Port Sunlight - like the village in Hot Fuzz but with fewer murders
Port Sunlight is located on the Wirral and was founded in 1888 by “Soap King” William Hesketh Lever. Lever wasn’t a soap king in the way Danny Dyer is; he literally made soap – well his employees did.
The village was created to provide housing for the workers of the Lever Brothers’ (now Unilever) factory, and it is named after their most popular brand of dishwashing detergent, Sunlight.
William Lever was keen to “socialise and Christianise business relations” – in a way that was not dissimilar to Joseph Rowntree, (him of KitKat fame). Port Sunlight was an exercise in profit sharing - where proceeds from the factory were invested into the village, rather than giving them directly to the workers. As Lever explained: "It would not do you much good if you send it down your throats in the form of bottles of whisky, bags of sweets, or fat geese at Christmas. On the other hand, if you leave the money with me, I shall use it to provide for you everything that makes life pleasant – nice houses, comfortable homes, and healthy recreation.” A slightly dictatorial stance, but one that was ultimately for the greater good.
Continuing Lever’s socially conscious legacy, the beautiful Port Sunlight properties are not for sale. Instead, the Port Sunlight Village Trust (PSVT) rent them out with long-term leases. With prices starting from £550 per month, for a one-bedroom property, they are also affordable for many people. I doubt this would have been the case if the properties had been sold.
Port Sunlight is certainly one of the most charming places I have ever visited, although it did remind me a bit of the village in Hot Fuzz, as it was almost too perfect. It didn’t have a Somerfield, complete with criminal discounts though, so I guess nowhere is flawless.
It is also the birthplace of pop star Pete Burns, God rest him, and a filming location for Peaky Blinders (for Aunt Polly’s “posh house” – although it is meant to be Sutton Coldfield). It has a museum, a world-class art gallery, which looks like a miniature version of the British Museum, beautiful surroundings and a thriving community.
I cannot wait to return!