Port Sunlight is a garden village, and the finest surviving example of early urban planning in the UK. It was founded by the industrialist William Hesketh Lever (later Viscount Leverhulme) in 1888 to house workers of his soap factory. Set in 130 acres of beautifully landscaped parkland, the village features cottages in a mix of architectural styles alongside community buildings (including the former Girls’ Club which now houses the museum), fine public sculpture, and one of the largest war memorials in the UK. The whole village is a Designated Conservation Area.
The museum tells the story of the village from its inception to present day. It shows how Lever developed his vision for the village, and what influenced the many architects and designers employed there. The museum offers the opportunity to experience what life and work was like for the Victorian and Edwardian residents of Port Sunlight, and highlights the terrible losses the village experienced in the First and Second World Wars. Displays also showcase the work of Port Sunlight Village Trust, which in partnership with the residents works to conserve the village and promote the ideas underlying its foundation and development.
- Nearly every building in the village is Grade II listed.
- The Beatles played four times at Hulme Hall, Port Sunlight in 1962, including Ringo’s first gig with the band.
- Port Sunlight Village Trust has recently acquired Bridge Cottage, the former home of William Hesketh Lever, and is opening it to the public on special occasions such as Heritage Open Days and for weddings and venue hire – check the website for details.