Port Sunlight: Francis McKeown 23.1.2000

I am ashamed to say it wasn’t until 2017 that we eventually visited Port Sunlight on the Wirral in Merseyside and it was as lovely as I had been told it would be.  The village of Port Sunlight was built by William Hesketh Lever (1851-1925) to provide housing for the workers at his Lever Brothers factory [now part of Unilever] named after the Sunlight Soap made there.  Lever’s vision was for decent housing for his workers in a pleasing architectural style and he included bathrooms and running water in his houses, not something people took for granted at the time.  He called this ‘prosperity-sharing’ and aimed to ensure his workers felt secure and comfortable.  He campaigned for welfare reforms and a shorter working day for employees.  The village has many wonderful public buildings including the Lady Lever Art Gallery, dedicated to the memory of William Hesketh Lever’s wife, Elizabeth and the gallery contains some works of art from his personal art collection.

It was summer when we visited and after looking in the gallery we wandered through the wide tree-lined streets and colourful gardens.  The houses are picturesque, beautifully designed and carefully maintained and the peaceful atmosphere helps you forget the city of Liverpool is just across the river.  If like me you have been putting off visiting Port Sunlight then I suggest you get round to it as soon as possible.

2017 June Liverpool and Port Sunlight (8).JPG

Port Sunlight on the Wirral

There are numerous memorial benches at Port Sunlight, it is clearly a special place to many people; I picked out this bench in the gardens leading up to the war memorial.  It is dedicated to Francis McKeown who died at the impressive age of 95-years and who is described as ‘The Village Sweep.’  The bench remembering Francis McKeown looks over rose bushes and to the houses on Queen Mary’s Drive.  My research hasn’t revealed if he was the local chimney sweep or cleared up the litter in the village but I am sure there is someone out there who will know why he is so fondly remembered.

2017 June Liverpool and Port Sunlight (7)

In loving memory of FRANCIS McKEOWN ‘The Village Sweep’ Died 23.1.2000 Aged 95 years

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