How The Cockney museum started

Hidden in the attic of the aptly named Dickens Inn, in dusty, coffin like, wooden boxes were the original 1860’s priceless collection of Victorian Pearly Suits. Numerous media appeals had finally led The Pearly King of Peckham to the priceless collection he had been in search of since the early 1970’s. Yet his tireless battle to keep them in the UK, where they belong had only just begun!

The Cockney Museum’s name was first thought of by Adam Joseph, an Evening Standard journalist, Adam was also a Cockney historian who gave many talks on the history of the costermongers’ and Pearly Kings and Queens. An East End boy from a Jewish family, he too had devoted half his life searching for the lost Cockney Crown Jewels – the original 1860’s Pearly suits.

Adam considered the Costermongers’ and the Pearly Kings and Queens as the true living bearers of social London.

They were the foundation and symbol of hope for the majority of the capital’s poor population, yesteryear and very much underpin the community today, providing resources, monetary support for the poor and needy, crowd pullers at cultural celebrations and their charity support phenomenal.

In the early 70’s after intensive research, Adam found the lost Cockney Crown Jewels; hidden away in attics and garden sheds and he paid several Pearly Kings and Queens’s descendants’ and from his own pocket to purchase them. He had built a formidable collection of other Cockney artefacts and proudly exhibited them; wishing keeping the social history of London alive, one of his exhibitions was in Selfridges and he lectured all over the Country.

Astonishingly, a small group of Pearlys’ disapproved of Adam holding the Crown Jewels, so ironic when the priceless antiques told the story of old London and his exhibitions attracted tourists all over the World. And Adam, the greatest historian of Cockney history, due to the animosity from the minority group became very ill and chose to sell the Crown Jewels to a charity for the sake of his health.

During Adam’s expeditions, he met George Major, the longest reigning Pearly King, who was so flattered by the man’s devotion to Costermongers, and Pearly Kings’ and Queens’ history, that George regularly supported Adam at his talks and they became close friends.

Learning that Adam had been forced to sell the precious Crown jewels, and wishing to know that they were in the right hands, with people who would use them for the good of London, keeping the true cockney traditions alive, they needed to be re-found. The original wearers of the suits were the originators of charitable giving, raising millions for their people; there was no NHS service in the tough Victorian era, it wasn’t just cheap food they supplied to the poor sick and needy.

Adam opened his heart up to George, he explained the extent of the animosity he had experienced with the minority Pearly group and the trouble which George would face; he also supplied George with the charities details to whom he had been forced to sell the priceless jewels to.

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