We spent a morning in Port Sunlight, a picturesque village on the Wirral Peninsula in Cheshire. The village was built at the end of the 19th century by William Lever (think Sunlight dish detergent or Unilever) for workers in his soap factory.
Lever had always been interested in architecture, and the village was his pet project. He envisioned it as a “profit-sharing” (rather than philanthropic) scheme, because he invested the company’s profit into providing his workers with housing, education, and entertainment.
Almost thirty different architects worked on the village, so each block has a different character and each house is unique.
Lever was an art collector, and he housed his collection in the Lady Lever Art Gallery, which is the crown jewel of the village.
The scale of it is perfect for a leisurely visit. In one morning, you can wander around the whole museum, which houses everything from Chinese snuff bottles to Wedgwood jasperware, furniture and pre-Raphaelite paintings.
We had a cup of tea in the café, then headed back to Manchester, with a brief stop at Parkgate, a village that was once a seaside resort. The shoreline has silted up over the years, and what was once a beach has now become marshland.