English protesters have vandalised Liverpool’s famous Penny Lane over fears it was named after a slave trader.
Protesters blacked out the word “Penny” with spray paint on numerous street signs, last Thursday night.
However, the vandalism on the iconic street has been slammed as “pure ignorance” by historical experts.
It comes as monuments to slavers have been pulled down all over the country in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement.
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City tour guide Jackie Spencer, who runs Blue Badge Tour Guides, said she was “absolutely livid”.
“It’s pure ignorance,” she said.
“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.”
The city’s International Slavery Museum said it was not certain whether the street, which was immortalised in a song by The Beatles in 1967, was named after the 18th Century slave merchant.
A spokeswoman said “more research is needed” to clarify the name’s origin.
“If you want something removed, there’s ways and means,” he said.
“Defacing Penny Lane signs isn’t going to change a lot. It’s the wrong way to go about things.”
Several of the road’s signs already had a large amount of graffiti on them, much of it Beatles-related, with one even bearing the signature of Sir Paul McCartney.
Liverpool city’s mayor, Joe Anderson, said he was “frustrated” by the “defacement of our street signs”.
“(It) does nothing to further advance the argument and the debate around Black Lives Matter here in Liverpool,” he said.
“It isn’t just about the artefacts and street names, it’s also about how we change the fundamental things that are causing disadvantage and inequality within our city.”
Liverpool was Europe’s most used slave port by 1740 and many of its streets have names linked to slavery.
Liverpool merchant James Penny captained 11 voyages carrying slaves and had his own shipping company, James Penny & Co.
He was one of several Liverpool traders who spoke in favour of slavery at a parliamentary inquiry into the slave trade set up in 1788.
When Penny returned to Liverpool, the city’s corporation, which was dominated by those with slaving interests, presented him with a silver-plated table centrepiece in gratitude