Eel Pie Island

Eel Pie Island, in the River Thames at Twickenham in London, can be reached only by footbridge or boat. Eel Pie Island was earlier called Twickenham Ait and, before that, The Parish Ait; even earlier the island was three separate aits.

A bridge to the island was proposed in 1889, but it was not until 1957 that one was completed. Today, the island has about 50 houses and 120 inhabitants, some small businesses, and nature reserves at either end. It is also home to Twickenham Rowing Club, one of the oldest rowing clubs on the Thames, and Richmond Yacht Club.

The Eel Pie Studios, owned by Pete Townshend, were the location of several significant pop and rock recordings. Townshend's publishing company, Eel Pie Publishing Limited, is named after the ait.

For his 2005 television show How To Start Your Own Country, presenter Danny Wallace claimed to be "Leader" of Eel Pie Island after invading the island via the footbridge. After a few hours, the Metropolitan police forced him to peacefully give the island back to HM Elizabeth II.

Eel Pie Island Hotel

The island was the site of the now legendary Eel Pie Hotel which was a genteel 19th century building that hosted ballroom dancing during the 1920s and 1930s. In the 1950s it became a venue for jazz and in the 1960s, for rock and R&B.

Many famous names had performed at the hotel between 1962 and 1967:

In 1967, the Eel Pie Island Hotel was forced to close because the owner could not meet the £200,000 cost of repairs demanded by police. Squatters soon moved in. In 1969, the Club briefly reopened as Colonel Barefoot's Rock Garden, with bands like Black Sabbath, The Edgar Broughton Band, and Led Zeppelin.

In 1971, the Eel Pie Island Hotel burned down in a mysterious fire. The centre of the island was devastated by fire in 1996 and a year later the footbridge was damaged by a utilities contractor. A new footbridge opened in August 1998.

Image gallery

Despite its small size, Eel Pie Island has a wide variety of building styles.

Notable residents

Eel Pie Island was also the setting of a murder mystery written by David Frome (Zenith Brown) in 1932. It was part of the Mr. Pinkerton Series, featuring amateur sleuth, Evan Pinkerton, a widower Welshman, and his friend, Chief Inspector J. Humphrey Bull of Scotland Yard.

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External links

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