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The Former Laundry at Thornton Manor

A Grade II Listed Building in Clatterbridge, Wirral

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Latitude: 53.3282 / 53°19'41"N

Longitude: -3.0515 / 3°3'5"W

OS Eastings: 330068

OS Northings: 381770

OS Grid: SJ300817

Mapcode National: GBR 7Y4Y.5N

Mapcode Global: WH87L.3L6W

Entry Name: The Former Laundry at Thornton Manor

Listing Date: 15 January 2009

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1393095

English Heritage Legacy ID: 505100

Location: Wirral, CH63

County: Wirral

Electoral Ward/Division: Clatterbridge

Traditional County: Cheshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Merseyside

Church of England Parish: Thornton Hough All Saints

Church of England Diocese: Chester

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Listing Text

1755/0/10048 MANOR ROAD
15-JAN-09 Thornton Hough
The former laundry at Thornton Manor

Former laundry to Thornton Manor, 1902, red sandstone, pitched stone slate roof laid in diminishing courses with terracotta ridge copings, 1 1/2 storeys.

EXTERIOR: 3-bay front elevation faces rear of main house and service yard. Off-centre doorway with shallow Tudor arched head, chamfered reveals, heavy timber panelled door with strap hinges, carved hoodmould above. 2 sets of paired stone mullion windows to left bay with continuous hoodmould above, short buttress to far left. 3-light mullion window to ground floor of right bay with hoodmould, large dormer window above containing 3-light mullion window, carved square relief to gable apex displays date '1902' and initials 'WHL'. Leaded glazing and carved surrounds to all windows. N & S gable ends with raised gables and sandstone copings. Large ridge stack to left of centre. Similarly styled windows to sides and rear. Small later stone lean-to attached to rear left (NE corner) of building. Interior not inspected.

HISTORY: William Hesketh Lever was born in 1851 in Bolton, Lancashire. After training in his father's grocery business from the age of 16 he was made a junior partner in 1872, and a year later he expanded the business to a second premises in Wigan. From these twin bases Lever further expanded the company's activities into manufacturing soap, first at Warrington and eventually at Port Sunlight. By this time the company had become 'Lever Brothers', established with his brother James (although William was always the lead partner). The company went on to possess factories and mills around the world including the Congo, as Lever expanded the business into the production and processing of raw materials, and eventually diversified into other areas. Lever Brothers became one of the largest multinational companies in the world during the late C19/early C20, and is still in operation today as Unilever.

William Lever was a Liberal MP, social reformer, and a pioneer of good worker-employee relations. He introduced the 8 hour working day, and provided a pay policy greater than any other company in the country. In 1905 he also provided pensions for his staff (3 years before they were introduced by the government in 1908). Lever Brothers was also one of the first companies to employ a full-time safety inspector and company doctor, and to provide respirators and a rota system for workers working in dusty conditions. Decades before it became a legal requirement Lever Brothers had introduced alarms and sprinklers in all their departments and had their own voluntary ambulance and fire brigade. The staff were also taken on day and weekend trips in Britain and in Europe.

William Lever built Port Sunlight model village for his workers, which included a planned landscape of houses with gardens, allotments, large open spaces and parks (ten years before Ebenezer Howard's plans for a Garden City), shops, a hospital, school, post office, sports facilities, church, dining halls, a public house, the Lady Lever art gallery, and a library. The children of Port Sunlight and Lever's junior staff were required to attend school and devote time to education (paid for by Lever Brothers) including languages, science, engineering, accountancy, maths and English literature, even though by law school was only compulsory up to the age of 10.

Lever was created a Baronet in 1911. In 1917 he was made a Lord and took the title of Lord Lever of Bolton-le-Moors. Finally in 1922 he was created Viscount Leverhulme (adding the surname of his wife Elizabeth Hulme who had died in 1913). He died at The Hill (his London home) on the 7th May 1925 shortly after returning from a world tour and inspection of his business interests.

Thornton Manor is believed to have been constructed in the c.1840s/50s, but was not lived in until 1863 when it was bought by the Forwood family. William Lever rented it in 1888 when it was still a relatively modest Victorian villa, as it was located close to his business at Port Sunlight. He bought the manor in 1891 and immediately started expanding and remodelling it as his largest and main residence (works that went on for the next 25 years). Thornton Manor formed an important part of the business of Lever Brothers as well as a family home, as Lever often worked at the house, held meetings there, and entertained staff at dinners, parties, and garden parties/fairs. Thornton Manor was officially given over to his son in 1919, although it remained as Lever's principal residence until his death.
The former laundry was built in 1902 and is believed to have been used as the laundry for the main house. It is now used for storage.

REASONS FOR DESIGNATION: The former laundry at Thornton Manor is designated at grade II for the following principal reasons:

* It is a key component of Viscount Leverhulme's extensive late C19/early C20 country estate of Thornton Manor, which retains its main house, stable and garage court, associated lodge and cottages, and gardens
* Its design is above the purely functional especially for a building intended for such a utilitarian purpose, and maintains stylistic continuity with the main house and its stable and garage court
* The exterior is well preserved and finely detailed with stone mullion windows, leaded glazing, and carved window and door surrounds
* It has a strong visual, stylistic and functional relationship with the main house and its attached stable and garage court, and additional group value with other listed buildings on the estate

This text is from the original listing, and may not necessarily reflect the current setting of the building.

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