A historic Liverpool street is the first in the city to have a plaque installed which explains its links with slavery.
The brand new addition, close to the World Museum on William Brown Street, will be unveiled on Tuesday 5 April, with the bronze plaque explaining the history behind the street name and its origins with the slave trade.
It is the first of around ten streets which will become home to an ‘Eric Scott Lynch Slavery Histories’ plaque – named in honour of the activist and historian who passed away last year.
Eric spent his life drawing attention to Liverpool’s links with slavery and through his family, he played a key role in identifying which areas of the city were directly linked with the slave economy and the growth of the city. These include streets named after slavers or places connected with the trade, as well as those located in areas that frequently feature in current walking tours of the city. The addition of the accurate historical reference would add to the heritage experience of visitors as they explore our streets.
A list of streets was originally submitted by Laurence Westgaph – historian and founder of Liverpool Black History Research Group. Some of the streets under consideration include Falkner Street, Bold Street, Parr Street and Colquitt Street.
The locations will be announced in the coming months once the complex process of identifying suitable areas, then obtaining permissions – and in some cases seeking planning approval – is completed. It is hoped they will all be in situ in the next two years.
The partners involved in the project are Liverpool City Council, National Museums Liverpool, the family of Eric Lynch, Liverpool Black History Research Group and Kuumba Imani Millennium Centre.
The unveiling comes ahead of the unique Liverpool Against Racism series of events which take place from 24-30 April. A music day and conference will be just some of the highlights of the city-wide statement of solidarity against racism and hate. For more information head to the official website
Liverpool City Council passed a motion in January 2020 to commit to the placing of plaques and other interpretation to improve our understanding of the city’s heritage and its links to slavery.
Mayor of Liverpool, Joanne Anderson said, “This is a milestone moment for Liverpool in its reconciliation with its past.
“As a city we pledged to be open and transparent about this city’s role in the transatlantic slave trade, and the plaques are an important step forward. This understanding of our past is key, and only when we fully acknowledge and accept it, can we move forward.
“The unveiling takes place in the same month as Liverpool Against Racism – a powerful and unique event which will shine a spotlight on the racism and discrimination endemic in today’s society.
“I am proud to have two high-profile activities take place within the space of a month which address our past, but also look ahead to the future and spotlight progressive, impactful anti-racist practices.
“I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all those involved in making these plaques a reality and their commitment to telling the truth about Liverpool’s history.”
Andrew Lynch, Eric Lynch’s son, said, “These plaques stand testament to the educational work that my father Eric Scott Lynch carried out. Over many years, he strove to give the people of Liverpool a deeper understanding of the central role the city played in shaping the modern world.
“The enormous wealth generated by slavery and imperial interests built the city into a major trade hub and financed many of the industries that were to become the cornerstone of the industrial revolution. This reminds us that Liverpool is truly a world city, with the labour of Africans and people of African descent being a key part of our story.”
Michelle Charters, Chair of the Slavery Streets Panel and CEO of Kuumba Imani Millennium Centre said, “It has truly been an honour to get to the point of the first of many ‘Eric Scott Lynch Slavery Heritage’ street plaques, especially when Eric had conducted hundreds of Slavery History Trail tours over the decades. This will leave a legacy in his name to his tireless work he did in uncovering the facts and educating many individuals and organisations of the true involvement as a city, in the transatlantic slave trade and its impact on the growth of Liverpool from the 1800s.
“It was especially moving that unfortunately, Eric did not get the chance to see this first plaque, but we as a panel, are happy to collaborate and conduct the work on his behalf, working closely with his son Andrew. I thank the Lynch family for their collaboration and sharing of their father’s memories and knowledge.”
Janet Dugdale, Executive Director of Museums & Participation, said, “At National Museums Liverpool we are honoured to be a partner in this significant project and a member of the advisory panel. Over time the plaques and linked website will enable people to contextualise transatlantic slavery within Liverpool’s built environment.
“While our International Slavery Museum has been a leading voice for telling stories of the transatlantic slave trade, we are also committed to embedding an understanding of the legacies of transatlantic slavery across all of our venues by being open and transparent about the histories behind our collections.”
Image: © Pete Carr