Today’s brilliant guest is journalist and author, Andy Bull, who has lived in London for the best part of 40 years. Author of two books about London, on today’s podcast we talk about Andy’s book: Secret Twickenham, Whitton, Teddington, and the Hamptons. Now I’m sure all of you will have heard of the Cavern Club in Liverpool where the Beatles made their name, but chances are you’ve never heard of the Eel Pie Island in Twickenham—which in the 60’s was a favorite spot for the likes of the Rolling Stones, David Bowie, and Rod Stewart to play.
These parts of west London are home to many secrets and have many glorious stories to reveal, and Andy is the perfect host. Listen in as we dive into the Thames which was once full of salmon, eels, and trout—take a trip around Henry the VIII’s Hampton court palace, and wander around the film studios at Teddington, and the home of English rugby. This is Your London Legacy.
“The wonderful thing about London is anyone can be a Londoner, wherever you’re from, whatever your background, if you want to understand the values of London and respect London—you’re welcome.”
Once people started to get free time in the modern era of London, they began to spend it down by the river on the Thames. Centuries back it was a burgeoning hotspot of trade and recreation, and because of that there are a wealth of secrets and history in every bend and path along its shores.
These secrets are the foundation for Andy’s book about Twickenham, Whitton, Teddington, and the Hamptons. He has curated a selection of them that he found most interesting—one of which deals with the music hotbed of Eel Pie Island.
Eel Pie Island became a musical venue due to a man of the name Arthur Chisnall, a frustrated sociologist with an interest in youth subculture. He worked on creating a rundown hotel on this small spit of island in the middle of the river into a music venue. In coordinating with authorities, you needed a special Eel Pie Island passport to cross over on a rowboat and listen to the bands—something done to keep an eye on youth who might go off the rails. It was set up to encourage healthy community and creativity under the guise of being a rebel headquarters for upcoming musicians and one of the birthplaces of rock ‘n roll.
“What I aimed to do was pick out lesser known things—things which people who lived in those areas their whole lives might not know about, or aspects of those things they may not have known about.”
In the 18th and 19th century the market gardens covered about 40% of Twickenham and the Hamptons while employing around 15,000 people—essentially feeding London. The Thames back then was teeming with salmon and trout, but in time due to pollution the fish disappeared. This bothered a local angler who went on to pioneer fish farming (still a theory at this point), and in conjunction with the Thames conservancy, they released 200,000 small fish into the river after just five years. This technology was spread the help rivers all across the globe, all stemming from the Francis Fish Hatchery.
These are but a few of the secrets Andy’s book holds and stand out as a testament for the rich history of London and the stories hiding in every nook and cranny.
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