Iconic Penny Lane could be renamed due to potential slavery connection

News 16/06/2020

Liverpool is currently looking at the history of Penny Lane to determine if the street was named after a notorious slave trader.

In the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement, statues and other objects that commemorate the lives of those who perpetuated slavery and institutional racism have been defaced and vandalised, leading the city to consider renaming the street.

Memorialised in a Beatles song of the same name, several street signs marking Penny Lane were defaced recently, with the word 'Penny' crossed out and 'Racist' written above it. Some people believed the street was named after James Penny, an 18th century slave trader. Some netizens claimed that it was actually named after a toll bridge that used to stand there and it costed a penny to cross the bridge.

"If it is as a direct consequence of that road being called Penny Lane because of James Penny, then that needs to be investigated," Steve Rotherham, Liverpool metro mayor said on Sky News (via NME). "Something needs to happen, and I would say that sign and that road may well be in danger of being renamed."

However, the origins of the street's name has yet to be confirmed. International Slavery Museum's spokesperson claimed that there is no conclusive evidence as to whether it was named after the slave trader.

"It's for other people to decide whether they think it's appropriate that road sign is taken down, if indeed there is any link to either slavery or other incidences," Rotherham noted. "I'm not pretending, or I wouldn't presume to tell people in communities in the Liverpool city region what they should be thinking. It needs to be investigated and then, if it's found as a direct link, then action can be taken."