Penny Lane, the Liverpool street that The Beatles turned into a household name, may be being renamed due to the possibility that it was named after 18th century slave trader James Penny. NME reports that Steve Rotherham, Liverpool’s Metro Mayor, told Sky News on Monday (6/15) that "if it is as a direct consequence of that road being called Penny Lane because of James Penny, then that needs to be investigated." "Something needs to happen and I would say that sign and that road may well be in danger of being renamed," he added.
Rotherham also says that "there is no evidence" that the street was in fact named after James Penny, and that he "[doesn't] believe" that it is. He said he had "done a bit of reading on this" and said it may be associated with a toll that was once paid in pennies to cross the road. "It needs to be investigated and then, if it’s found as a direct link then action can be taken," he added.
The BBC pointed out that street signs on Penny Lane were recently spray-painted over and graffitied with the word "racist." A spokeswoman for Liverpool's International Slavery Museum also told the BBC that "more research is needed" to clarify the name's origin.
Clark Gilmour, resident artist at Liverpool's Cavern Club and Beatles tribute musician, posted a gallery of photos of the recently graffitied Penny Lane street signs:
Stay tuned for more possible updates to this story.