We are custodians of an incredibly special heritage site. Our fundamental role, above all else, is to care for Port Sunlight’s heritage and to use it to inspire, educate and entertain. Respect is one of our core charitable values; we value diversity and aspire to treat everyone fairly.

The Black Lives Matter Movement has recently brought this into sharp focus. We have come to realise that we are not wholly fulfilling our responsibilities as custodians of Port Sunlight, nor are we upholding our values to our own exacting standards.

Over the last couple of months, the Leverhulme Memorial in Port Sunlight has become the focus of criticism and debate. We have, up until now, presented the memorial as symbolising the different pillars of William Lever’s business philosophy – industry, charity, education, and the arts. However, like the memorial, we are not presenting the more difficult and challenging aspects of William Lever’s business practices both in our museum and the public realm in Port Sunlight; not just his activities and their legacies in the former Belgian Congo, but the impact he may have had on other communities both near and far.

Since launching our new strategic plan in 2019, we have taken the time to re-define our story and identify our priorities for the future. We now fully recognise the need to be bolder, challenging, thought-provoking and relevant. Our next steps will be a significant departure from what has gone before. We are committed to telling a fuller and more balanced story, which will include William Lever’s colonialist enterprises in Central Africa and elsewhere and, wherever necessary, highlight the racism within that story.

The challenge of retelling William Lever’s story is not ours alone, we must do it with our partners and our community, both global and local. Rather than dismantling Port Sunlight’s heritage, we want help to bring new meaning to it, encourage fresh perspectives, promote conversation, and ultimately ensure that the village can be fully understood by everyone and reflect a true picture of events. In this we will do better.

Our start point will be education, our own and that of our stakeholders.

In the coming weeks and months, we will share more information about our support for and commitment to the Black Lives Matter Movement. Please keep checking our website portsunlightvillage.com for further updates.