All the people that come and go

Penny Lane

Did you know that the street named in the famous Beatles song, Penny Lane, was named after one James Penny? Did you know that James Penny, who died in 1799, was active in the slave trade until the American War of Independence and later took up the trade again when the war ended?  Furthermore, Penny spoke in defence of the slave trade to Parliament in 1788; he argued that abolition of the trade would destroy the economy of Liverpool;

“it would not only greatly affect the commercial interest, but also the landed property of the County of Lancaster and more particularly, the Town of Liverpool; whose fall, in that case, would be as rapid as its rise has been astonishing.”

Thankfully Penny was proved wrong, Liverpool survives still. A policy of changing the name of Liverpool streets associated with the slave trade deliberately excluded Penny Lane from the process. Like Penny, the city knows where its bread is buttered.

One Response to “All the people that come and go”

  1. la pergrina Says:

    I think this is a case of the original meaning behind something being replaced by something else. If someone showed you a swastika, you would link it with Hitler and genocide instead of with some eastern religion or good luck. While reading about James Penny I could hear The Beatles singing Penny Lane in my head. As you point out Paul McCartney’s song has replaced James Penny as the meaning of the sign for me and many other people. James Penny is on his way to being totally forgot, as he should be.

    And, as you also wrote, Liverpool knows which side its bread is buttered on.

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