Little Germany, and lesser-known buildings, now shops, offices with intriguing stories within their walls. On the corner of Nesfield Street in Manningham stands the last kosher butcher’s shop in Bradford, where meat was served from a small side room. Nearby Eldon Place was home to Jacob Unna, founder of Bradford Synagogue, whose descendants include the actress Dame Peggy Ashcroft. Houghton Place was the site of Bradford’s first Orthadox Synagogue from 1885-1905. Prior to 1885 the congregation et in a room in Tyrrel Street, in the city centre. The district’s last Orthadox Synagogue, in Shipley, closed in 2013.

Other buildings on the heritage trail include Peel Square, a delightful row of now restored houses tucked away on Lumb Lane, where Joseph Strauss first lodged when he arrived in Bradford in 1873; the Schiller-Verein, Rawson Square, where the city’s German elite socialised; the former Arensberg’s Jewellers halfway up Ivegate, where generations of Bradfordians bought engagement and wedding rings; and Wynne Street, Westgate, where Florence Moser, wife of Jacob Moser, ran a place known as ‘The Nest’ where mothers could leave their babies and young children to be cared for while they worked.

Buried in the vaults of City Hall is a collection of silver artefacts discovered by the Making Their Mark project in 2012, which include ornate Bezalel Scrolls and a pair of silver antler horn cigar lighters.

St George’s Hall was financed by Bradford’s Jewish merchants, including Jacob Behrens. The trail pays tribute to the city’s Jewish “stars and dream chasers” including actor George Layton, who was in Doctor in the House and It Ain’t Half Hot Mum, and sportsmen such as former City player Dean Furman.

* Visit bradfordjewish.org.uk