William Hesketh Lever
Mr. William Hesketh Lever (1851
- 1925). He was born in Bolton at 16 Wood Street on September 19th 1851. He
started work in the families wholesale grocery business at the age of 16,
cutting and packing soap. He married Elizabeth Hulme and started the famous
soap manufacturing company in Warrington, which later moved to Port Sunlight in Birkenhead and
manufactures many household name products under the Unilever brand name. He,
along with William Hough Watson, a chemist from Bolton, developed a soap they
called Sunlight, by using vegetable oil instead of tallow.
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Number 16 Wood Street, birthplace of Lever 1996
Lever made a large personal fortune from this, however he didn't forget his
roots, and gave to his home town. He bought Hall
i'th' Wood, equipped it as a folk museum, and presented to Bolton in 1899,
having an official opening on July 23rd 1902. He assisted in the building of
Bolton School, and Leverhulme Park also bears his name. Shortly after buying
the Rivington estate with around 400 acres of
land, he donated much of it to the people of Bolton with a grand ceremony held
at Rivington Hall barn.
He also funded the Congregational Church on Blackburn Road, he was Member of
Parliament for Wirral, knighted, made a Baron and became the 1st Viscount
Leverhulme, made a Freeman of Bolton on November 10th 1902. He was Mayor of
Bolton in 1918.
Lever died on 7th May 1925 in London.
Lever Park was bought in 1900.
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