Crazy Cockney Ragamuffin Rules

Byron George
5 min readApr 16, 2021

Where I was born wasn’t quite within the sound of Bow Bells, what used to be the requirement to be called a Cockney. The old rule being that to be considered a Cockney you had to be born within earshot of the church bells at St. Mary le Bow in the area of Cheapside in London. Like many others, after the war, their returning parents were housed on new estates just across the London border into Essex County.

Barking and Dagenham had accommodated many of those new families of the Baby Boomer years. The Becontree Housing Estate in Dagenham was in the Guinness Book of Records back then for being the largest public housing conurbation outside of the old Soviet Union. The estate was built to accommodate the new industries springing up along the reclaimed land that ran on the old marshy areas next to the River Thames estuary that ran out to the sea, primarily the huge Ford plant.

I was born in Barking of Cockney parents, so I claim to be one also because of my heritage, and anyhow we were only about 2 miles across the East London boundary into Essex. We could hear all manner of bells, along with the ship’s foghorns on the Thames in the days when industry used that river, who knew if they were from the Church or elsewhere. Nowadays the London boundary and postcode has joined the urban sprawl and moved out to Romford.

Growing up in that area then were good times, we were all from poor working-class stock and most of my pal's fathers had returned from WW2 with various health issues. It seemed that almost all of them had been hospitalised with Duodenal Ulcers at some stage, a condition associated with stress. I reckon that if I had been exposed to what they had I would have suffered also. You don’t seem to hear of people with those ailments these days. They would probably be given good counselling for PTSD today for fear of being sued! Most of those old soldiers have died and you just had to get on with it in their day. Rightly so, the west has become more enlightened these days and governments made accountable for those they send into conflict.

Part of the rules for those of us growing up in the area was learning the art of speaking Cockney. For those readers on here from outside the UK who are not aware of the Cockney slang and its history, I’ll give a short history and a few examples.

The rhyming slang itself was invented in the 1800’s it is said mostly so that the police wouldn’t understand what the locals spoke because the old East Enders…

Byron George

Positive & sensual author; loves diversity, travel, other cultures, pan, poly whatever! LGBTQ+ Positive, Growin’ old disgracefully.