Eel Pie Island

There is a small island in the Thames, occupied by an old fisherman, who takes charge of the oziers that grow, and the swans that swim about there. The fisherman is as much monarch of his little island, as Buonaparte is of Elba; but he has one advantage which the Corsican islander has not- he has his empress to share the toils  of dominion with him, and to lighten his cares. The emperor bobs for eels, and his old woman manufactures them into excellent Pye’s. Few parties of pleasure pass the island without touching it to  refresh. We understand that this monarch derives a great portion of his revenue from the eel fisheries alone.

There was a bowling alley quoits court, and public house – originally the Ship and later the White cross – on Twickenham Ait by 1740. The popularity of the pies eventually led to the renaming of the island itself, and even in 1824, 6 years before the famous Eel pie hotel was built, John Evans referred to it as Eel Pie Island. Charles Dickens visited it & mentioned it in Nicholas Nickleby.
In the 1950s & 1960s the hotel became an important venue for jazz, rhythm & blues, & latterly rock, featuring performances by the Rolling Stones, the Who, and other groups till it closed in 1967.


2 thoughts on “Eel Pie Island

  1. I once released a hedgehog on Eel Pie island one evening in the 1980s. I worked as a motorcycle courier, and had rescued it from the middle of a busy road in Putney while on my way to see a mate who lived on the island. I put the creature in my topbox and rode to the island and over the little bridge. I let it out in a wooded area. My topbox was full of fleas. I am not making this up.
    I’ve thought about this incident since and wondered if I shouldn’t have introduced it onto the island. But I had to rescue it from where it was, and had to release it somewhere. It just happened to be there.


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