PSVT and University of Manchester partner in heritage project

PSVT and University of Manchester partner in heritage project

Port Sunlight Village Trust (PSVT) and the Institute of Cultural Practices at the University of Manchester are partnering in an 18-month project to transform the ways in which Port Sunlight’s history and collections are interpreted and understood. 

The project will be led by an Inclusive Heritage Associate, a new and dedicated post, for which recruitment is about to commence. The focus of their work will be to design and deliver a number of pilot projects in relation to the village’s founder William Lever and the exploitation of Lever Brothers’ Congolese employees in the 20th century.

The post is funded through a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) award, a UK Government scheme intended to promote sustained and mutually beneficial relationships between universities and industry.

The Black Lives Matter movement (BLM) has had a profound effect on the museum and heritage sector, calling into question the ways in which we discuss and deal with racial prejudice in the UK. The demand for action on questions of sensitive heritage continues to grow. This project represents an important part of Port Sunlight’s response.

Until recently, the story of Port Sunlight’s founding, by industrialist William Lever, has centred on his deserved reputation for philanthropy and support for progressing worker’s rights in the last century. However, PSVT recognises that it is now critical for the organisation to explore a fuller story of the village’s founder, encompassing, amongst other storylines, the exploitation of Lever Brother’s Congolese employees during the twentieth century.

Paul Harris, CEO of PSVT said:

“It’s time to start talking about all aspects of Port Sunlight’s history and legacy, the good and the bad. Not only is it the right thing to do, but it is also critical to the future sustainability of our business. But we cannot do it alone, we must do it with the local community, our visitors, and our partners. This project will lay some really strong foundations for us and we are delighted to be partnering with the Institute of Cultural Practices at the University of Manchester and drawing on their knowledge and expertise which will be so critical to our work.”

Dr. Kostas Arvanitis, Director of the Institute for Cultural Practices, University of Manchester said:

“The Institute for Cultural Practice and University of Manchester are delighted to be collaborating with Port Sunlight and their partners on this timely knowledge transfer project which aligns with our research priorities and commitment to social justice.”

Over the course of the 18-month project, the Inclusive Heritage Associate will work with the PSVT workforce to ensure more diverse voices are heard on the site’s heritage, to support residents and the local community in taking a more active role in village life, to develop engaging interpretation about Port Sunlight’s relevance and meaning, and to put new structures in place to support staff, volunteers, community members and visitors through changing heritage narratives.

The project will also provide the opportunity to develop, expand and disseminate new knowledge in heritage interpretation within the sector.

More information about the post can be found here

Read more about PSVT’s commitment to Equity, Diversity & Inclusion here 


Notes to editors

Media contact:

Helen Lawless

T: 07841524288

E: [email protected]


Notes to Editors

Port Sunlight Village Trust

23 King George’s Drive

Port Sunlight


CH62 5DX

T: 0151 644 6466

E: [email protected]


About Port Sunlight and Port Sunlight Village Trust (PSVT): 

Port Sunlight is the UK’s finest example of an industrial worker village and early Garden City planning. The founder William Lever changed industry’s attitudes to ordinary workers. He also helped to create a healthier nation by encouraging and promoting washing and good hygiene practices.

Port Sunlight Village Trust is an independent charity founded in 1999 whose vision is to make Port Sunlight an inspiring place to live, work and visit. As guardians of Port Sunlight’s unique heritage, PSVT works with the community and partners to ensure a great quality of life for residents and to celebrate William Lever’s amazing legacy through cultural and learning experiences for all.