“They had a serious work ethic,” he said. Barking and Dagenham lost 48,500 council units to the sell-off, while in Basildon, home ownership shot up from 53% in 1981 to 71% in 1996. old as owd and th-fronting (a feature now widespread in England, was found throughout Essex in the 1950s Survey of English Dialect) in Essex and yod-coalescence in Kent. u/PROBABLY_POOPING_RN. , Older rural dialects were once mainly confined to Kent and the north and the east of Essex, which showed a few early features of, as well as some features distinct from, the modern Estuary dialect that has since spread through the region. Over time, the names of its lead characters, Sharon and Tracey, came to represent sexually promiscuous and somewhat dim women from the south of the county. While we'll all know Brummie or Scouse, telling the difference between certain areas can be tricky. 6. South Woodham was not built under the watchful eye of an autonomous development company and funded by the state, as Basildon had been. The label actually refers to the low… “There wasn’t that thing of Essex girls, yet,” Steadman told me on the phone recently. The piece was accompanied by an illustration of a small-foreheaded bloke in an expensive yet ill-fitting suit, drinking a can of lager in front of his shiny new motor and an ex-council house (presumably acquired thanks to Thatcher’s right-to-buy reforms), resplendent with satellite dish to pick up Rupert Murdoch’s new Sky television service, which was launched in the UK in 1989. Every time one of the men brought a new wife home, she would perish of “Essex ague”, a localised strain of malaria. Thousands of kilometres from Essex, the border guard had not only heard of this county in south-east England, but even knew what it had come to signify: a land of crass consumerism, populated by perma-tanned chancers and loose women with more front than Clacton-on-Sea. Norman Tebbit was born into a working-class family just over the border from Essex in Ponders End, Enfield. CHLOE Sims showed off her incredible Essex mansion after her secret two-year relationship with Pete Wicks was revealed. If you can visualise the map of Great Britain as a wild-haired angry monster shouting at Ireland, then Essex rests above its rectum, the Thames Estuary. The rise of Francois is testament to the ultimate success of “Essex man” as a template for the barbaric, tell-it-like-it-is tone of the rightwing press – and, increasingly, the hard-man posturing of today’s insurgent reactionaries. 1 in 4 people prefer the Irish accent above all other In 1980, when the new Conservative government gave council tenants the right to buy their homes, the policy was launched with a photo opportunity in the kitchen of a terraced house at 39 Amersham Road in Harold Hill, the large estate in Romford built in the 50s by London county council, which had been sold to its council tenants, the Patterson family, for just over £8,000. Mark Francois addressing the Bruges Group in London in April. Essex people were damned if they did and damned if they didn’t. The persistent rhetorical power of this invented Essex – as a land of a million Marks Francois, ready to die for No Deal – requires that we continue to overlook the reality of the actual place. One of the key architects of Thatcher’s revolution was an Essex boy, or near enough. “There is still a conversation, even today, black folk in London saying to me, seriously: ‘What are you doing in Essex?’” says Southend-based artist Elsa James, whose work addresses stereotypes of people of African-Caribbean heritage and those of Essex women. The Essex shore is home to more than 40 islands – although no one can quite agree on exactly how many – with grimly exotic names such as Lower Horse, Cindery and Foulness. “Essex has suffered so much; the new towns, the vast growth and overspill of London, the lancing through of motorways,” wrote the naturalist and author, JA Baker. (He was lovingly described as “every bit an Essex man” by Quentin Letts in the Daily Mail in 2009.) If the foundations for the modern idea of Essex were laid during Thatcher’s first term, it was the deregulation of the City of London in 1986, during her second term, that turbocharged its development. “I said: ‘Yes, he’s Essex man!’” recalled Heffer, “and Frank said: ‘It’s brilliant! The Essex accent is regarded as a milder form of the London accent, but this part of the country has also developed its own set of interesting words and phrases that people elsewhere in the country might not understand. Essex has since become a place simultaneously embraced as home to the real, authentic England and scorned as the crudest, stupidest symbol of Englishness. “They tell me he is one of Her Majesty’s ministers.” This aspirational trajectory became Tebbit’s brand: he even called his memoirs Upwardly Mobile. The boundary between Estuary English and Cockney is far from clearcut. Which would probably sound quite Australian. “But I’m sure you are not like that.”. Phonetician John C. Wells proposed a definition of Estuary English as "Standard English spoken with the accent of the southeast of England". , Note that some other authors use the name Popular London to refer to Cockney itself. As east London became increasingly overcrowded, the Cockney’s stamping ground moved eastwards, over the river Lea and into the open plains of Essex. The Essex accent is revealed to be the worst in Britain as women admit to swooning over a soft Irish twang. The town centre was dominated by the Asda, which was built to resemble a gigantic village barn, with an old Essex-style clock tower. As the century progressed, however, parts of Essex came to represent the dismantling of this dream, as Thatcherism, the UK arm of the global new right movement that believed in lower taxes and lower public spending alongside deregulation and privatisation, became indelibly linked to the county. As London’s financial industry expanded eastwards to include