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Thread: Barclay's (Martin's) Bank Doors Linked to Slavery?

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    Re-member Ged's Avatar
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    A bit off topic but as slavery has been mentioned. The sculptures at the entrance to the Martins bank buildings on Water St show a merchant pressing his hands down onto the heads of two African boys. I was led to believe this was to do with slavery. Frank Carlyle in Liverpool unseen gives the opposite account mentioning what they are carrying and says that it signifies that the prosperity of the city and this building in particular being a bank is helping the lesser poorer nations? Anyone got the real take on it?

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    MissInformed
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    i watched a programme a while back (can't for the life of me remember what it was)
    and a Liverpool history expert was showing someone those 'slavery sculpture/carvings' mentioned by ged and the man said they were deffo to do with slavery.

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    Hi Ged and Miss

    As you see, I made us a whole new thread on this topic.

    As described in the the description of Liverpool treasures on the Liverpool Liverpool's World Heritage site, that the ornamentation on the bank building is meant to just "celebrate maritime themes as well as money."

    It would seem that the frieze around the Town Hall is more correctly linked to slavery, for, as stated in the same source:

    John Prestwich, in General View of the Town ... of Liverpool, (c. 1780,) describes the Town Hall:

    "The Exchange is an elegant square edifice built of hewn stone with the front and one side only in view the rest being obscured by the houses which are built close to it ... Between the Capitals runs an Entablature or Fillet on which are placed in base relief the Busts of Blackamoors & Elephants with the Teeth of the Latter, with such like emblematical Figures, representing the African Trade & Commerce."


    Can someone provide a photograph of the bronze doors? Thanks in advance. I worked for a while in the bank when it was Martin's Bank so I am interested for that reason as well.

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    Re-member Ged's Avatar
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    Ref: Slavery links. Someone (I think on a recent Herbert Tyson Smith tour of the city centre) mentioned that a frieze on the South portico of the St. Georges Hall was removed during the restoration and not replaced due to its slavery implications. Does anyone know if this is right? It wasn't by Tyson Smith but just mentioned in passing. We were looking at HTS bronze cenotaph sculptures at the time.

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    PhilipG
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ged View Post
    Ref: Slavery links. Someone (I think on a recent Herbert Tyson Smith tour of the city centre) mentioned that a frieze on the South portico of the St. Georges Hall was removed during the restoration and not replaced due to its slavery implications. Does anyone know if this is right? It wasn't by Tyson Smith but just mentioned in passing. We were looking at HTS bronze cenotaph sculptures at the time.

    That is the reason why it hasn't been replaced, but it was taken down in 1950 because it became unsafe.
    Political Correctness seems to me to be an excuse not to bother going to the expense of putting it back.
    Last edited by PhilipG; 01-03-2007 at 03:00 PM.

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    I couldn't agree more. The thing is, even the slave tour guide wants these things on show as a reminder. It is not healthy to hide such things as unsavoury as they were.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ged View Post
    I couldn't agree more. The thing is, even the slave tour guide wants these things on show as a reminder. It is not healthy to hide such things as unsavoury as they were.
    Perhaps we should lobby the lady councillor who wanted to change the street names to bring better awareness of the city's slavery links. It would seem to be a good reason to restore frieze on the South portico of the St. Georges Hall with appropriate information and news coverage.
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    MissInformed
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    Quote Originally Posted by ChrisGeorge View Post
    Perhaps we should lobby the lady councillor who wanted to change the street names to bring better awareness of the city's slavery links. It would seem to be a good reason to restore frieze on the South portico of the St. Georges Hall with appropriate information and news coverage.
    i couldnt believe she wanted to change Penny Lane!
    from the tourism aspect, it is such a sacred place for many people the world over!

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    MissInformed
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    Quote Originally Posted by MissInformed View Post
    i watched a programme a while back (can't for the life of me remember what it was)
    and a Liverpool history expert was showing someone those 'slavery sculpture/carvings' mentioned by ged and the man said they were deffo to do with slavery.
    just remembered!
    It was the first series of Coast on BBC1.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MissInformed View Post
    i couldnt believe she wanted to change Penny Lane!
    from the tourism aspect, it is such a sacred place for many people the world over!

    I get the impression that it was the sudden realisation that Penny Lane was among the streets whose name had to be changed that broke the back of the proposal. From then on the idea was dead in the water.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MissInformed View Post
    i watched a programme a while back (can't for the life of me remember what it was)
    and a Liverpool history expert was showing someone those 'slavery sculpture/carvings' mentioned by ged and the man said they were deffo to do with slavery.

    just remembered!
    It was the first series of Coast on BBC1.
    Of course, it could be the producers' impression that the sculptures at the entrance to the bank building had to do with slavery, although that might not have been the artist's intention.

    Chris
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    Excuse the ignorance, I missed out on this story of the proposed street name changes. What's the connection between Penny Lane and PC and/or slavery?

    Lots of Liverpool streets were named after those involved in the Africa trade. Has there ever been a move to change these names?

    I recall that the statue at the end of Prince's Avenue was removed because of an ignorant local idea that its subject was one of them- even though he lived far too late to have ever participated in the trade...
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    Quote Originally Posted by knowhowe View Post
    Excuse the ignorance, I missed out on this story of the proposed street name changes. What's the connection between Penny Lane and PC and/or slavery?

    Lots of Liverpool streets were named after those involved in the Africa trade. Has there ever been a move to change these names?

    I recall that the statue at the end of Prince's Avenue was removed because of an ignorant local idea that its subject was one of them- even though he lived far too late to have ever participated in the trade...
    Hi Steve

    Captain James Penny, for whom Penny Lane was named, was a slave trader. The proposal was to rename the streets of Liverpool associated with slavery with names that would recognize Abolitionists instead. As I stated above, I personally think that it was the realization that the name of "Penny Lane" one of the most famous streets in the city had to be changed that killed the proposal. You can read more about it on icLiverpool. Eventually council leader Warren Bradley put an end to the proposal probably realising it would not work in the face of so much opposition to it.

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    All seems stupid to me - why rename streets? Who's is going to appease? Or will it make white do-gooders feel better about themselves and less 'guilty'? I hate all this denial of our past - Liverpool as a major city was built off the slave trade, so short of smashing up every one of our historic buildings we'd be better off just getting on with it.

    Yes the 'slave trade' was bad (just go and see the Maritime Museum's exhibition...), but it formed only a very small part of the world's history of slavery, involving all races both as slaves and traders. It happened, it still happens, and renaming streets isn't going to change that.

    Why rename them after abolitionists? Why do the council feel the need to do this? Do they think it'll make history go away? Of course it won't! Some of these people need to grow some balls and stop faffing about.

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    I agree with all you say there Snappel except that the city was built off the slave trade. This should be firmly put in the Urban Myth section. On the Roger Phillips BBC radio Merseyside phone-in (at the time of the street name change proposal) - a scholar rang in to say he'd had an argument with someone over this very issue and he was told to go and study his facts and history of the city so he did as he believed he was right because of what his elders had told him. Guess what - he was. Before and during the slave trade, Liverppol did more business with Ireland, the Isle of Man and other non slave trade routes than they ever did to do with slavery. This isn't hiding the facts, this is the facts and his sources were the Liverpool records office, William Brown st.
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