The Twickenham Museum
For children

Eel Pie Island
Former home to a bowling alley
1635

Part of Rocque map of 1741 showing the island in two parts

Early days

Twickenham Ait, now known as Eel Pie Island, may once have been connected to the riverbank by a pre-historic causeway. Stone age tools such as flints, horn implements, axes and hammers have been found in the river bed and on the island.

The pleasure steamer "Diamond" approaching the hotel on the island in about 1850

A place for enjoyment

Eel Pie Island only 600ft end-to-end has been a place to relax away from the hurly burly of Twickenham for hundreds of years. An early map of 1635 notes a plot of land as "hath bin A Boulding Alley" (a bowling alley).

The public house on the island since the 17th century, served its famous eel pies. Later, rebuilt as the Eel Pie Hotel it became a popular destination for boating parties and launched tea dances in the 1920s, Jazz concerts in the 1950s and Rythm and Blues gigs in the 1960s. It burnt down in 1971.

Crafts and boatbuilding

Boatbuilding was the traditional business of the island. Simms boatyard, now closed, was famous for building the Oxford and Cambridge boats.

Today the island supports a community of crafts people making everything from pottery to guitars and stained-glass. Trevor Baylis, the inventor of wind-up radios, remains on the island and is still inventing.

back to top