the derelict docklands where the parents of the new residents of Essex had once worked, the legend of the barrow-boy done good in the City started to grow. Pitched against such evidence, the myth of Essex as the great Thatcherite success story says more about the will of the Conservative commentariat than anything else. Essex is depicted as wholly white and extremely Tory, but the reality is obviously more complex than the myth. No one seemed any richer, just further apart. In 1998, an 18-year-old student from Harlow called Tracy made the front pages after she was ridiculed by a Cambridge don at her interview for a place at Trinity College. The play’s most enduring creation was Beverly, a monstrous, power-dressing proponent of bettering oneself through consumer choice. ), For many who had moved there, this new Essex was a welcome jolt of modernity, delivering them from often squalid conditions that still characterised much of postwar London. After the second world war, Clement Attlee’s Labour government proposed the creation of a number of new towns, mainly built in the countryside around London, to answer Britain’s housing shortage. "They're not confident to say they're from Essex, or they feel their accent or what they wear is the subject of ridicule," she said. “I believe we may well produce a new type of citizen,” Lewis Silkin, Labour’s minister for new towns, told the House of Commons in May 1948. Most people who talk properly from Essex you can't guess where they're from at all, just 'the south'. The phrase, Heffer said, was a deliberate echo of “Neanderthal man” – implying that Essex man was the missing link between the lumpen proles of the new town estates and the bright new citizens emerging under the stewardship of Margaret Thatcher’s party. What it means in Essex: To go to a salon and purchase a brown liquid, mousse, or cream for application to your skin, usually with a designated tanning mitten. “Heard a chap on the radio this morning talking with a Cockney accent,” the old Etonian Tory PM Harold Macmillan said after hearing Tebbit’s voice for the first time. In typical tabloid fashion, alongside all the stories poking fun at Essex types, there came the occasional story that relied on the opposite premise: that people from Essex were good-hearted strivers cruelly judged by the old establishment elites. “He is unencumbered by any ‘may the best man win’ philosophy,” Heffer wrote. “The life I’d come from was so different to that,” said Steadman.  Many of the first English books to be published were by Kentish writers, and this helped spread Kent dialectal words (e.g. Mr Essex: TOWIE star Mark Wright (Picture: Getty) A controversial new poll is set to be the talk of Essex after naming the county’s accent as the least attractive in the English language. It was set in Romford, an old market-turned-commuter town that was subsumed by London’s boundary changes in 1965, but which many still regard as “culturally Essex”. Funding was provided to improve living conditions and quality of life. Some are not much more than a lump of hardy grass protruding from a river; others, such as Canvey and Mersea, are inhabited by thousands of people who trace their roots back to London, as much of Essex can. “There is a lot of snobbery involved, and it can be liberal metropolitan snobbery as much as home counties conservative snobbery,” Gran told me. “It was Liverpool, the start of the Beatles and all that, but there was no sense of being ‘upwardly mobile’.” Whereas Liverpool and other northern towns had their own industries, traditions and rituals that set them apart from London, Essex had become a place to escape family memories of poverty in the city.  Essex Voices Past. When Tebbit became the Conservative candidate for Epping in 1970, he didn’t seem to have much chance of winning. This accent is very widely used, especially among people under 60 years old, as people of all social classes mix together much more than they used to. “They buy their houses, they purchase their shares.” For Basildon, and by extension Essex, and maybe even the country itself, there seemed to be no coming back. My baffling text was finally solved. In all reality, the standard British accent was the one that changed significantly in the last two centuries while the American accent stayed more or less the same. 7 months ago. “Heard a chap on the radio this morning talking with a Cockney accent,” the old Etonian Tory PM Harold Macmillan said after hearing Tebbit’s voice for the first time. And there is the small matter of the Windrush, the ship that carried about 500 migrants from the Caribbean and docked in Tilbury in 1948. “It was awesome to see that transformation,” he told me on a warm late-summer afternoon in his vast back garden in Great Leighs, an Essex village not far from where he grew up. ‘Everyone loves a good Essex girl story, don’t they?’ … Tracy Playle in 2001. asildon, once a beacon of Labour’s postwar consensus politics, voted for Thatcher in every election she fought – until the name of the town itself came to somehow represent the societal shift that had taken place from socialist-influenced policymaking to I’m-all-right-Jack Thatcherism. “In exploring the stereotype,” David Crouch concluded, “we discover more about the media than those it sought to depict.” While Essex man was valorised by politicians for challenging class boundaries, Crouch suggested that the persistence of the Essex caricature actually proved the opposite – that snobbery was still alive and well. “I don’t think people have to apologise for striving and achieving.”, While Birds of a Feather was a warmer and more subtle commentary on class than many remember, the sitcom helped give the world the female counterpart to Essex man, Essex girl. As for Essex I think there are differences. This, finally, is the magic power of “Essex”. By Rebecca Creed @Becky_Creed Senior Reporter. Margaret Thatcher, left, with the Patterson