Liverpool's Penny Lane Might Be Facing a Name Change - Rolling Stone
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Liverpool’s Penny Lane — of Beatles Fame — Might Be Facing a Name Change

Signs were vandalized recently due to the belief that the street was named after a slave trader

An original Penny Lane street sign, protected by perspex, is pictured on Penny Lane in Liverpool, north west England on June 12, 2020, after a wall and street signs were defaced with graffiti. - Road signs and a wall on Penny Lane, made famous by the The Beatles song of the same name, were defaced following speculation that the road had been named after the slave trader James Penny. Britain has seen days of protests sparked by the death in police custody of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, in the United States. (Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP) (Photo by OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images)

Was Penny Lane named after a notorious slave trader? The history of a Beatles landmark explained.

Oli Scarff/AFP/Getty Images

UPDATE (6/19): The International Slavery Museum has deduced that Penny Lane’s name is not connected to the slave trade.

Liverpool’s Penny Lane — of Beatles fame — might be renamed, according to Steve Rotheram, Liverpool’s Metro Mayor.

Last week, four road signs bearing the name were spray-painted over, according to NME, the word “racist” painted over one sign. Apparently, the signs were painted because some believe the lane was named after slave trader James Penny. According to the BBC, Liverpool’s Penny transported slaves in the late 1700s.

“If it is as a direct consequence of that road being called Penny Lane because of James Penny, then that needs to be investigated,” Rotheram told Sky News Monday. “Something needs to happen and I would say that sign and that road may well be in danger of being renamed.”

Still, evidence seems thin that this is indeed the case. Liverpool’s International Slavery Museum said that it wasn’t sure that the street was named for Penny and tour guide Jackie Spencer told the BBC: “We’ve researched it, and it has nothing to do with slavery. James Penny was a slave trader, but he had nothing to do with the Penny Lane area.”

Rotheram aims to do research into the origins of the name and plans to take action if a link is found. “It needs to be investigated and then, if it’s found as a direct link, then action can be taken,” he said.

The dustup over Penny Lane follows a worldwide call to remove monuments that celebrate racist figures in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd. Late last week, Taylor Swift publicly called for such landmarks to be eradicated in Tennessee.


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