In Pictures: Pete Carr’s Portraits Of Port Sunlight


Merseyside photographer Pete Carr has been documenting life in Port Sunlight for the past year – capturing funny, honest images from inside residents’ homes, as a way to understand how tourists see this chocolate-box, Grade II-listed place…

“They don’t realise it’s a real working village”, he says. “They go up to the windows and take photos of people having their morning cuppa.”

Here, Carr selects his favourite shots from the resulting Portraits of Port Sunlight exhibition – currently on show at The Lyceum, and marking 130 years since the Lever Brothers built the model village for their workers – and tells us the stories from behind each closed door…

Above: I just loved the mix of colour and vintage styled paintings on the wall. This was one of my earliest portraits and in some ways captures the project as a whole, showing a mix of personality and heritage.


Above: Port Sunlight has an interesting mix of architecture. Every street is different. This house basically had a living room and a kitchen downstairs and yet from outside it looked spacious. But despite the awkward design, the owner loved two things: her kitchen and her garden, which her kitchen looks out onto.


Above: Not everyone who lives in the village was born there or has family ties to it. This couple had recently moved in and the only decorated space was the Reiki room. A room of peaceful meditation with a central heating boiler squeezed into the corner.


Above: Some houses in Port Sunlight are very modern inside. You wouldn’t know it to be Port Sunlight to look at it. Nice big modern kitchens complete with cat who can easily turn the taps on and off to have a drink of water.


Above: Port Sunlight was bombed in the Second World War. Only a few houses were hit and this was one of them. As soon as I walked in the door, something felt different about the place. It wasn’t until the owner explained about the bombing that it clicked. The interior didn’t have to conform to the village look and feel like the exterior did. I found this discussion of design interesting.


Above: Carol and Cliff’s family worked for Lord Lever. His granddad was a colour printer and her grandmother was the first person Lever employed as a clerk. After her grandmother retired, Lord Lever would send a car for her so they could have lunch together.


Above: It’s interesting to think back on how dark village life must have been back then. Now we have all the luxury of being able to ask a disembodied voice in a tube to turn our wifi light bulbs on when we want it.


Above: This was the originally the nurses’ home. Some properties in Port Sunlight have kept the traditional look and feel, even down to the servant bell system. However, in this building it had been cut up into flats with fresh plaster on the walls. It was often jarring to step through a portal from Lord Lever’s time to the present day.


Above: She fell in love with the village and just had to move there leaving behind one life and creating a new one.


Above: I enjoyed seeing Port Sunlight from people’s gardens because it showed the modern world encroaching on the village. Satellite dishes. Bins. PVC conservatories. Some houses had a yard while others had apple trees, grass and vegetable patches. On the flip side this family mentioned how the house was becoming cramped for a family of 4.

As told to Laura Robertson

See Pete Carr’s Portraits of Port Sunlight at The Lyceum, Bridge Street, Port Sunlight, 11am-4pm until Friday 9 March 2018 – FREE

Meet the photographer on Friday 9 March, 2-4pm – FREE

Portraits of Port Sunlight launches Port Sunlight Week (3-9 March), a celebration of village life. For more information about the timetable of events click here. Commissioned by the Port Sunlight Village Trust, and the Arts Council England’s Museum Resilience Fund

Posted on 08/03/2018 by thedoublenegative