family, the first people to purchase their council house under the Right to Buy scheme in 1980. y now, Essex was no longer just a county in south-east England. Both towns became home to many east Londoners whose homes had been destroyed by German bombing raids in the war. Head to London to take a day trip to Essex and discover the accent. In the long run that will be the real test.”, On the first day of term in 1966, six-year-old Simon Heffer gasped. During the American Revolution, the English language started to change in Britain. As the words came out of my mouth, I found myself talking with the true old Essex country accent. “There was this false understanding that Margaret Thatcher was a strong woman who could provide economic opportunities, she understood you wanting to get on,” Basildon’s former MP Angela Smith, who won a majority as Labour returned in 1997, told me. Before the influx, his classmates were the children of farmers and agricultural labourers, with old Essex accents more akin to the rounded rural burr of Suffolk or Norfolk. So why does the caricature persist? The idea originates from the sociolinguistic observation that some people in public life who would previously have been expected to speak with an RP accent now find it acceptable to speak with some characteristics of the London area... such as glottal stops, which would in earlier times have caused comment or disapproval". Perhaps one reason the Essex myth persists is the allure of an “authentic” England – whose views coincidentally always align with the politician currently invoking them. In 2009, after Francois had become an MP, David Cameron promoted him to the shadow cabinet as a sop to the Eurosceptic wing of the Conservative party. “But the policies were so damaging if you look at unemployment, you look at the industry. London. The caricature wasn’t exactly new: Ian Dury’s 1977 song Billericay Dickie had told the story of a self-starting lothario from Essex’s cockney diaspora who was “doing very well”. “It was awesome to see that transformation,” he told me on a warm late-summer afternoon in his vast back garden in Great Leighs, an Essex village not far from where he grew up. “We’re an entrepreneurial county, we don’t like being interfered with, we don’t like bureaucracy,” the MP for Harwich, Bernard Jenkin, told me when I asked him why Essex voted Brexit. In the press, confident pronouncements about “what the working class wants” – a rhetorical style that the writer Joe Kennedy calls “authentocracy” – invariably fixate on flags and foreigners rather than a living wage and local services. ", "Caught between Aristotle and Miss Marple… – A proposal for a perceptual prototype approach to 'Estuary English, Journal of the International Phonetic Association, "Estuary English and RP: Some Recent Findings", "Transcribing Estuary English: a discussion document", https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Estuary_English&oldid=1000190429#Traditional_Essex_and_Kent, Short description is different from Wikidata, Language articles with speaker number undated, Dialects of languages with ISO 639-3 code, Language articles without reference field, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. Essex types are often recruited as comic staples of reality shows such as Love Island, First Dates, Big Brother, X Factor – and, of course, the show that re-energised the stereotype in 2010, The Only Way is Essex. And I’m Tracy from Essex as well,” she said. “He was putting money on a horse,” said Heffer incredulously. But the spectre of Essex man is still haunting our politics – now as a gung-ho hard Brexiteer. n the first day of term in 1966, six-year-old Simon Heffer gasped. Although Essex man voted Conservative, many Conservatives viewed him with a mixture of fear and horror. Still, the rise of manufacturing in these newly metropolitan Essex hubs did not create prosperity for everyone. “That was the moment I realised that nothing is for ever.”, This sudden arrival was part of a sprawling new web of commuter districts that spread across the south of Essex. Rebecca Speare-Cole. Between 1921 and 1932, the population of Dagenham rose from 9,127 to 89,362 – an increase of 879%, largely thanks to the construction of Becontree, the largest council estate in the world. , Foulkes & Docherty (1999) state "All of its [EE's] features can be located on a sociolinguistic and geographical continuum between RP and Cockney, and are spreading not because Estuary English is a coherent and identifiable influence, but because the features represent neither the standard nor the extreme non-standard poles of the continuum". Luckily (or unluckily depending on your point of view), in Essex we've got a fairly distinctive accent, with TOWIE a big part of the reason it is known around the world. As much as they are mocked, these places come to symbolise something quite fundamental to the country that named them. Though only a few miles away from London, rural Essex folk have often been seen as backward by their neighbours in the capital – poor, poorly educated, clinging to superstitions long discarded by their urban counterparts. A place that offered hope to working-class Londoners in the form of “new towns” such as Basildon and Harlow, which were built by the state to meet dire housing, sanitation and civic needs after the second world war. Essex man, in Heffer’s portrait, was in thrall to excess without necessarily being able to handle it. But Basildon is where the Essex myth collides with reality. From Loadsamoney and ‘Basildon man’ to Towie and Brexit – Essex has long been held up as both the authentic England and the crudest, stupidest symbol of Englishness. Essex has long been denigrated, its people viewed with condescension, parts of its flat and treeless landscape disregarded. Make of that what you will. By the mid 90s, the threat of Essex girl was everywhere. 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