The Eel Pie Island Museum which documents the island’s rich music heritage has opened in its new home. After a pop up show at the Stables Gallery in 2013 and a temporary exhibition at Twickenham Library in 2015, the collection of musical memorabilia is now in a more permanent base on Twickenham’s Richmond Road. The building itself started life as one of the town’s first cinemas.
Covering the British jazz and rhythm and blues explosion that took place on the island from the mid 1950s through to 1970 the museum is a treasure trove of photographs, posters, accounts of who played there and when, and how the Eel Pie Island Hotel on this tiny Thames island earned such an important place in Britain’s music heritage. From the earliest informal gigs put on by Brian Rutland’s Grove Jazz Band which were soon superseded by Arthur Chisnall booking more and bigger acts, right through its R&B days, to the hotel’s final incarnation as a hippy commune, the museum takes visitors on a journey through an era of musical and social change.
If you’re not familiar with Eel Pie Island’s place in the grand musical scheme of things then you’ll certainly have heard of some of the names that performed at the famous hotel: Acker Bilk, Eric Clapton, The Rolling Stones, The Downliners Sect, The Artwoods, Rod Stewart, Davy Jones (soon to become David Bowie) all appeared. There were of course, many, many more.
The new look museum now also has sections devoted to the Island’s boat building heritage and to the life and inventions of Trevor Baylis, who lived on the island for many years until his death earlier in March 2018.
The museum is curated by Michele Whitby, a life long local resident and Eel Pie Islander. She has built up the collection of musical memorabilia and it continues to grow. The new location is a testament to her vision and the determination of the Eel Pie Island Museum team to find somewhere to showcase the collection on a more permanent basis. And if you like what you see there’s a small shop on site where you can purchase gifts and souvenirs. If you’ve not been yet, go!
The Eel Pie Island Museum is located at 1-3 Richmond Road, Twickenham, TW1 3AB and is open from Thursday to Sunday from 12.00 to 6.00pm.
* Eel Pie Island Museum
Other Twickenham Music Heritage Links:
* Live Music @ The Eel Pie Club
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