Port Sunlight

Port Sunlight

infobox UK place
country= England
official_name= Port Sunlight
latitude= 53.35542
longitude= -2.99459
population= 1,450 (2001 Census)citeweb|url=http://www.wirral.gov.uk/factsandfigures/census2001/oneward2recset.asp?ref=TS31|title=Wirral 2001 Census: Port Sunlight|work=Metropolitan Borough of Wirral|accessdate=23 December|accessyear=2007]
metropolitan_borough= Wirral
metropolitan_county= Merseyside
region= North West England
constituency_westminster= Wirral South
post_town= WIRRAL
postcode_district= CH62
postcode_area= CH
dial_code= 0151
os_grid_reference= SJ338847
map_type= Merseyside

static_image_caption= An example of Port Sunlight village architecture.
Port Sunlight is a model village on the Wirral Peninsula, Merseyside, England. It is located between Lower Bebington and New Ferry, and between 1894 and 1974 formed part of Bebington urban district within the county of Cheshire. Since 1 April 1974, the village is a ward of the Metropolitan Borough of Wirral. At the 2001 Census, its population was 1,450.

It was purpose built by William Hesketh Lever (later Lord Leverhulme) starting in 1888 for the employees of Lever Brothers soap factory (now part of Unilever). The name is derived from Lever's most popular brand of cleaning agent, "Sunlight".

Port Sunlight contains 900 Grade II listed buildings, and was declared a Conservation Area in 1978. [citeweb|url=http://www.wirral.gov.uk/udp/oneudp1.asp?id=CH9|title=Port Sunlight Conservation Area|work=Metropolitan Borough of Wirral|accessdate=23 December|accessyear=2007] Port Sunlight has been informally suggested for World Heritage Site (WHS) status [citeweb|url=http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200405/cmhansrd/vo050308/halltext/50308h04.htm|title=Hansard 8 March 2005|work=www.parliament.uk|accessdate=8 February|accessyear=2008] to protect it from development and to preserve the unique character for future generations; however, it is not yet on the current UK "tentative list" for future consideration as a WHS. [citeweb|url=http://icomos-uk.org/whs/tentative_list/ |title=Current UK World Heritage Site "tentative list"|work=ICOMOS UK|accessdate=8 February|accessyear=2008]

History and architecture

In 1887, Lever began looking for a new site on which he could expand his soap-making business, at that time based in Warrington. He purchased 56 acres of unused marshy land at the site which became Port Sunlight, which was relatively flat, allowed space for expansion, and had a prime location between the River Mersey and a railway line.

The garden village was founded to house his factory workers. Lever personally helped to plan the village, and employed nearly thirty different architects. Between 1899 and 1914, 800 houses with a population of 3,500 were built, together with allotments and public buildings including the Lady Lever Art Gallery, a cottage hospital, schools, a concert hall, open air swimming pool, church, and a temperance hotel. He also introduced schemes for welfare, education and the entertainment of his workers, and encouraged recreation and organisations which promoted art, literature, science or music.

Lever's stated aims were "to socialise and Christianise business relations and get back to that close family brotherhood that existed in the good old days of hand labour." He claimed that Port Sunlight was an exercise in profit sharing, but rather than share profits directly, he invested them in the village. He said, "It would not do you much good if you send it down your throats in the form of bottles of whisky, bags of sweets, or fat geese at Christmas. On the other hand, if you leave the money with me, I shall use it to provide for you everything that makes life pleasant – nice houses, comfortable homes, and healthy recreation." [citeweb|url=http://www.dta.org.uk/resources/history/historycontentsummary/industrial/|title=William Hesketh Lever: Port Sunlight and Port Fishlight|work=Development Trust Association|accessdate=17 November|accessyear=2007]

The historical significance of Port Sunlight lies in its unprecedented combination of model industrial housing, providing materially decent conditions for working people, with the architectural and landscape values of the garden suburb, influenced by the ideas of William Morris and the Arts and Crafts Movement. Each block of houses was designed by a different architect. The backs of any of the houses cannot be seen, and each house is unique. In terms of architectural features, there is half-timbering, carved woodwork and masonry, pargetting (ornamental plaster work) moulded and twisted chimneys and leaded glazed patterns. Some houses were built in Flemish style, with bricks imported from Belgium.


One of the great buildings in Port Sunlight is the Lady Lever Art Gallery. A keen art collector, Lever travelled all over the world and liked to show the villagers the art he collected - this is why he built Lady Lever Art Gallery. Opened in 1922 by Princess Beatrice, the art gallery shows Lever's collection as well as some modern-day artwork. This collection includes a range of furniture, paintings and sculptures.

Other notable buildings in the village include the Lyceum, the Gladstone Theatre (which regularly hosts local amateur dramatic productions), Hesketh Hall (which houses the local branch of the Royal British Legion) and the "Bridge Inn" public house.

