“#Penny Lane, street that inspired The Beatles, may be renamed over slavery history”
June 15, 2020 | 4:26pm
Protesters had already vandalized signs for the Liverpool street — changing it to “Racist Lane” — over unproven theories that it was named after 18th-century slave merchant James Penny, Sky News says.
Now local authorities are considering permanently renaming the street which inspired Paul McCartney and John Lennon to write their 1967 hit about their childhoods in the northern English city.
“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 mayor Steve Rotherham told Sky News Monday.
“Something needs to happen and I would say that that sign and that road may well be in danger of being renamed.”
The mayor insisted there was so far “no evidence” confirming the link — suggesting that it actually got its name for a penny toll that people used to have to pay to cross the street.
“Just imagine not having a Penny Lane and the Beatles’ song not being about somewhere,” he said, noting that the song should not be tainted by the potential link as the lyrics are clearly not connected to slavery.
“It’s a lovely song and hopefully we’ll come to an amicable solution on this one.”
Before his death in 1799, Penny had been a notorious slave-ship owner who defended the slave trade to the British Parliament as a prominent opponent of it being abolished. Liverpool was Europe’s most used slave port by 1740 and many of its streets have names linked to slavery, the BBC noted.
Penny Lane is one of those listed as being linked to slavery in a display at the city’s International Slavery Museum — but the museum told the BBC the link is “not conclusive.”
“We are actively carrying out research on this particular question and will re-evaluate our display and change if required,” a spokeswoman said.
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