Port Sunlight announces World Heritage bid

The UK Government’s open call for applications to the Tentative List for World Heritage Site (WHS) inscription gives the exemplary worker village Port Sunlight a once-in-a-decade opportunity to be considered for global recognition.

Since 2000, the question of Port Sunlight’s eligibility for WHS inscription has been raised by the community and local politicians. As part of its strategic and conservation planning in 2018, village custodians Port Sunlight Village Trust (PSVT) and key stakeholders reconsidered WHS inscription and this time determined that it was a realistic opportunity for Wirral, the community and the heritage site.

Today, PSVT are putting together a bid for Port Sunlight to be recognised as a World Heritage Site, with support from strategic partners Wirral Council, National Museums Liverpool and Unilever.

 Paul Harris, Chief Executive at PSVT explains, “The UK’s Tentative List is typically only reviewed at ten-yearly intervals so this is a rare opportunity that must be seized. Port Sunlight’s ambition for inscription has really developed over two decades. We have done our research, sought expert advice, learnt from others, talked to and reflected on the needs of stakeholders and constituents, weighed up the potential impact for heritage and people, and considered the needs of our businesses.

“We are pursuing inscription to celebrate Port Sunlight’s global value – a radical and influential innovation in community design and development for well-being and productivity for all people. In addition, we believe that inscription will support and inspire further collaborative working with our community and stakeholders, engagement with other inscribed sites and research institutions to unlock the site’s global legacies, increase opportunities for local enterprise, and foster pride.” 

If successful, Port Sunlight could be ranked alongside other globally significant communities, including Saltaire and New Lanark, and famous landmarks such as Stonehenge and The Tower of London. Department for Digital Culture Media and Sport (DCMS) will select up to ten UK sites to join the Tentative List and announce the results of the bidding process in late Autumn 2022.

Alyson Pollard, Head of Lady Lever Art Gallery at National Museums Liverpool (NML) and partner for the bid comments, “National Museums Liverpool is delighted to support Port Sunlight Village in its application to be on the UK’s tentative list for World Heritage Site status. The village has a unique and significant history in terms of its architecture and industrial heritage. The opportunity to share this more widely with visitors as a result of a such an accolade would be wonderful for Wirral and the local community.”

Leader of Wirral Council Janette Williamson and partner for the bid comment, “As an active partner of the bid, we have witnessed first-hand the remarkable character and passion this village, and the team of staff and volunteers has to achieve this enormous global accolade; a place that so many communities on the Wirral feel such pride for. We look forward to working with them, in every way possible, to achieve a successful outcome.” 

Cameron Jones, Head of Unilever Port Sunlight, and partner for the bid comments, “Unilever is pleased to support Port Sunlight Village Trust in its application to join the World Heritage Site tentative list. We are very proud of our historic UK home, created by our company founder, William Lever, to provide his Sunlight Soap workers with decent and affordable houses. Port Sunlight today is home to our Persil, Comfort and Tresemme factories and Global Research & Development site. We look forward to seeing how we can help the Trust as they progress their application.”

PSVT has commissioned community engagement specialists PLACED to assist in delivering some public engagement events for all Port Sunlight’s stakeholders. This will provide opportunities for individuals and organisations to come and explore with the Team what World Heritage Status could mean for the village and Wirral as a whole. 

Paul Harris, Chief Executive of Port Sunlight Village Trust continues, “By holding these pop-up events, we hope the public and local businesses can come and share their views and learn more about this ambitious opportunity. Stakeholder engagement is key to shaping this bid and we also want to share the fantastic progress that has already been made.”

Pop Up Consultation Events:

Date: Monday 27 June New Ferry – Bebington Rd (pedestrian zone) between 2.30-6.30pm

Date: Wednesday 29 June Bebington – Civic Centre, CH63 7PT between 2.30-6.30pm

Date: Thursday 30 June Port Sunlight – Port Sunlight Museum Green CH62 5DX

(next to Port Sunlight Museum) between 2.30-6.30pm

For more information about the pop-up events and what World Heritage Status might mean for Port Sunlight, visit our dedicated page www.portsunlightvillage.com/worldheritage   

If you are unable to attend the public consultation in-person, you can complete a short survey https://www.surveylegend.com/s/48ba  Or alternatively you can request a hard copy from the main office, or call 0151 644 4800 or email [email protected]   

Image: Historic England Archive, Bridge St. Port Sunlight 

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