I am not from London, but I'm writing a story where the main character is a 14 year old white cockney boy from a deprived area in London. I am trying to decide where he should come from, and while I am aware that places like Clapton, Stepney and Bethnal Green are obvious choices, I heard from somebody that the kids in these places these days are mostly from ethnic minorities, and they're no longer typical places to find cockney teens. Can anyone tell me if this is true
A true Cockney is someone who was born within the sound of Bow bells. in Bow Church..which I think was bombed in the war? or demolished 1947?, but as a would be author you may be better off researching that bit thoroughly as someone is bound to know the correct information.. I would define a cockney kid now days as any one who spoke with a London accent irrespective of race? Unless you are going to make it 50s...60s...70s
Also, my daughter's best friend from Primary school is a true cockney. She was born at home (Wilkes St, E1) whilst Bow bells were chiming. She and her twin are just about to turn 18 (and no, they're not ethnic!). So, given that the Spitalfields area is now so sought after by the middle-classes, and is within the sound of Bow bells, there are many more "Cockneys" but not quite as in the original meaning of the term.
St Mary le Bow on Cheapside was bombed in 1941 and mostly destroyed - it was rebuilt in the 1960s by Laurence King, but at least one of the pre-war bells is still in use. I used to work just round the corner and often went to the lectures and music evenings there. I even have the "History of St. Mary Le Bow" book somewhere if anyone's interested.
And The Place Below veggie cafe in the [Norman] crypt is fab !
The "inner east end" has been home to "ethnic minorities" for quite some time now!
My first introduction to lovable cockernee sterotypes was Wolf Mankowitz's "A Kid for Two Farthings" - and I can just remember the last vestiges of Jewish Aldgate Whitechapel (now Banglatown) in the early 70s.
My jewish grandparents lived in Whitechapel until they died in the late 1980s and there were still some vestiges of the jewish community then. My mum came to visit me when I lived in Mile End a few years ago and took me around Whitechapel as she remembered it when she was a child and it was fascinating because it was so different as to how I remembered it when we went to visit my grandparents in the 1980s. Prior to it being a jewish area I believe it was Huguenot...
The true old Eastend was quite tiny. Eastenders mythical Walford is definitely not close enough to the city to count as true old Eastend. Isn't the word 'cockney' a bit outdated now? I've been in London for 17 years, living in Hackney, Mile end and Southwark and I've never heard anyone describe themselves or anyone else as cockney, except some purley kings and queens on an exhibition stall about cockneys.
For your novel I'd suggest you walk around the old Eastend and out towards Mileend and Bethnal green. The areas around Victoria Park might be good for a setting. There are some interesting old estates at the north end of Brick Lane that are very mixed culturally. You've got some other possibly useful locations around these parts such as Columbia Rd flower market, Hackney City Farm, strip clubs, the pretentiously fashionable Hoxton/Shorditch, Spitalfields Market (and farm. I like farms.), Jack the Ripper (well, his turf), Brick lane Market for stolen bikes (I didn't buy one) and canals. I'll stop.