A picturesque town with more than 900 Grade II listed houses and public buildings, Port Sunlight was founded in 1888 by the industrialist William Lever as a self-contained community for his soap factory workers.
The village today is an immaculately preserved example of early town planning. A prototypical garden city, Port Sunlight’s manicured gardens and parklands offer abundant green space for the village’s residents and visitors, while cultural institutions like the Lady Lever Art Gallery and The Gladstone Theatre provide access to the arts.
With just 2,000 residents, Port Sunlight is home to a small but thriving community
I often chat to neighbours about current events but because of COVID-19 that wasn’t possible. So I printed out three powerful words that were being held up around the world at that time. Pinning them onto the beam felt important to me since my house faces the Leverhulme Memorial.
Around the time this house was built, Lever bought 750,000 hectares of natural palm groves in the Belgian Congo for palm oil. The use of forced labour in these plantations is now under scrutiny and his legacy re-evaluated. To what extent is this beautiful house associated with wealth generated on the backs of others suffering? I love the house and the community that live here, but I feel it’s important to ask these questions and be willing to listen to the answers.
Before the Black Lives Matter movement shook the world in 2020, only Lord Leverhulme’s work as a philanthropist was discussed rather than his dealings in Africa. I look forward to the Village Trust, The Museum and the Lady Lever Art Gallery honouring the truth in the village and I hope Leverhulme Estate and Unilever look at reparations for the people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.