Arcadian Times

Founded May 8th, 2009

 
         

Eel Pie Island

A heritage plaque was unveiled on April 24th 2009, to commemorate the musicians and cultural heritage of Eel Pie island. The ceremony went ahead with councillors from neighbouring boroughs attending as well as the Chilean ambassador and his wife. Councillor Helen Lee-Parsons, the Mayor of Richmond hosted the ceremony attended by some of the musicians who played at Eel Pie in it's heyday of the late sixties.

       

The plaque was unveiled on a temporary position as the riverfront was undergoing maintenance with the planting of new trees and cementing of new flowerbeds and riverside benches. The plaque has now been repositioned to it's correct position overlooking Eel Pie Island.

The history of Eel Pie island will be known to some, probably as the birthplace of some of rock n’ rolls finest bands and singers. The Rolling Stones, The Who, Rod Stewart all played at the Eel Pie Hotel in the sixties. Eel Pie was a mecca to the nascent music of the sixties and the emerging hippy culture. It was most definitely the place to go if you were apart of that culture in the sixties and early seventies. The Eel Pie hotel's history goes back further to Victorian times when it was a reknowned 19th Century venue and a dancehall in the early decades of the 20th Century.

The values and ideals of the culture that were an integral part of Eel Pie have long since left. They have either been transformed, subsumed or forgotten. One time rebel rouser Mick Jagger is now Sir Mick. Would anybody have thought that could be possible at the time? In many ways the culture of the time was avant-garde ahead of itself, concerned about global issues and intent on making a better world. In some ways these values have succeeded in other ways perhaps they have failed. The world has become more consumerist, more cynical and perhaps more dangerous.

History has a habit of going full circle. The Eel Pie Hotel was closed down in the early seventies after complaints and various police raids. The hotel is no longer there and has since given way to housing. It was considered to be a place of bad repute by local residents and the authorities. Now, in the 21st Century it is commemorated and the unveiling of the heritage plaque demonstrates how attitudes can change.

The Eel Pie club have successfully kept the tradition of the island's musicians alive, organising rhythm and blues gigs in Twickenham and meeting regularly at the Cabbage Patch hotel. http://www.eelpieclub.com/

The website http://www.eelpie.org/ shows some interesting pictures of the island and in some ways act as a reunion site for those who were a part of the Eel Pie scene in the sixties. Eel Pie stands as a name and a place irrevocably wed to the history of British musical heritage. The island's significance in this heritage should not be underestimated. The plaque stands testimony to not only the musicians of Eel Pie but those who went and listened to the music and in some ways dreamt of a better World.


Article: Arcadian Times.