Derek Taylor
Derek Taylor

The road to immortality

Sheffield Town Hall (Wikipedia)
Sheffield Town Hall (Wikipedia)

The Sheffield Council has decided not to change the street names which commemorate historical figures who were involved in slavery in years gone by. There have been some changes elsewhere, however, and it seems logical that they be replaced by the names of those Jews who had played a major part in supporting British rulers. and their fellow citizens, to the benefit of the country in the past.

We should therefore have De Medina Street to remember Sir Solomon de Medina who helped win the War of the Spanish Succession and Suasso Avenue for Francisco Lopez Suasso, who financed William III when he invaded England in 1688. Lopez Crescent would be appropriate for the Jewish Banker, Menassah Lopez, who held up the pound during the invasion by the Old Pretender in 1715 and Gideon Road for Samson Gideon who did the same when Bonnie Prince Charlie invaded in 1745.

Rothschild Place would recognise the support the family gave the government, raising money to fight the Napoleonic Wars and for finding the money for Disraeli to buy the Suez Canal.

Admirable as was the abolition of slavery by William Wilberforce, the slave owners still had to be compensated and the Rothschilds raised the money for that as well. It cost more than anything before the recent financial crisis.

There is a strong case for Vane Village to remember Sir John Robert Vane, who won the Nobel prize for medicine in 1982 for, as you know, introducing angiotensin-converting-enzyme inhibitors which have helped people all over the world to reduce their blood pressure and avoid strokes.

We can also make a case for Herbert Brown Drive to mark the contribution to the development of pesticides for which Professor Brown gained the Nobel prize for chemistry in 1979.

There are Wolfson Colleges in Oxford and Cambridge but a Wolfson Close in the West End of London would be a fitting memorial to Sir Isaac whose charitable work was vast.

Goodman Terrace would also be a proper recognition of Lord Arnold Goodman’s bill to provide methods of transportation for the disabled. Over three million people have benefited over the years.

In the City of London we obviously need Ricardo Buildings to recognise the important contribution that David Ricardo made to economics in the 18th century and as Christmas is a favourite festival, we need Tuck Cuttings to recall that it was the Tuck family who invented cheap Christmas cards, jigsaw puzzles and Valentine cards from their small shop in Whitechapel when the cost of postage was even less than emails.

Menuhin Lane would be a lasting memorial to Sir Yehudi Menuhim, the great violinist. We also need Silverman Cul de sac to remind us that it was Sydney Silverman MP whose private members bill led to its eventual abolition in 1967.

Well, that’s enough to be going on with, but as Shakespeare said “the evil that men do lives after them, The good is oft interred with their bones.”  But then there are Shakespeare Roads in Mill Hill, Brixton, Lambeth, Bedford, Herne Hill, Gillingham and Eastleigh, to name just a few. We’ve got some way to go.

About the Author
Derek is an author & former editor of the Jewish Year Book
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