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Tuesday, 22 February 2011
Martins Bank and its Slave Trade Iconography
Are they just a pair of servants assisting the Merman?
Is he gently patting their curled locks in an affectionate manner?
And they are subtly manacled.
My opinion is that it is about as much as Herbert Rowse the architect could get away with. He was inspired by a visit to America and would have seen American segregation first hand.
Tyson Smith was a classicist, a clever man who understood symbolism. In fact he traded in it. He designed war memorials. His close relative, Edward Carter-Preston, designed the death plaque that was given to relatives of those who perished in the Great War.
‘A cornucopia of spilling gold adorns this building on every side. I am sure it was intended as a reminder that Liverpool was built by slavers’ money and that its bankers grew fat off the whipped backs of Africans when they were bankrolling cargoes of strange fruit bound for the Americas. Whatever you make of it, we need our history preserved and we need this building which is now under threat.’