Pictures of Port Sunlight
About Port Sunlight
You could almost say that this was the village built by soap, for it was founded on the fortunes and beliefs of one man - that was William Hesketh Lever, who was born in Bolton in 1851, and who fifteen years later began his career in his father's grocery business. One of his early jobs was to cut and wrap soap, later he became a travelling salesman for the firm and by 1872 he became a partner earning Â£800 a year.
Following his marriage to his childhood sweetheart in 1874, William got the idea of branding and packaging soap, the first name he registered was "Sunlight" thus began the start of the famous Lever Brothers empire which started in a factory in Warrington, leased by William and his brother James.
Ever a man of foresight and strong beliefs, William held fast to the belief that a happy, healthy workforce would be a willing one. He saw for himself the squalor wrought by the Industrial Revolution and resolved to build for a new factory and to create a pleasant village in which to house his workers. This was hitherto unheard of in harsh Victorian times, but Port Sunlight was to become the fore-runner for other similar factory villages, such as the famous Cadbury village of Bourneville in the Midlands.
The garden village William created occupied less than one square mile, but it gave his workers a sense of pride to return to decent housing set in attractive tree lined roads. Housing styles differed, there was much use of bright red brick, even pargetting and black and white half timbering. Public buildings where added later, these included a community hall, a village shop and a post office built in 1891. Later, the village expanded, other properties were built along with shops and further amenities for the workers, some where sadly destroyed during the Second World War, never to be replaced. None-the-less, today it is still worth the trip south of Birkenhead to visit Port Sunlight. The centre-piece of the village is the Lady Lever Art Gallery and Museum, this was built as a memorial to Lady Lever and was opened in 1922.
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