- 16 Jun 20
"The sign and that road may well be in danger of being renamed."
The famous Penny Lane is at risk of being renamed as a result of possible controversial slavery ties to James Penny - a slave merchant who spoke against abolition in Parliament.
The Liverpool road was immortalised in the classic 1967 Beatles song 'Penny Lane', and has drawn crowds of tourists and locals alike ever since.
With Black Lives Matter protests still ongoing around the world, citizens and governments are reexamining historical monuments and their links to racism.
Recently, the statue of slave trader Edward Colston was removed from its plinth by Black Lives Matter protestors in Bristol and dumped in the local river as a symbolic action against racism.
The act has triggered similar protests and calls for the removal of historical monuments and statues celebrating racist or slave traders of the past.
Signs for Penny Lane were then defaced and graffitied last week, with “racist” being sprayed above one prominent sign and “Penny was a slave trader” near another.
Our thoughts on Penny Lane’s history, the research into its name and the need to be responsive to new evidence. pic.twitter.com/PAweUw2vCK
— International Slavery Museum (@SlaveryMuseum) June 12, 2020
Penny Lane is featured in a display of street names linked to slavery at Liverpool’s International Slavery Museum, but the museum admits that the connection between James Penny and The Beatles’ song may be feeble.
“There is some debate about whether Penny Lane was named after James Penny, but the evidence is no conclusive,” the museum said in a tweeted statement.
“We are actively carrying out research on this particular question and will re-evaluate our display on Liverpool street names and change if required.”
If this research concludes Penny Lane does actually have ties to James Penny and slavery, it could lead to a renaming of the road.
“If it is as a direct consequence of that road being called Penny Lane because of James Penny, then that needs to be investigated,” Liverpool’s Metro Mayor, Steve Rotherham, told Sky News.
“Something needs to happen and I would say that sign and that road may well be in danger of being renamed.”