An island with naval connections
Eyot is an old English word meaning a small island. Until the 19th century, willows were grown on Platt's Eyot in Hampton for basket making.
In the late 19th century, electric launches were built on the island. They were very modern for their day.
Coastal Motor Boats
When Thornycroft took over the business, Coastal Motor Boats (CMBs) were built. These were used by the Royal Navy during World War 1.
CMBs could be used in shallow water and at speeds of 35 knots were very fast. They were used for dangerous work - slipping into enemy harbours, firing one or two torpedoes and making a quick getaway.
The sinking of a Russian Battle Cruiser
In 1919 the British Navy were involved in fighting the Russian Navy in the Baltic Sea. Lieutenant Augustus Agar noticed that there were Russian battle cruisers which could be attacked by his CMB4.
Lieutenant Agar and his crew of two had to pass close to some Russian destroyers to get to the cruisers.
"I throttled down to slow...close to two destroyers. I could see black hulls and waited for the gun flashes...but luckily for us (we) remained unseen.
I put on more speed...fired our torpedo at the Oleg...turned and made my way towards the Estonian coast...within a minute there was a thick column of smoke from the Oleg. Flashes came from all directions, the forts, the destroyers and the ship itself...we turned north towards the Finnish shore..."
Lieutenant Agar was awarded the Victoria Cross and his shipmates Sub Lieutenant Hampshier and Chief Mechanic Beeley were awarded medals for bravery.
After the action CMB4 was brought back to Britain and was displayed on Platt's Eyot for many years. The Victoria Cross was painted on her side. She is now on display at the Imperial War Museum at Duxford.