Port Sunlight Chapter 9 (Summary)

William Hesketh Lever (later 1st Viscount Leverhulme) was born in Bolton in 1851. The son of a grocer, Lever joined the family business at 16. At the time soap was either homemade or cut from large blocks at the grocers. Lever spotted an opportunity for marketing neatly packaged branded soap with a pleasant smell. Lever’s Sunlight Soap was one of the first products to be marketed internationally and soon became a successful global brand. The success of the business led Lever to look for a site to build a new factory in 1887. Conscious of the unsanitary, overcrowded and squalid housing that factory workers and their families had to endure, Lever’s ambition was to build a model housing village for his workers alongside the factory. Although Lever believed that a workforce that enjoyed decent living conditions would be more productive and as such building housing at Port Sunlight made commercial sense, the project was also a genuine endeavor to raise living standards for the working classes. Lever himself described his hope that the company would “build houses in which our work-people will be able to live and be comfortable. Semi-detached houses, with gardens back and front, in which they will be able to know more about the science of life than they can in a back slum, and in which they will learn that there is more enjoyment in life than a mere going to and returning from work, and looking forward to Saturday night to draw their wages,’

Project: Port Sunlight
Location: Wirral, Merseyside
Designed: 1888 onwards
Client: william hesketh lever
Architect: w.l. george, grayson & ould and others

Typology: worker housing
No. of dwellings: 930 including public buidlings
Total area: 140 acres
Density: approx 9 dwellings/acrerice of phase 2 dwellings: £230,000 to £425,000

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