Sunday, July 19, 2015


This is an advert from The Graphic of November 18, 1899. It goes on to say, "SUNLIGHT SOAP is undoubtedly THE BEST SOAP in the World for all-round use." It was the product that set William Lever, the son of a Bolton wholesale grocer, on his way to amassing a personal fortune. His first purchase of paintings which could be used to market his bars of soap led to him becoming a great collector. Read about him here.

The Lady Lever Art Gallery in Port Sunlight is a wonderful place. Lever built it to house his extensive collection of art and other items, and named it after his wife, Elizabeth. It was opened in 1922, see here.

It was one of these places that had been on my 'must visit' list for a while, and it was duly ticked off yesterday. But not entirely. So interesting and enjoyable was my day, that I hope I will be able to return, particularly to see the South Galleries which are currently under restoration.

The main hall.

I took advantage of an introductory tour, and I'm so glad I did. This was our 'visitor host' Cliff, who was just brilliant. Full marks to him. He's standing beside 'The Scapegoat' painted by William Holman Hunt in 1854. This painting was purchased by Lever in 1923.

The gallery's paintings can be seen here.

I'm not usually a big fan of old furniture, but Cliff changed that with his explanations of many of the items on show.

Port Sunlight village is a fascinating place, and it was interesting to walk through it. Lever built it as a place for his workers to live. More info here.

Formal gardens are a rarity these days. I enjoyed seeing the large blocks of roses of one variety, with a name label, once a common feature in public parks. I just wanted to get my secateurs out and start dead heading!

One of the most impressive, and moving, war memorials in the UK is this one on Port Sunlight. The full story is here.

I had just one other stop to make on my way home from Port Sunlight ...

When I was last in Birkenhead I visited the transport museum, see here, but on that day no trams were running on the short stretch of track from the museum to the Pier Head. I had better success yesterday. What a sight!

Dating from 1931-2, the history of this tram is here.

Photos © Skip Cottage

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