British port of Liverpool confronts its evil past

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Beatles lovers who seek out Penny Lane imagine it as that magical place "in my ears and in my eyes, there beneath the blue suburban skies." But it has a sinister undertone that still reverberates.

The street in Liverpool, hometown of the Fab Four, is named after James Penny, a slave trader and investor in 11 voyages that took 500 to 600 captives at a time to the New World.

Penny was among the many who enriched themselves and their city on human trafficking until the slave trade was abolished 200 years ago. Their ships carried millions of human beings from west Africa to the plantations of the Americas in a triangular trade that also brought profitable cargoes of sugar, tobacco and rum to England.

Liverpool’s rise, says local historian Ray Costello, is summed up in the carving on a bank facade: two black children supporting Liverpool as Neptune.

"What it really means is that this bank was founded on the slave trade," Costello said.

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