Thursday 19th October 2017
SITE TOUR: PORT SUNLIGHT VILLAGE
The Congress programme includes a site visit to Wirral’s Port Sunlight Village.
Port Sunlight Village
Port Sunlight is a purpose-built village founded in 1888 by William Hesketh Lever (1851-1925) to house the workers at his soap factory, Lever Brothers, which became the global manufacturing giant, Unilever.
Port Sunlight holds a special place in the history of urban planning. Lever built the village in a considered architectural form and parkland setting as part of a business model he termed ‘prosperity-sharing’. Rather than sharing the profits of the company directly with his employees, Lever provided them with decent and affordable houses, amenities and welfare provisions that made their lives secure and comfortable and enabled them to flourish as people. It was also intended to inspire loyalty and productivity.
The significance of the village rests with both the vision and aesthetic of its founder and the integrity of the village itself, which remains largely intact nearly 130 years after its founding. Lever employed more than 30 different architects to create a village with a diversity of revival style domestic and public buildings, so no two terrace blocks are alike in Port Sunlight. Despite this diversity of designers and styles, a similar palette of building materials was used to create a traditional English village across 130 acres of former marshland.
Port Sunlight was designated a Conservation Area in 1978 and over 900 houses and most of the public buildings in the village were Grade II listed in 1965. The magnificent Grade I listed War Memorial is situated in the Diamond, one of two village landscapes included in the Historic England Register of Parks and Gardens.
There is a museum that explains the history of the village and visitors can experience early 20th century life in Port Sunlight through the Worker’s Cottage, which is decorated as it would have been after it was completed in 1913. The Lady Lever Art Gallery is situated in the middle of the village and it houses one of the UK's finest collections of fine and decorative art.
Port Sunlight Village Trust (PSVT) is an independent charitable trust responsible for preserving and promoting the village. Set up by Unilever in 1999, PSVT runs Port Sunlight Museum and works with Port Sunlight’s residents to create a self-sustaining village for all who live, visit and work here. All of the village’s parks, gardens, monuments and memorials are cared for by PSVT, as well as the majority of public buildings and nearly a third of the houses.
Find out more about the award-winning Port Sunlight Village Trust.