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Pearly kings join Cockney festival to save East End way of life

PUBLISHED: 07:00 14 July 2013 | UPDATED: 10:09 15 July 2013

Brief moment when East End Pearly kings and queens took part in 2012 Olympics opening ceremony

Brief moment when East End Pearly kings and queens took part in 2012 Olympics opening ceremony

Archant

The long-awaited Cockney Heritage Festival is finally getting off the ground when it is launched with a bit of a knees-up in London’s East End on Thursday.

Pearly kings and queens are having a chinwag with the Cockney Heritage Trust and Tower Hamlets Council about plans for 50 events to be staged in the East End.

Details are being revealed at a launch party at Tower Hamlets Archive Library in Bancroft Road, off the Mile End Road, on Thursday evening.

It follows disappointment at not being able to give the 80,000 audience at last summer’s Olympics opening ceremony a big East End Cockney knees-up.

Tower Hamlets Pearly Queen Lorraine Wells wanted to do the ‘Lambeth Walk’ round the stadium.

But the estimated billion TV viewers around the world only caught a five-second glimpse of the 40 Pearlies taking part.

Tower Hamlets Pearly Queen Lorraine Wells wanted to do the ‘Lambeth Walk’ round the stadium.

But the estimated billion TV viewers around the world only caught a five-second glimpse of the 40 Pearlies taking part.

Tower Hamlets council jumped on the Pearly bandwagon while the spotlight was on London to start a campaign to protect Cockney Rhyming Slang, with a press conference for the world’s media at Bethnal Green’s Carpenters Arms rub-a-dub during the summer Games down the frog’n’toad at Stratford.

Mile End’s own Pearly King John Scott, who has 20,000 pearl buttons on his whistle-and-flute (suit), told one reporter: “The Cockneys should have been more prominent—but it wasn’t our show.”

The Pearly kings and queens trace their origins back to the street market costermongers of the 1860s sewing pearl buttons on their suits to raise money for the poor of Victorian London.


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