The village contains a church and opposite is a small primary school. Church Drive Primary School is open to people living outside the village as well as village residents. There is a war memorial in the centre of the village in memory of local soldiers that died in the Great War. Port Sunlight also has a water feature which in the summer can prove a popular attraction for families.

Until the 1980s, all residents were employees of Unilever and their families. It was during this decade that the houses were first sold privately. The former village school is now a working men's club.


The area is served by both Bebington and Port Sunlight railway stations, on the Wirral Line of the Merseyrail network. There are regular train services to Chester, Ellesmere Port and to Liverpool via Birkenhead.

Cultural references

Port Sunlight was widely celebrated. In 1912 it became the subject of a hit West End musical comedy, "The Sunshine Girl", at the Gaiety Theatre, London. It starred Phyllis Dare, one of the most popular pin-ups of the Edwardian era, and was written by Paul Alfred Rubens. The show introduced the tango dance to British audiences.

Notable people

Port Sunlight is the birthplace of 1980s music personality Pete Burns, member of the band Dead or Alive.

Hulme Hall, Port Sunlight, was the venue for drummer Ringo Starr's official debut as a member of The Beatles on 18 August 1962. [citeweb|url=http://home.att.net/~chuckayoub/1962_year.htm|title=The Beatles Timeline 1962|work=Chuck Ayoub|accessdate=28 January|accessyear=2008] [citeweb|url=http://magicalbeatletours.com/tour_wirral.htm|title=A Beatle Tour to Wirral|work=Magical Beatle Tours|accessdate=28 January|accessyear=2008]

It is also the site of the band's first ever broadcast interview. The interview was with local disc jockey Monty Lister and recorded for Radio Clatterbridge on 27 October 1962. [citeweb|url=http://www.radioclatterbridge.co.uk/beatles.htm|title=Beatles|work=Radio Clatterbridge|accessdate=2 April|accessyear=2008]

Other 'model villages'

*Bournville: Cadbury's factory village
*Woodlands: Brodsworth Colliery mining village
*Hampstead Garden Suburb
*Brentham Garden Suburb


External links

* [http://www.bebingtonexplorers.org.uk/ Bebington District Explorer Scouts]
* [http://www.ccpsurc.info/ Christ Church Port Sunlight]
* [http://www.wirral8.f9.co.uk/wirral/portsun.htm Christ Church Port Sunlight Bells]
* [http://www.portsunlight.org.uk Port Sunlight Village Community]
* [http://www.portsunlightvillage.com Port Sunlight Village Trust]

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Port Sunlight — [Port Sunlight] a small town near ↑Liverpool, England, built by Lord Leverhulme at the end of the 19th century for the people working in his soap factory. It was a ‘model village’, designed and built to high standards, and meant to be copied by… …   Useful english dictionary

  • Port Sunlight — 53° 21′ 18″ N 2° 59′ 38″ W / 53.355, 2.994 Port Sunlight est un village …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Port Sunlight — a small town near Liverpool, England, built by Lord Leverhulme at the end of the 19th century for the people working in his soap factory. It was a ‘model village’, designed and built to high standards, and meant to be copied by others. * * * …   Universalium

  • Port Sunlight railway station — Infobox UK station name = Port Sunlight manager = Merseyrail code = PSL locale = Port Sunlight borough = Wirral pte = Merseytravel zone = B1 usage0405 = 0.220 usage0506 = 0.238 usage0607 = 0.237 platforms = 2Port Sunlight railway station serves… …   Wikipedia

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  • Sunlight (disambiguation) — Sunlight may refer to:In business*Sunlight (cleaning product), a brand of laundry soap *Sunlight studios, a recording studio in Stockholm, Sweden *Sunlight Productions, a film and TV production companyIn media*Sunlight a 2002 song by DJ SammyIn… …   Wikipedia

  • Sunlight (cleaning product) — Sunlight is a brand of household soap originally produced by the British company Lever Brothers in 1884. Designed for washing clothes and general household use, the success of the product led to the name for the company s village for its workers …   Wikipedia

  • Port Phillip — Infobox Ocean Ocean name = Port Phillip image Ocean = Port Phillip Bay.png caption Ocean = As captured by Landsat 7 image bathymetry = caption bathymetry = coords = coord|38|09|S|144|52|E|region:AU type:waterbody|display=inline,title type =… …   Wikipedia

  • Joseph Sunlight — (OldStyleDateDY|2 January|1889|20 December 1888–April 15, 1978), was a Russian/ English architect whose energy amassed him a great fortune in Manchester and left at least one fine building in Sunlight House.Born Novogrudok, Belarus, then part of… …   Wikipedia

  • Порт-Санлайт — (Port Sunlight)Port Sunlight, населенный пункт на юж. берегу р.Мерси в сев. зап. части Англии, выстроен в 1888г. в качестве образцовой деревни для рабочих мыловаренной фабрики Санлайт братьев Левер в Биркенхеде близ Ливерпуля …   Страны мира. Словарь

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