Friday 21 October 2016

Port Sunlight

I came across the story of Port Sunlight in a local magazine and since then I've wanted to visit it. It's a small village just a few miles away from Liverpool, founded by the 'Soap King', William Lever. He was notorious for being passionate about the Sunlight Soap he was selling and in the end of the 19th century, he decided that soap shouldn't be an expensive product and everybody should have the right to be clean. He then went on to build his factory in the then empty marshland that became Port Sunlight, and asked no less than 30 different architects to build top quality homes for his employees.

The first thing we did was visit the museum to learn a little bit more about the village, its history and the century it was founded in. I'm particularly interested about the living conditions around Britain during the end of the 19th Century. Lever's priority was to make sure that every house had a bath and running hot water, which was quite amazing for that time. Toilets weren't shared and all his employees had a garden to look after. Very far from the slums in the big cities! There were rules, but at the time, with a shop, theatre and many activities available in the village, people were quite happy to follow the rules for better living conditions.

The village is now home to a massive Unilever factory (result of Lever Brothers merging with a Dutch company later on) but it's not an issue as the houses and streets haven't changed and we really enjoyed walking around and looking at the beautiful details of each house. It definitely inspired us for our future home! We also visited the church and I had to keep Jason away from the local pub ;)

Although we were a bit late visiting the Lady Lever gallery, I would definitely recommend it because the few rooms that we saw were great (and it's free!). The gallery contains the art that William Lever and his wife collected over the years as well as some small rooms here and there that display the luxurious furniture and decorations a rich family would have in their house in the late 19th Century.

It was a great relaxing afternoon and although you feel like a right tourist taking photos of people's houses, I loved learning about the history of it and how avant-garde it all was at the time. Fascinating!

Have a look at their website right here :)

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