Wednesday, 3 May 2017
Port Sunlight's houses
Port Sunlight's 800 houses were built between 1899 and 1914, to house some 3500 people. Designed to provide a healthy environment for the workforce and their families, they form a pleasant garden suburb beside the adjacent Lever Brothers soap factory, The designs, commissioned by William Hesketh Lever and produced by some 30 different architects, were influenced by William Morris and the Arts and Crafts movement.
As in Saltaire, residents were expected to conform to strict rules and regulations. Female employees at the factory had to stop work when they married. The Bridge Inn opened in 1900 as a temperance pub, since Lever himself was a strict teetotaller and non-smoker. Within a couple of years, representations were made to allow it to sell alcohol. Lever decided to hold a referendum and, unconventionally for the time, allowed women to vote too (perhaps believing that might influence the decision to stay 'dry'). In the event, 80% of voters wanted the pub licensed and Lever decided not to use his authority to stand in the way of that change.