Day out in Port Sunlight

Morning everyone! Enjoy this post from my regular guest blogger about a recent day out.

Today I visited the village of Port Sunlight on the Wirral. I have mentioned it before just briefly in the post on 22.1.14 (Point 5) but this was a proper look round the actual site. William Hesketh Lever, along with a small number of other Victorian businessmen, thought the way to improve the lives of their workers was to provide housing for them: think of the Cadbury family building Bourneville, Titus Salt building Saltaire, David Dale building Lanark on the banks of the Clyde, The Great Western Railway building a model village in Swindon and Richard Arkwright building Cromford amongst others. Lever built Port Sunlight to a very generous specification in that the roads were made quite wide and each house had a garden. As you walk around the roads it is surprising just how much space there is. (We saw a 50ft articulated lorry making its way round quite easily.)

We started at the Museum with its film, loads of storyboards and exhibits. It’s a fascinating story of how the whole thing came into being.

Let’s get straight in with a quiz which necessitates the use of a “Dibber” (if you’re actually there obviously). If you’re wondering what a “Dibber” is don’t worry just look in the first pic and all will be revealed. Anyway here is Question 1:


And then Question 2:


And then Question 3:


Now of course you can’t go far anywhere round the Merseyside area without finding somewhere with a Beatles connection and Port Sunlight is no exception. So here we go with a number of Beatles related items.

First off is a poster they have from the Tower Ballroom in New Brighton dated Nov 1961.


If you read the acts on the bill you will see Liverpool group Rory Storm & the Hurricanes whose drummer, at the time, was none other than Ringo Starr. Gerry & the Pacemakers were also appearing but look under The Remo Four. Who on earth calls themselves “Kingsize Taylor and the Dominoes”? The mind boggles! Actually at 6’ 5” he was pretty tall I suppose. Apparently Cilla Black sang with the group until 1962 & Ringo had turned down an offer to join the group because the Beatles offered him more money.

Now if you’d like a listen to them for a couple of mins check this out

Now look at the picture that comes in at about 28/29 secs. How strong is this guy?? Two on each arm. Very impressive!

However the biggest shock on the poster is the ticket price – 5/- (which equals 25p today)!! And for that you got 5½ hours of music!

Next up is a pic of the Beatles in their days before those famous suits they wore. (After their early trips to Hamburg they had gone for the leather look.)


By Aug 1962 Ringo had joined them and was playing drums when they appeared at a Horticultural Dance in Port Sunlight and here is the plaque


Note they are now headlining the show supported by the 4 Jays and the ticket price has gone up to 6/- (30p) since Nov 1961.

Then an exhibit which reminds us of how telephones used to look:


As we walked further round we came to the Leverhulme Hotel which was originally opened as a cottage hospital in 1907. In the forecourt is an Anton Dala sculpture called Trophy.


And the only car in the car park was THIS!!


As I was taking my pic the owner came out and he told me he gets 14 mpg out of it! Think about it. He opened the door so I could have a quick look (not a sit) inside and that’s the nearest I’ve ever been to the dashboard of a Rolls.

We had a brief look inside the hotel and there were a number of paintings around the place. I liked this one:


Just something about it.

Then it was over to the church and the burial place of Lever & his wife.


Here’s the very imposing front entrance to Lever House office building.


Then we saw some houses with an unusual design. Check this out


Can you see what caught my eye? Look at the upstairs bedroom windows. Although there is a wall separating the two houses it’s interesting that the bay windows are joined so that each house effectively only has a half of the bay.

Next stop was for some lunch at the Garden Centre Café. We put our orders in and by the time we’d got cutlery and found a window table, taken our coats off and had a couple of minutes conversation the food arrived! Couldn’t believe it – never been served that quick before. And it was really good. A plateful for £5.25 – a cheese omelette, chips (proper ones) & salad. Then finished off with a “free” pot of tea as I had a voucher from something we’d bought earlier. I got 3 cups of tea out of the pot! Brilliant food and brilliant service – well done them!! Definitely worth a visit if you’re ever in the area.

Now the next thing we came across was something I’d never heard of – an Analemmatic Sundial!


First off you stand on the area with the current month. Your shadow is cast and will intersect with one of the upright posts which will tell you the time


However the pesky sun had gone in and with the clouds around didn’t look like it was coming out again any time soon so we had to walk on.

Anyway here is a link to a pic which shows you how it works

When it opens up double click the image and you get a more detailed explanation.

There is so much to see round the village and we didn’t have time for things like the Art Gallery so went off to have a wander round the nearby village of Thornton Hough (about 4 miles away). Lever had bought a house (Thornton Manor) in the area but it’s now in private hands as a wedding venue so we couldn’t go in. Lever was concerned at the conditions people in the village were having to live in. He basically knocked all the houses down and started again. However there was a big difference here in that the people who lived in these houses were not his own workers as they were in Port Sunlight. He was just genuinely concerned by their state of health.

Time was moving on and we wanted to get back before the Friday rush hour started so it was off home for a relaxing cup of tea via The Wallasey Tunnel.

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