Days Out: Port Sunlight

Taking a Merseyrail train from Chester station is a fun way to travel to Port Sunlight, which is only a short walk from Bebington Station.

Arriving on foot somehow enhances the eerie sensation of stepping back in time and into an idyllic community quite unlike anything else you’ll find in the North West of England, or anywhere else for that matter.

Port Sunlight was famously built by Lever Brothers to accommodate workers in its soap factory, with construction beginning in 1888. Apart from television aerials and motor cars, not that much appears to have changed in more than a century.

Today it must easily be one of the most desirable places to live on Merseyside’s Wirral Peninsula, a collection of pretty chocolate box-perfect private residences protected by Conservation Area status since 1978.

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As well as the rows of neat and tidy properties and an impressive memorial to the Port Sunlight residents killed during two world wars, there are two main visitor attractions.

One is the Port Sunlight Museum (adults: £3.95; children 5-16: £2.75; concessions: £3.50), which promises an insight into the history of Port Sunlight and the experiences of the people who lived and live there.

Offering free admission, and with enough to see to keep a family occupied for at least a couple of hours, is the Lady Lever Art Gallery. The gallery was founded by William Hesketh Lever and is dedicated to the memory of his wife Elizabeth.

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Making a visit even more worthwhile until 18 January 2015 is an exhibition entitled: Style From The Small Screen (see gallery above) which contains some of the dresses designed for Downton Abbey and worn by characters such as the Dowager Countess of Grantham, Lady Mary and Lady Grantham.

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If you’re planning a visit after the exhibition has ended, you’ll still be able to see one of the UK’s finest collections of fine and decorative art. Keep an eye out for the busts of Caligula and Pan, which might take some explaining to the kids!

Getting there:
Port Sunlight Village,
CH62 5EQ,

How Much?: Free if you don’t pay to go in the museum, with a really nice cafe restaurant in the basement of the gallery.

Verdict: Combined with a few hours wandering around Chester, a visit to Port Sunlight forms part of a great day out with something for all the family.