Port Sunlight tells its story of life during COVID-19

A new online hub, Be Port Sunlight, has been set up by Port Sunlight Village Trust to tell the story of the historic Merseyside village during the COVID-19 pandemic

Port Sunlight
New hub tells the story of Port Sunlight during COVID-19. Picture by Tony McDonough

 

A virtual hub has been set top to tell the story of life in Merseyside’s history Port Sunlight Village during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Port Sunlight Village Trust (PSVT) has launched Be Port Sunlight, a new online hub containing an archive of audio and visual documents which convey a sense of life in the village over the past 12 months.

Featuring homemade NHS ‘thank you’ signs, pandemic poetry and virtual pubs, www.beportsunlight.co provides a snapshot of the intimate and shared moments which occurred in one historic village and conservation area during this time.

A series of themed podcasts present oral histories centering around four themes that reflect the foundations of civic life in the village: architecture, culture, economy, and environment.

The launch of Be Port Sunlight represents an important start point for this new online hub. The Port Sunlight Community are being invited to contribute further content as lockdown restrictions ease in 2021. The documents will become part of PSVT’s museum collection as a permanent record of the pandemic’s impact. An exhibition is planned on-site later in the year.

Be Port Sunlight is part of a wider project funded by Historic England as part of its COVID-19 Emergency Response funding. PSVT embarked on A village in lockdown back in autumn 2020 to better understand and document the impact of COVID-19 on the people and heritage of the village.

Consultancy CounterCulture was commissioned to deliver stakeholder research and consultation and take a curatorial approach to documenting the project. The findings will be used to revise PSVT’s corporate plans in 2021 as part of the organisation’s recovery planning.

It will be shared with other planned communities and Section 19 Towns such as Bournville, Saltaire and Letchworth who face similar challenges in balancing heritage conservation with 21st century living.

Anna Du Noyer
Port Sunlight resident Anna Du Noyer offers her ‘poems of the pandemic’

 

Paul Harris, chief executive at PSVT said: “The pandemic has impacted life across the world in ways we could not have imagined and are yet to fully comprehend.

“As custodian of Port Sunlight, its critical for us understand the short, medium and long-term impacts of COVID-19, as well as the opportunities that have emerged, in order to support the recovery of residents and businesses.”

Built by industrialist William Hesketh Lever at the end of the 19th century, Port Sunlight is a conservation area which includes 900 Grade II-listed buildings within 130 acres of parkland. It is home to 2,065 people and comprises almost 1,100 residential properties.

Jo Marsh, director at CounterCulture, added: “PSVT’s brief, A Village in Lockdown, captured our attention as an opportunity to research, identify and share the impact of a global pandemic on the unique context and community of Port Sunlight.”

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