It would be a hard task, to find a family without a memory of ‘Sunlight Soap’ and, just this week, National Trust of Guernsey has received a donation of six vintage bars of this, the first good, lather-free soap, invented in 1885 by the Lever brothers William and James, in association with Bolton-based chemist William Hough Watson.
Such was the success of Sunlight Soap, that by 1888, production at a small soap works in Warrington had reached 450 tons per week. Thus, Lever Brothers Co., expanded into larger premises, built on marshes at Bromborough Pool, on the Wirral Peninsular, becoming known as Port Sunlight.
By 1900, ‘Lifebuoy’, ‘Lux’ and ‘Vim’ brands had been added, with subsidiaries set up in the United States, Switzerland, Canada, Australia, Germany and elsewhere.
Lever Brothers rode the wave of late-Victorian consumer appetite, to build a vast worldwide industrial empire and, after William Lever’s death in 1925, it merged in 1930 with Dutch margarine company, Margarine Unie, to form Unilever.
Unilever remains a British-Dutch consumer goods company, owning over 400 brands, with a turnover of over 50 billion euros.
All that … from a bar of soap.
Two of the six gifted bars, are already on their way to Australia. If buying for posterity or, a deep whiff of nostalgia, buy soon. Four bars left at £1.25 each.
The National Trust of Guernsey is deeply grateful to the benefactor for taking the time and trouble to remember the shop at 26 Cornet Street, where an original Sunlight Soap box has made part of the shop display for many years.