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
Following four themes that reflect the foundations of civic life in the village, this series of short podcasts features interviews with locals about their experiences of lockdown in Port Sunlight
The revival style design of the village’s houses and public buildings are described by the Heritage Conservation Officer for Port Sunlight Village Trust, while interviews with residents provide insights into how domestic lives in Port Sunlight changed during the pandemic.
Opened in 1922, the Lady Lever Art Gallery houses William Lever’s private collection of fine and decorative art. The Executive Director of Galleries & Collections Care at National Museums Liverpool discusses the gallery’s current research into the sources of Lever’s wealth, which was, in part, derived from palm oil plantations in what was then the Belgian Congo. The gallery is now actively investigating this, along with their partners Port Sunlight Village Trust and Unilever, and will reflect the outcomes of their research in their exhibitions, public programmes and collections.
A local tour guide explores William Lever’s economic views and how these shaped Port Sunlight. Interviews with a retired couple who run a local holiday let and the Port Sunlight Garden Centre manager give a sense of new and more traditional forms of work, and how the pandemic has affected the village’s economy.
Port Sunlight Village Trust’s Landscape Supervisor describes the immaculately maintained gardens that form an integral part of community life in Port Sunlight. In other interviews, a conscientious resident starts a local litter-picking group, and the River Park Ranger describes native wildlife on the site of the original Lever Brothers’ dock.