The house that soap built

Today, the female partner in Lambert Tours worked with her Northern associate to plan a lovely day for me in Liverpool. 

This was a girls’ day out, which officially started – as all such days should – with a proper tea and lots of lovely catching up with the third member of this now-official sisterhood of self-proclaimed fascinating women. We were joined by a daughter, a nephew, and we created a fair amount of noise in what had once been a nice quiet tea room. Great fun. (We were able to avoid the special “New York Tea,” which evidently comes with a small hot dog, hamburger, and mac ‘n cheese. Horrors.)

But there were sights to be seen and new parts of Liverpool to be admired.

We tunneled (rather than ferried) across the Mersey to what is known as Port Sunlight. It is the spot where in 1889 William Lever built both his Sunlight soap works and a model village to house his employees. The village eventually contained 800 houses, allotments, a hospital, schools, concert hall, swimming pool, church and the Lady Lever Art Gallery, to inspire the workers.

The houses were anything but cookie-cutter, and they are very prized real estate today. How enlightened of Lord Lever to think of his employees as whole people, who would benefit from all kinds of nourishment. How rare.

While Lord Lever’s collecting tastes were broad, there is a nice emphasis on Victorian painting, including the Pre-Raphaelites, just my cup of tea.

The museum reputedly has the largest jasperware collection in the world, so the Wedgwood rooms were stunning.

Other collections were equally lovely and the entire effect was charmingly impressive. Not half-bad for a small local museum.

I had wonderful guides to a part of greater Liverpool that I suspect few tourists get to see. The more I see of this city, the more impressed I am. (Plus there was a lot of laughing and tea cakes.)


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