About Us

Port Sunlight Museum & Garden Village

Port Sunlight Village Trust is a registered charity Number 1074713 set up by Unilever in 1999. The Trust manages Port Sunlight Museum, all of the green spaces in Port Sunlight, some 250 houses and eight principal buildings. The Trust operates under the registered trademark Port Sunlight Museum & Garden Village. For more information, please visit the public website www.portsunlightvillage.com.

The Trust is managed by a Board of Trustees employing a number of professional staff and a team of gardeners. Services for repairs and maintenance work, architecture, building surveying and legal matters are procured from external firms and consultants as and when required.

Mission Statement

The whole village is a conservation area with virtually every building within it Grade II listed.

The Trust's mission is to:

  1. Preserve and maintain the Port Sunlight conservation area its character, amenities, architectural and constructional heritage of buildings and open spaces or otherwise that are of beauty, architectural or constructional interest.
  2. Promote understanding of the ideas underlying the foundation and development of the Port Sunlight conservation area, their social and economic context and their relevance to issues in the modern world.

The Trust is working to fulfill this mission at all times by:

  1. Working to fulfill the goals and policies of the Conservation & Management Plan
  2. Carrying out visual conditions surveys of all of the housing stock in the village to monitor, arrest and reverse erosion
  3. Raising awareness of the risks to historic buildings and educating residents and tradesmen in best practice

Meet the Trustees

The Trust is governed by a group of eight voluntary Trustees supported by a professional staff led by a Chief Executive. The Trustees are Maggie Sparks (Chair), Emma Chaplin, Peter de Figueiredo, John Cocker, Gethin Owens, Carol Cuthell, Danny French and David Rooke. We highlight a few of the Trustees below.

Maggie Sparks (Chair)

Maggie is a Company Member, ex Chair and Board Director of the Wirral Partnership Homes, now trading as Magenta Living, a Registered Social Landlord based in Birkenhead. She is also a Board Member, Chair of the Customer Services and Performance Committee and Member of Organisational Development and Governance Committee for the Pierhead Housing Association based in Liverpool.

Her career in housing commenced in 1972 when she was employed by George Wimpey & Co. as a Sales Negotiator. In 1974 she moved into Social Housing as a Property Buyer for Merseyside Improved Houses, now known as Riverside Housing Association. Maggie purchased property and land in and around Birkenhead, Wallasey, Rock Ferry and New Ferry until 1983 when she became Chief Executive of Family Housing Association (Birkenhead & Wirral) Ltd., a position she held until retiring in 2002.

During this time Unilever sold approximately sixty flats and ten houses in the Village to Family Housing Association for refurbishment as they were not considered suitable for sale on the open market. In 1999 when the Port Sunlight Village Trust was set up, Unilever invited Maggie to take one of the three Trustee positions as it was considered that village connection and housing management experience would be of benefit to the Trust. It was with both pride and sadness that she accepted the Chair of the Trust on the sudden death of the previous Chair in March 2007.

Emma Chaplin

Emma Chaplin is a consultant working with museum and heritage organisations across the UK and has lived on the Wirral for the last 20 years. Her background is in museum collections management, having previously held posts including Heritage & Museums Officer for Cheshire County Council, Principal Museums Officer for Flintshire County Council and Keeper of Collections for the (then) Boat Museum in Ellesmere Port.

She holds the Fellowship of the Museums Association, is a member of the Museums and Attractions Partnership for the Canal and River Trust and is the co-author of the 'Setting up a New Museum' Success Guide for the Association of Independent Museums.

Peter de Figueiredo

Peter de Figueiredo is an architect and architectural historian who has spent most of his life on Merseyside. Starting his career in private practice, he later served as Conservation Officer for the City of Chester and Historic Buildings Inspector for English Heritage. He currently works as an independent historic buildings consultant, carrying out research, conservation appraisals and advocacy work, with clients across the NW of England and elsewhere.

He has written many books on the architecture of the region, including The Country Houses of Cheshire; Victorian Manchester and Salford; Religion and Place: Liverpool’s historic places of worship; and Mersey: the river that changed the world.

He serves on the Historic Churches Committee for the Roman Catholic Dioceses of Lancaster, Liverpool, Salford and Shrewsbury, and is a Trustee of the Port Sunlight Village Trust.

Dr. Gethin Owens

Gethin is a Chartered Landscape Architect and Design Director. He has a broad range of experience ranging from public realm design, heritage restoration, education, parks, healthcare and residential projects. He has a PhD from Durham University and has been a member of the Landscape Institute Advisory Council.

Meet the Heritage Team

Paul Harris, Chief Executive

Paul joined Port Sunlight Village Trust in March 2015. He is an experienced leader with a proven track record in developing and implementing strategic plans in the public, private and voluntary sectors. He has previously held senior positions at PSS – Health and Social Care Charity, Ashbury Homes, Hornby Homes and CDS Housing Association. Paul possesses excellent business skills and commercial acumen, and his approach is always people-focused. Paul is a board member of Sovini and a school governor at Church Drive Primary School in Port Sunlight. He lives in Liverpool, has two young children and is a devout Evertonian.

Katherine Lynch, Heritage Manager

Kath has worked for the Trust since 2008. She is responsible for marketing and PR, public programmes, visitor services, building conservation, lifelong learning, resident engagement, fundraising and the historical collection and archive. She previously worked for Tyne & Wear Museums and Archives, the National Maritime Museum Cornwall, and The Tank Museum in Dorset. Her main areas of interest are industrial and military history, communities, and engagement. She is currently Deputy Chair of Wirral Visitor Economy Board. She mentors Congleton Museum and Cheshire Military Museum. Kath lives in Liverpool. She is a big sports fan and enjoys running.

Heather McGrath Alcock, Conservation Adviser

Heather is a heritage professional with over twelve years’ experience in the private, public and charitable sectors of the field. Her academic and professional experience is in heritage planning, raising funds for heritage works and the assessment and conservation of heritage buildings. Heather began her career in heritage planning at the fast-paced New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission before joining Building Conservation Associates, Inc. (BCA), a private heritage consultancy which was also based in New York City. She spent nine years at BCA before moving to London where she served as Historic Buildings Consultant for the Environment Trust for Richmond upon Thames, a building preservation trust working in southwest London. Heather expanded her heritage professional experience in southwest London to include volunteer recruitment and training as well as community engagement.

Tom Hughes, Heritage Officer

Tom joined Port Sunlight Village Trust in November 2016 as our new Heritage Officer. Tom is responsible for looking after our historic collection and archive, social media and digital activity and for creating temporary and permanent exhibitions in the museum and around the village. 

Tom has worked in the museum and heritage sector for nearly 20 years and most recently worked at Norton Priory Museum and Gardens where he was part of the delivery team for a Heritage Lottery Funded capital redevelopment project.