Our History

3rd Viscount Leverhulme

Third Lord LeverhulmePhoto by Colin Bermingham

Philip William Bryce Lever, 3rd Viscount Leverhulme (1915-2000)

Philip William Bryce Lever, the 3rd Viscount Leverhulme, was born in Bebington in 1915. His whole life was spent here on Wirral and was very much dedicated to local people and organisations, to his tenants, and to the County of Cheshire.

Employer & farmer

Living at Thornton Manor for some fifty years, he was a significant local employer, and many Wirral residents enjoyed his hospitality at various events as a result of his association with Clatterbridge Hospital League of Friends, the local Chambers of Commerce, the local Rotary Club and the British Legion, and countless other clubs and societies.

As a young man Philip had begun training as a land agent on the Royal Estate at Sandringham. Interrupted by military service, he returned to Wirral after the war to serve as land agent to his father. One of his particular interests was dairy farming, and over the years he built up a significant pedigree herd on various Estate farms.

Philip was devoted to the Estate and its development, building numerous cottages, and many remember him with affection for his attention and support to his tenants – a tradition carried on today by Leverhulme Estates.

A passion for horses

Philip also developed a national reputation as a racehorse owner and breeder. He served for many years as Senior Steward of the Jockey Club and Chairman of Chester Racecourse. The Philip Leverhulme Equine Hospital at Liverpool University’s Leahurst site near Neston is a testament to his lifetime involvement with horseracing, veterinary studies, and the training of vets.  Built towards the end of his life at a cost of £1.4 million, it is one of the busiest and most respected equine hospitals in the UK, treating over 2,000 horses a year, and was made possible through various bequests including a sizeable donation from his own Charitable Trust.

A commitment to Wirral

Soon after the death of his father Philip was appointed Lord Lieutenant of Cheshire, a post he held for 40 years, and like his father before him he was patron and president of numerous national and local organisations. He was both Pro-Chancellor and Chancellor of Liverpool University for many years, and was appointed a Knight of the Garter in 1988 for his services to the community.

Philip was also responsible for the creation of Lord Leverhulme’s Charitable Trust to support charitable organisations, giving preference to those located in Wirral, Cheshire, Merseyside and Lancashire.  In recent years the Trust has continued to support numerous local organisations.

Philip Lever died in 2000, and as he had no male heirs the Leverhulme title became extinct.  He is survived by three daughters, and the family continues to take a great interest in the running of the Estate to perpetuate the legacy of their forebears.