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This is it! I've given up work -retired from the rat race and am about to start on a 10 year adventure, doing all those things I've been meaning to do but never had the time to do them. I've offloaded my responsibilities and it is now my time. So follow my adventures and see whether I actually manage anything!



Monday, 28 July 2014

Eel Pie Island

There are a number of aits (islands) in the middle of the River Thames, the majority of which are small and uninhabited but there is one inhabited island that has always fascinated me and that is Eel Pie island in Twickenham. I went to College just outside Twickenham in a place called Strawberry Hill and it was during my time there in the late 60s early 70s that I first heard of the island. It is a private island and so I never managed to get onto it which just added to its mystique..



Whilst walking the Thames path last year I was reminded once more of the tales we used to hear about the drink and drug fuelled parties that took place there. There was a hotel on the island that attracted the likes of Charles Dickens during the 19th C who, along with other Londoners, would arrive by steamboat to spend the day in the grounds of the hotel. In the mid 20th C it became a venue for the jazz community and later in the 50s and 60s, the British music scene with groups like the Rolling Stones, The Who and the Yardbirds performing there. 





What I didn't know was that the island was owned by a former soldier and social researcher who wanted to set up his own world to see how the post WW2 generation would develop if given an opportunity to be themselves and meet influential people. I don't think the out come was quite what he expected but by giving a stage to those young British artists in the early 60s such as Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and many, many others he certainly had  an impact on the music world. In 1967 the hotel was closed as the owner couldn't afford the huge cost of repairs that the police said were needed to maintain the building's safety. A mysterious fire destroyed the hotel in 1971 bringing to an end any ideas I might have had of going to a music event there.


Nowadays the 500m long and 120m wide island is home to a sailing club, boatyard, nature reserve, lots of art studios and apparently 50 houses. The studios have an open day twice a year to and so finally a couple of weeks ago I got to step onto the island. It now has a bridge to take you across instead of a ferry.









Once across the elegant bridge you walk along a narrow path between small bungalows, sheds and houses. Flowers and greenery overflowing the white fencing,














There are 26 artists' studios scattered around a working boatyard.


























There was a variety of ceramics, watercolours, oils and prints on show in amongst the other strange artefacts such as the skeleton in the cage and lego men playing in the mud.














The old machinery still lying around


I was pleased to finally step foot on the island but disappointed not to be able to explore the nature reserves and other parts but they are strictly off limits to the general public. And if you're interested the name of the island is said to come from the days when Henry VIII stopped here on his way to Windsor to consume an eel pie.







Sharing with  Our World Tuesday



32 comments:

  1. Hi Marie, Glad you finally got to visit that little island... There are lots of homes/shops, etc. on that island.. Has there ever been a storm --which could do flooding on that island???? I'd be a little afraid of that --but maybe it's because we have so many big storms here which can flood so many things so quickly...

    Thanks for sharing the 'ait' with us... I had never heard that word...
    Hugs,
    Betsy

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  2. Great sequence of shots. Looks like a fun place to explore.

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  3. A fascinating story and I'm so pleased you managed to finally explore this mysterious island. You came back with a fine set of pictures too.

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  4. Great photos of a fascinating place with an even more fascinating past.I wonder what it will become next?

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  5. In the 1950s I went to a convent school in Twickenham even closer to Eel Pie Island than your college. It was talked of in hushed tones as the local den of iniquity, which only increased its attraction!

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  6. What a great place and such fascinating history indeed! Wonderful captures! Thanks, as always, for sharing!! Have a wonderful week!

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  7. Love the cute little cottages! And really like the island's name.

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  8. How great that you could finally visit Eel Pie Island and take us for a walk around. a very chequered past for sure but I guess that adds to it's uniqueness.

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  9. Wow! I just adore the cottages and the little fence. I felt like I got to walk around there too.

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  10. An interesting name for an island where so many famous people have stepped. Sounds like it was a worthy social experiment that lost its way but now tells a different story about how things change.

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  11. What fun to visit the island but I would have been disappointed to not be allowed to visit the nature reserve.

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  12. It is very interesting story about the island and nice pics. Thanks

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  13. The Thames is full of surprises. What a pity you weren't able to see more, but what you did see is quite fascinating. The cottages look charming.

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  14. So interesting, and quite a reputation for a little ait. I would love a peek in the cottages and gardens. I wonder who gets to live there.

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  15. How cool so many famous artist and people have visited this island. It does have an awesome history. Wonderful photos, thanks for the tour..Have a happy week!

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  16. Thanks for taking us on your adventure - glad you finally got to visit the island. (Can't imagine an eel pie whetting anyone's appetite though!!)

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  17. Great series of shots and tour for OWT ~ thanks, glad you are having fun!

    artmusedog and carol (A Creative Harbor)

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  18. Interesting spot. I guess some people still call the island home The artists must have other outlets to sell their creations since the island isn't open very often. Eel pie. Something we didn't try when we were there.

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  19. That looks like a very pretty island - nice shots.

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  20. It looks bait run down in places but it sounds like it could be developed into a nice place for artists and the public to enjoy.

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  21. What a interesting post. Learn something everyday. That bridge is so inviting and what a surprise at what is on the other side!

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  22. I have heard of the place but did not realise it was like that. Does it suffer from flooding like other parts of the Thames?

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  23. Oh, Eel Pie Island looks wonderful place to visit♡♡♡ Made me feel to cross the elegant bridge.
    Thank you SO much for the wonderful trip with your pictures♫♫♫
    Sending you Lots of Love and Hugs from Japan, xoxo Miyako*

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  24. Wonderful shots from island. A unique experience.

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  25. That does look like a great place to visit, and an even better place to live! Although I am not sure how relaxed it would be when the river is in flood!

    I'll bow to your local knowledge on the brand of pain!

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

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  26. That is nice to visit and explore a place you always wanted to see. A hidden treasure.

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  27. I really enjoyed visiting this place with you. The whole idea of "eel pie," however, is very offputting. :-)

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  28. Thanks for the info on the name of the island. And I learned something new (to me) - 'aits.' Charles Dickens and Eric Clapton - very interesting and famous personalities. I always miss Eric Clapton's concerts in Bangkok. Next time I hope.

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  29. Incredible! Did you tell how you managed to get to go to the Island? (Maybe I missed it, in a bit of a hurry, -- we are traveling and I'm trying to catch up a little tonight while we have decent wifi). Loved this interesting post.

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