05.10.2017

The Island of Music in West London

The amazing story of Eel Pie Island, a tiny islet in the Thames River that has played a crucial role in the history of 20th century British music

  • The Island of Music in West London
  • The Island of Music in West London
  • The Island of Music in West London
  • The Island of Music in West London
  • The Island of Music in West London
  • The Island of Music in West London
  • The Island of Music in West London
  • The Island of Music in West London
  • The Island of Music in West London
  • The Island of Music in West London

Walking along the banks of the River Thames in Twickenham, West London, you will spot a graceful pedestrian bridge that leads up to an islet in the middle of the river.
 
Legend has it that Henry VIII used to come here to meet his lovers, but the name of the island, Eel Pie Island, is simply derived from the delicious eel-stuffed pies sold by locals to passing traders sailing along the river.
 
Curiously, though, Eel Pie Island also has had a prominent role in the history of British music. Until 1967, on the island there was a famous nineteenth-century hotel, the Eel Pie Island Hotel, known since the 1920s for hosting great jazz musicians.
 
In 1956, junk-shop owner Arthur Chisnall brought the Eel Pie Island Jazz Club back to life and turned it into the Eelpiland Club, and the venture had such a huge success that starting from 1963 the venue hosted The Rolling Stones and subsequently artists of the likes of David Bowie, Black Sabbath, The Who and Pink Floyd.
 
In other words, this islet took a leading role on the map of British jazz, blues and rock music. However, that golden age was destined to end shortly: in 1967, not having enough money to take care of the necessary repair works, Chisnall closed down the club, which was later occupied first by a group of anarchists, and then by the largest hippie common in Britain. In 1970, a mysterious fire put an end to the glorious history of the Eel Pie Island Hotel, completely devastating the building.
 
Yet the people of the island - a small and eclectic community of fewer than 150 people among which are many artists and craftsmen - and the Twickenham residents have not forgotten about this memorable past.
 
One of them, Michele Whitby, launched the idea of ​​opening a proper museum dedicated to the island and to the events that made it famous, to be housed along the main street of the neighborhood. After collecting public funds and private contributions and gathering images, objects and memorabilia related to the Eelpiland Club music adventure and setting up a pop-up museum at the Twickenham Library in 2015, Whitby finally seems to have succeeded and in the coming summer the Eel Pie Island Museum will finally open its doors in its permanent location. The address is 1-3 Richmond Road, in the very heart of Twickenham.
 

Author : The Slowear Journal

SlowearTags.

England  | London  | Twickenham  | West London  | Eel Pie Island  | 1960s  | music  | rock'n'roll  | jazz  | soul  | The Rolling Stones  |

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