Port Sunlight (Credit: Pete)

Wirral’s Model Village

Radio Clatterbridge listeners have learned more about the history behind Wirral’s famous model village.

Port Sunlight was built by Lever Brothers boss William Hesketh Lever to house his soap factory workers.

Expert John Spilletts joined the Coffee Club programme to explain all about the village, which lies three miles north-east of Clatterbridge Health Park.

He told presenters John Roberts and Paul Allt about the local history and its features.

Known as Splosh to his friends, John is a tour guide who shows visitors from home and abroad around the village.

August to September is the Port Sunlight Village Trust‘s busiest month for the tourists but John said there is an army of volunteers looking after the museum and its tours.

He explained how Lever’s ground-breaking village of model housing, named after his company’s Sunlight Soap, was designed to provide decent conditions for workers.

“His second love as well as being an industrialist was architechture. He had this vision of providing for his workforce housing and space which was bright and open.” – Tour guide John Spilletts

Built from 1888 on cheap marsh land, Lever chose the site because of good rail and road links and access to the relatively inexpensive Bromborough Dock.

During the interview, John revealed how Bridge Cottage, where William Lever and his wife Elizabeth lived while Thornton Manor was being renovated, has been bought by the Trust for part of its museum and tours.

The village and its factory have been a major focal point in local life for well over a century.

Presenter John Roberts worked for Levers as an apprentice in 1969, later returning to the firm’s service company UML.

Both Johns were part of the Port Sunlight Boys’ Club, whose members formed Radio Clatterbridge back in 1951.

“For a while we all took it in turns to come and help out here. Fifty years on, I think its wonderful that you still provide this service.”- Tour guide John Spilletts

John Spilletts (left) with John Roberts
John Spilletts with John Roberts

You can book tours via the Port Sunlight Museum near the Lady Lever Art Gallery.