Free learning resources from arts, cultural and heritage organisations.

Teachers' Notes

Resource created by Unilever Archives.

Port Sunlight on the Wirral was designed by William Lever in the late 19th to early 20th Century to provide living and working facilities for his workforce.

This resource explores the planning and development of Port Sunlight, why it was innovative in its day and the impact it had on the people who lived there. Archive images from Unilever enable students to access primary resources to inform their understanding of the significance of Port Sunlight; how it compared with living conditions for factory workers at the time and how it has informed town planning today.

Curriculum Links

  • KS2 History:
    Changes in an aspect of social history in the 20th century
    Understand historical concepts such as cause and consequence, continuity and change etc
    Understand methods of historical enquiry
  • KS3 History:
    Challenges for Britain, Europe and the wider world 1901 to the present day
    Cultural and technological change in post war society

Learning Objectives

  • To understanding the living conditions in the 19th Century brought about as a result of the industrial revolution effected people’s lives in a negative way.
  • To understand the positive impact that the development of Port Sunlight had on the health and wellbeing of the workers at the time.
  • To develop historical enquiry skills, using primary evidence from the Unilever archive to gain an informed understanding of the past.
  • To use primary evidence to compare and contrast lives of people in the past with present day.
  • To understand the significance of Port Sunlight in town planning innovation.
  • To understand the importance of conservation of historically significant places.

Discussion Points and Activities

Planning Port Sunlight

  1. William Lever planned Port Sunlight to make the village 'Liveable and Healthy' for the workers in his factory. Using the image 'Plan of the Village of Port Sunlight', identify and list the main features which were designed. List the buildings and features into the following categories: Health; Leisure (things for people to do when they are not a work or school); Education; Public Safety; Food.
  2. Compare the plan of Port Sunlight to a map of urban Victorian Liverpool in the 1890s. What is similar and what is different? Think about the spaces between houses and public amenities.
  3. Compare the plan of Port Sunlight to a map of the students’ local area. What is the same and what is different?
  4. What difference did William Lever want Port Sunlight to have on the people who lived there? Read William Lever’s speech.

Industry and Place

  1. Port Sunlight was created because William Lever needed a new factory for his Soap Works. List the main industries in your local area that might have brought people to live there.
  2. Have any industries in the local area shut down or changed? How has this impacted on the people who live there?

Compare and Contrast Homes

  1. Study the four images of homes (Primrose Hill before Port Sunlight, 1914 Cottage Back Garden, Primrose Hill 1936, Cottage interior Park Road). Compare the Primrose Hill before Port Sunlight to the other images of Port Sunlight.
    a. What are the main differences in the homes?
    b. Think about how people would feel living in Primrose Hill before, compare this to how people would feel when they moved to Port Sunlight.
  2. Look at the image of the interior of the cottage on Park Road. Compare this to your own living room. Create a Venn diagram illustrating the similarities and differences.

Port Sunlight Then and Now

  1. Port Sunlight is still a place where people live and work today. Discuss what is the same and what is different between Port Sunlight in 1914 and today.
  2. There have been very few changes to the numbers of buildings, style of houses and layout of the village. Do you think it is important to keep Port Sunlight as it is? Why / why not?