The Artists of Eel Pie Island

Eel Pie Island, London

This weekend it was open studio day at Eel Pie Island.  Twice a year, in June and December, this private island, which has become a haven for artists over the past few years, opens to the public.

Eel Pie Island is in the middle of the Thames near Twickenham.  This weekend (and next too) the drawbridge goes down and people are invited to wander along a well-used path and enter the studios of the various artists who live on the island.



The island is just a short walk from Twickenham station.  You cross the bridge and wander around an eclectic mix of houses and gardens.  Of course the purpose is to sell artwork, although there’s no pressure to buy.  I didn’t buy anything, since I’m still effectively homeless and the last thing I need is something else to throw into my storage unit.

Instead I spent my time there indulging my favourite fantasy where I am sitting in an artistic commune with nothing more demanding than producing my next piece of artwork (the problem is, after producing it I somehow have to sell it, and this is where the fantasy becomes a little unstuck).

Eel Pie island has an interesting history.  At one time it contained the Eel Pie Hotel, famous as the home of rhythm and blues, where Long John Baldry, the Rolling Stones, David Bowie (then called David Jones) and a whole bunch of others performed.  The hotel closed in 1967, re-emerged briefly as a rock venue for artists such as Black Sabbath and Hawkwind, then burnt to the ground in 1971.

There are now some local venues in Twickenham where they try to keep the musical traditions alive, but Eel Pie Island itself is now a somewhat quieter place.


The island has around fifty homes along with the artist studios and a couple of boatyards.  It also has a couple of nature reserves (not open to the general public) and is home to Twickenham Rowing club.

If you fancy it, the island will be open next weekend (1st/2nd July) or else there is a long wait until December when you will get your next chance.

8 replies »

  1. Hello Sarah looks interesting. I’m with you, can’t keep buying ‘stuff’ but it looks a lovely place. Take care xx

    • Well there’s a limit to how much new stuff you need, isn’t there? Particularly when somebody else is living in your home …

    • Yes it’s a strange place. You’re only allowed on a couple of times a year, and they keep you to a short pathway around the island

    • I didn’t notice any Sindy’s (and I would have noticed because I”m a huge fan). It’s a nice little afternoon out though.

  2. I’m sorry, but there is not private access only to Eel Pie Island. Anyone can wander over the bridge and along the path through its centre at any time of the year. There is no public access to the other side of the island and there may have been attempts to make it private in the past. I have lived in Twickenham for over 40 years and apart from the period when British Gas damaged the bridge I have never known of restricted access. Non-residents happily visit the excellent Twickenham Rowing Club and the boat yards. There is however a mad woman currently resident on the island who makes silent threatening gestures at people she encounters on the path

    • Haha that’s so funny. I understood it was a private island and they just let people on twice a year, but I’ve never tried any other time so you must be right

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