Port Sunlight named as a top destination in Which? survey

Which? surveyed 9,340 members in June 2023, and asked them to rate destinations on seven categories including food and drink, tourist attractions, scenery, attractiveness, shopping, peace and quiet, and value for money.

Port Sunlight came out in third place with a destination score of 80 per cent, tied with Dorset’s Corfe Castle.

Port Sunlight offers visitors a unique glimpse into the past. The village was built by William Hesketh Lever from 1888 to provide 900 homes to house the workers of his soap factory, and is named after his popular ‘Sunlight’ soap.

The village scored four stars out of five for attractiveness, tourist attractions and value for money. It also scored a full five stars for peace and quiet.

Port Sunlight contains 900 Grade II listed buildings, and was declared a conservation area in 1978. Port Sunlight has been informally suggested for World Heritage Site (WHS) status to protect it from development and to preserve the unique character for future generations; however, it is not yet on the current UK “tentative list” for future consideration as a WHS.

One of the great buildings in Port Sunlight is the Lady Lever Art Gallery. A keen art collector, Lever travelled all over the world and liked to show the villagers the art he collected. Opened in 1922 by Princess Beatrice, the art gallery shows Lever’s collection and modern-day artwork. The collection includes a range of furniture, paintings, sculptures and ceramics.

Other notable buildings include the Lyceum, the Gladstone Theatre, Hesketh Hall, which housed the local branch of the Royal British Legion until 2013, when it was converted into 13 flats, and the “Bridge Inn” public house.

The village contains Christ Church, a United Reformed Church, and opposite is a small primary school. Church Drive Primary School is open to people living outside the village and residents. There is a war memorial by Goscombe John in the village centre in memory of soldiers that died in World War I.

The Cottage Hospital, opened in 1907, was closed for many years but refurbished and reopened in 2008 as the Leverhulme Hotel.

Until the 1980s, all residents were employees of Unilever and their families. During this decade the houses were first sold privately.

Rory Boland, Editor of Which? Travel said, “From famed tourist towns to lesser-known villages, this year’s survey has captured the range of unique destinations the UK has to offer.

“While the picturesque South West took the top spots, there are beautiful towns and villages in Scotland, Wales and from across England in the top ten – meaning there is a fantastic place to visit on your doorstep no matter where you live.”

Image: Port Sunlight Village Trust/David-Jones

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