Painting Port Sunlight - Gordon Wilkinson's watercolours

PUBLISHED: 11:57 17 October 2011 | UPDATED: 20:09 20 February 2013

The Lady Lever Gallery

The Lady Lever Gallery

Watercolour artist Gordon Wilkinson takes his easel to this picturesque corner of Wirral

Stepping into the idyllic Port Sunlight is almost like travelling back in time. Few changes have been made to this stunning model village since it was built in 1888.

The village was created from the vision of the paternalistic businessman William Hesketh Lever for his factory workers and is named after the Sunlight soap they produced. Almost everything in the village, including around 900 houses, two museums, the village pub, tea rooms and hotel is Grade II listed and the attention to detail is awe inspiring. More than 30 architects each designed their own block of houses and every house is unique.

The gorgeous village is set in 130 acres of immaculate parkland and gardens and is home to the Port Sunlight Museum, which provides a wealth of information about the village and also offers guided and self guided walking tours along with family activities, festivals and special events throughout the year.

Another attraction is the Lady Lever Art Gallery, which was opened by Princess Beatrice in 1922 and showcases Levers personal collection of art, which he liked to show to the villagers, and also more modern artwork.

In addition to being one of the finest surviving examples of early urban planning, Port Sunlight offers a unique insight into what was essentially a social experiment by Lever, a Christian who believed in abstinence from alcohol and that happy workers were more productive the temperance hotel has now been replaced by a pub, though.

Lever provided education and entertainment for his workers and their families, with a focus on the arts, literature, science and music. He described his village as an experiment in profit sharing, but rather than share the profits directly he reinvested in the village, declaring: I shall use it to provide for you everything that makes life pleasant nice houses, comfortable homes, and healthy recreation.

And those things continue to make life in Port Sunlight a delight. Sandra Devenney moved to the village about ten years ago and said: Its such a lovely place, someone once said to me its so quiet you can almost hear the grass grow.

Sandra drove through the area when house hunting and knew immediately that Port Sunlight was where she wanted to live. Seeing people taking pictures of the village makes me really proud to be a resident, she added.

Everyone who visits seems really interested in the history of the village and with such lovely open spaces to walk its a beautiful place to live and to have a day out.

Location: The area is served by both Bebington and Port Sunlight railway stations, on the Wirral Line of the Merseyrail network, and if you have a sat nav CH62 4XB should take you to the centre.

Where to park: There are plenty of places to park around Port Sunlight.

What to do: A good place to start is the Port Sunlight Museum, where you can find information on guided and self guided tours. Everything is accessible by car, but a walk through the village to reach the attractions is highly recommended.

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