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William Hesketh Lever

[Portrait of W.H. Lever]

40k JPEG. From a painting in the gallery, courtesy Bolton Metropolitan Borough Council.

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.

[house frontage with plaque]

44k GIF 123k JPEG 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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