William Hesketh Lever was born in Bolton in 1851 and in 1886 established a soap making business in Warrington called Lever Brothers (now part of Unilever). In 1888 the business moved to larger premises on the Wirral.
At the time household soap was traditionally sold to shops in large bars. Lever turned the industry on its head by cutting the bars into smaller pieces and packaging it ready for sale to consumers.
Initially Lever began to purchase paintings for business reasons; they were reproduced and used in advertisements for his Sunlight Soap brand. As his wealth grew he began to take an interest in art itself and went on to collect more than 20,000 works.
Lever was a great philanthropist and wanted to share his personal collection with the public. In 1922 he opened the Lady Lever Art Gallery in Port Sunlight and dedicated it to his late wife Elizabeth.
The gallery is known for its extensive collection of Victorian and pre-Raphaelite paintings, Wedgwood Jasperware, Greek vases, and 18th century furniture.
Admission to the Lady Lever Art Gallery is free. Facilities include a café with free wireless internet access, baby changing facilities, and a shop selling souvenirs and gifts.
Tours of the gallery focusing on its history, highlights of the collection, and its founder are offered regularly. For details of these and other events visit the official website.
Opening times are 10 am to 5 pm daily. Non-commercial photography without the use of flash or tripod is permitted.
Visitors coming to the Lady Lever Art Gallery by car can input the postcode CH62 5EQ into their satellite navigation system. There is free car parking outside the gallery.
Merseyrail’s Bebington train station is within walking distance of the gallery and offers frequent services to Liverpool and other areas in Merseyside.