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Read the Signs

Liverpool street names have become a contentious issue in recent years due to the fact that many commemorate individuals who prospered from the slave trade. We may not wish to honour these people today, but should we forget our history? The 'Read The Signs' booklet takes a closer look at the facts behind the naming of places and streets in Liverpool.

Read The Signs

The aim was to provide factual information about the individuals and families which were involved in both slaving and abolition in Liverpool and how it was they came to have places and streets named after them.

International trade shaped Liverpool for centuries. From this trade the sophisticated system of warehousing developed to store cotton, tobacco and other goods imported from the West Indies, North America and elsewhere, as well as the palatial splendour of the private houses and mansions of the most prominent slaving dynasties.

One important aspect of this trade was the slave trade, and whilst streets were not necessarily named after people directly because they were slavers, the trade did often play a big part in building the fortunes and social status of these people.

An exhibition called 'Read the Signs' was held at St George's Hall in 2008, by the Historic Environment of Liverpool Project who created the leaflet. The booklet was also the subject of lunchtime lectures at BBC Liverpool, where debate about the content of the publication continued. The researcher and writer of the pamphlet, Laurence Westgaph, was honoured with a Black Achievers Award for his work raising the profile of the history of Liverpool.

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