The Trimdon Cockney.

The following story is about my brother–in–law George Ernest Bull, born in London, a soldier, who lived most of his life in Trimdon Village. As an “outsider”, he made many valuable contributions to this community.  He died in Sedgefield, April 2006 after living  about  60 years in the Village.

Written by: John Robinson. –  May 27th. 2016
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George Ernest Bull

George was born in the Holborn District of London in July of 1919. He was the fourth child of John Joseph and Catherine (nee Mason) Bull. John Joseph worked as a newsboy in the office of the Star newspaper, his wife Catherine worked as a canvass tent maker. Together they had eight children and lived in a small house on Malta Street, Clerkenwell, London. John Joseph was of small stature being just over 5 feet tall. He enlisted in December of 1915 and was mobilised in April 1916 and assigned to the 9th Battalion Norfolk Regiment, as a private. He embarked for France in December of 1916 and was there until the end of January, 1919.

John Joseph was also from a large family, his father Joseph died in 1906 leaving his widow Alice Mary (nee Fitzgerald) with five children to support. In their 17 years of marriage, they had had 11 children of which five had died. Joseph was a warehouse porter and his family did not receive any benefits when he died. At the time of the 1911 Census, Alice and five of her children were living in a two room house on Pickering Street, Islington. Alice was working as a charwoman, daughter Ellen Louise 22, a bottle washer in a brewery, son John Joseph 20 a newsboy, son James Albert 17 a porter in a veneer mill, daughters Lily Primrose 10 and Rose Alice 7 were still at school.

The Bull family and their close relatives were all working class people, doing a variety of jobs. These included cabinet making, picture frame making, zinc worker, tie maker, polisher, cowman, milk delivery, book folder, silk wire worker, labourers, etc.  George also followed this family trend and was apprenticed to a company making jewellery boxes.

We do not have many memories of his early years except for the visits to the seaside at Southend and the days spent in Kent picking hops and fruit with the family. We do know that he was very active in the Boys Club Movement.

The East End of London was heavily populated and congested, the majority of boys (and girls) left school at 14 years old to join the workforce. The only place they had to socialise, was the streets, which was perceived as a social problem. The Boys Club Movement was started to provide places to go and get involved in activities like: sports, leadership, the arts, etc. Clement Atlee was part of this organisation for a few years before he became leader of the Labour Party and Prime Minister.

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