Children in the Fields, Bolton Road, J. George Davies.

Lever and the birth of the village

William Hesketh Lever (later Viscount Leverhulme) built Port Sunlight to house the workers at his soap factory, Lever Brothers, which eventually became the global giant, Unilever. The village holds a unique place in the history of urban planning and represents one man’s vision to provide industrial workers with decent, sanitary housing in a considered architectural and picturesque form.

However, rather than a philanthropic venture, Lever claimed it was all part of a business model he termed ‘prosperity-sharing’. Rather than sharing the profits of the company directly with his employees, Lever provided them with decent and affordable houses, amenities and welfare provisions that made their lives secure and comfortable and enabled them to flourish as people. It was also intended to inspire loyalty and commitment.

Lever also campaigned for better welfare and a shorter working day, and supported education and medical projects. His passion for art and architecture can be seen throughout the village, not just at the purpose-built Lady Lever Art Gallery, making the village an enduring testament to his remarkable achievements.

 

William Hesketh Lever in 1901

William Hesketh Lever in 1901