Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Cockney Sound Map

The geographic definition of a Cockney (London's most beloved and belittled accent) is someone who was born within earshot of the church bells of St. Mary-le-Bow. The church is centrally located in the Cheapside district. The tremendous increase in ambient city noise has shrunk their area quite a bit over the years.
This "sound map" via Wired was compiled by noise consultants 24 Acoustics. 150 years ago the bells could be heard in much of the city (the green areas) including some areas across the river. As noise has increased from traffic, construction, airplanes, air conditioners and other symptoms of urban life, the area where you can hear the bells has shrunk down to the blue section. The shape and reach of these areas is affected by wind direction.

The sound-shed is now so small that there are no longer any maternity wards located within earshot of the bells. That means no more babies are being born as cockneys (unless born at home, or on the way to the hospital). Out of concern for losing cockney culture one area vicar backed a plan to make an MP3 audio file available to would be cockneys. This is available from the Times Atlas of London according to this article, however the link is broken. You can hear them on YouTube.


David Webb. said...

I was born in 1959 in the old part of St Thomas's Lambeth. I've been told that I'm most definitely a Cockney. Having been born within 3 miles of St Mary le Bow, never mind the wind as this map shows the wind coming from the south west. If it had shown coming from the north, north east, east. Well you get my gist.

Bill said...

The whole point about Bow Bells is that in Elizabethan and Jacobean times, the City militia was summoned together in time of crisis to the Leadenhall Market - by ringing the bells of Bow Church. The bell(s) needed to be heard throughout the City. Low tones carry further than high tones. Bow Church had a low tone bell - the great bell at Bow, as described in the nursery rhyme '' orangea and lemons ''. This could obviously be widely heard. The City of Florence, similarly, had a low tone bell, the ' vacca ' ( cow ) to summon the citizens to a ' parlamento ' ( citizens' assembly ). I cconsider myself a Cockney because I was born within the area of the old London County Council at Queen Charlotte's Hospital. W.A.Cassell