Port Sunlight bids to be World Heritage Site

Historic Wirral village Port Sunlight is bidding to become a World Heritage Site – less that a year after Liverpool was stripped of its status. Tony McDonough reports

Port Sunlight
Port Sunlight village could become a World Heritage Site. Picture by Tony McDonough

 

Port Sunlight village in Wirral could achieve World Heritage Status under plans revealed on Thursday.

Port Sunlight Village Trust (PSVT) is teaming up with Wirral Council to mount the bid. It comes less than a year after Liverpool was stripped of its WHS by UNESCO. That decision came after a long-running dispute over waterfront development.

Port Sunlight is a village in Wirral built 130 years ago on former marshland by industrialist William Hesketh Lever. He wanted to offer homes to the workers at his soap factory. It comprises 900 Grade II-listed buildings within 130 acres of parkland.

Now the UK Government has reopened the ‘Tentative List’ for new WHS sites. PSVT sees this as a once-in-a-decade opportunity to gain global recognition. Chief executive Paul Harris said: “The UK’s Tentative List is typically only reviewed at 10-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. And we have weighed up the potential impact for heritage and people, and considered the needs of our businesses.”

READ MORE: Port Sunlight unveils green strategy

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, PSVT and key stakeholders reconsidered inscription.

 

Port Sunlight
Port Sunlight was built 130 years ago by industrialist William Hesketh Lever
Port Sunlight
Port Sunlight village is home to a museum, gallery and theatre. Picture by Tony McDonough
Port Sunlight
Port Sunlight Village Trust is leading the WHS bid. Picture by Tony McDonough

 

It is putting together a bid for Port Sunlight to be recognised as a World Heritage Site. It has support from strategic partners Wirral Council, National Museums Liverpool and Unilever.

If successful, Port Sunlight could be ranked alongside other globally significant communities. These include Saltaire and New Lanark, and famous landmarks such as Stonehenge and The Taj Mahal.

Leader of Wirral Council, Janette Williamson, added: “We have witnessed first-hand the remarkable character and passion of this village. The team of staff and volunteers has to achieve this enormous global accolade. It is a place that so many communities on the Wirral feel such pride for.”

PSVT is holding a series of consultation events:

  • Monday, June 27, New Ferry – Bebington Rd (pedestrian zone) between 2.30pm and 6.30pm.
  • Wednesday, June 26, Bebington Civic Centre, CH63 7PT between 2.30pm and 6.30pm.
  • Thursday, June 30, Port Sunlight Museum Green CH62 5DX (next to Port Sunlight Museum) between 2.30pm and 6.30pm.

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

If you are unable to attend the public consultation in-person, you can complete a short survey by clicking here. Alternatively you can request a hard copy from the main office, or call 0151 644 4800 or email feedback@portsunlightvillage.com

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