Port Sunlight

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The philanthropist William Hesketh Lever built the unique garden village of Port Sunlight in the late 19th century to house his soap factory workers. (Lever Brothers later developed into the mighty firm of Unilever). He used 29 different architects to design the 900 houses and public buildings, which now forms a conservation area. Originally there was a temperance hotel, a hospital, a concert hall, an open-air swimming pool and a church.

The most important building in the village however is the Lady Lever Art Gallery. (Free admission) The purpose of our recent visit was to see the latest collection on display entitled "Turner: travels, light and landscape". Some of these works are seldom displayed due to their light sensitivity, so it was a rare treat. Permanent exhibitions include paintings by Rossetti, Millais, Lord Leighton, Burne-Jones, Holman Hunt and Powell Frith. There is also a large collection of Wedgwood pottery, furniture, sculpture, tapestries, Chinese ware and classical antiquities.

You can travel to Port Sunlight via train from Liverpool or Chester. We chose to go by car on this occasion, as my sciatica was playing up. Being a weekday, we were able to park close by. The Art Gallery is very accessible -in fact it has been rated as the 5th most accessible tourist destination in the UK. The mezzanine level is the only part with no lift. free lockers are available for large bags. There is also a shop selling gifts, books and cards etc. We stopped for afternoon tea and home made cakes – the total costing about £7.

All in all it was very pleasant. I would thoroughly recommend a visit to Port Sunlight both for the art gallery and the architecture of the village itself.

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