News, comment & ill-informed opinion for the Twickerati of Twickenham



If you’ve read this before, just scroll down to the comments. If not, read on.

Here’s a mini-project that needs you to get involved, write a few words and make it happen. Yes, you read that correctly.

The project
Quite frequently, but perhaps not frequently enough, we ask twickerati readers if they want to contribute to the site. And some of you do. Thanks! Now, imagine what it would be like if we could have more contributions about Twickenham life – personal memories, if you will – that would not only make great copy on here but also become something of a permanent record of Twickenham past and Twickenham present.

Various social history projects have captured people’s memories on audio, video and online. For example, the BBC’s “People’s War” project in 2003-2006 recorded huge numbers of personal testimonies about WW2. Did you know that Pope’s grotto was used as an air raid shelter by St Catherine’s School or about the V1 landing in the town centre? First hand accounts make for fascinating reading. If you want something more recent and less traumatic, check out our Memories of Twickenham Baths article and the comments on it to hear about rushing down to the pool on a summer’s day or the time the lady fainted in the queue. Remember?

But it doesn’t always have to be memories that make compelling content, current events fit the bill just as well. TV, radio, newspapers and websites all record the big stories of the day but sometimes miss the smaller detail, the stuff that makes up everyday life.

So what could you do?
By writing just a few hundred words about “Your Twickenham”, you could play a part in creating a collection of first-hand articles about the town, past and present, that could develop into a social history of Twickenham actually written by its people. Who knows, it could become something that goes beyond this website.

The content?
Whether it’s what you did when Bradley Wiggins rode through Twickenham in 2012 or your memories of the town in the war, let’s hear them. Whether it’s a story about watching blues bands on Eel Pie Island, your memories of one of the long-gone cinemas or of breaking your ankle at Richmond ice rink, or just an insight into school life from the 40s to the noughties, let’s hear it. Or perhaps you want to write about when Twickenham didn’t have any charity shops (is that possible), how you came here to study at St Mary’s University but never left, the day you moved into your first Twickenham house or the day snow brought Twickenham to a standstill, that’s all great too. Recent is good! After all, today’s personal accounts become tomorrow’s history.

Serious, funny, thoughtful or even a little bit ranty. As long as it fits the brief, it’s your call.

Who will see it?
The potential scope is broad (but needs a little help to fulfil it). How about plotting articles on a map, adding video and audio, or creating a timeline? Getting a town to produce its own social history of the last few decades could be fascinating. Are you in?

How do I get involved?
If you want to contribute a short piece (200-800 words) add it below, or to just discuss this idea drop an email to

Mentioned above:
* Twickerati: Memories of Twickenham Baths
* BBC History: Pope’s Grotto as St Catherine’s School air raid shelter
* BBC People’s History: a V1 flying bomb lands on Twickenham

Examples of social history projects:
* City of Memory – New York
* Murmur – Toronto (audio memories)
* US “Digital humanities project”

134 thoughts on “Nostalgia

  1. John Snelling Nov16th 2018.
    My first encounter with Eel Pie Island at Twickenham wa nearly in 1955 shortly after a relative bought a hire-boat business on the Island. It was called The “Rivercars & Dock Co Ltd”. The chalet type bungalow fronting the dock onto the Thames opposite Ham Field
    was then flat roofed with a small gazebo in the centre and railings around the edge. The dock accommodating some 6 houseboats and a slipway, was entered via a tunnel under the lounge of the bungalow. There were always 5 or 6 boats moored in the dock. There were 2 slipways up to the boat repair sheds adjoining the dock. This property was situated next door to the now defunct Eel-Pie Island Hotel the owned by Michael Snapper.
    I started visiting Eel-pie about 1955 in the second year of my 5 year apprenticeship at Vickers Armstrongs Ltd at the old Brooklands race track near Weybridge. I used to travel by train from Weybridge station to Twickenham; walk to Twickenham slipway then catch the chain ferry across to the Island. At Ricercars we had some 16 14ft 5 seater launches for hire from sites at Eel-pie itself, Kingston and Taggs Island at Hampton Court. There was a gate leading from our slipway to the Hotel next door and I quite often visited the ballroom where popular trad bands of the day would “do their thing”. Snapper later introduced an Eel-Pie passport for the beatniks and jazz fans that came across on the ferry. He later had a pedestrian bridge built which still stands today.
    I was employed hiring out the rivercars tied up alongside 2 long pontoons which acted as a mooring. The boats had 2 types of motor. Some had Norman twin opposed cylinder air-cooled engines and the rest had Stuart Turner 2 stroke water cooled engines. The propellors had reversible pitch lever controlled screws, giving a top speed of about 4 knots. They were all painted red and cream.
    There was also a 25ft cruiser for hire called “Regiolou” and my”uncle’s” personal cruiser was “Bundy”.
    I sometimes would run the site at Kingston and occasionally Taggs Island. I recall an incident one night at the Teddington end of the Island when a female for a local mental hospital ventured out into the thames at low tide on a spit of sand. We were asked to jump in a Rivercar and rescue this poor lady, then take her to Twickenham slip from where she was taken to hospital. She recovered and we got a mention in the local press!
    My “uncle” then worked for the MoD in London and I would row accross to the slipway in our dinghy to meet him when the ferry was not working. On one occasion there was very fast flood tide running and I just managed to get to the slip. I had to row with my uncle pushing the oars as hard as possible and we drifted down towards the Kinston end of the Island before we could land the dinghy -very scary.
    I have found recent pictures of the bungalow which now has pitched roof with a small room where the gazebo stood.
    Does anyone know if the dock and houseboats are still there?

  2. Have only just seen Malcolm’s comment on 27Sept2018 re Thames Valley School. Can’t recall his Mum, June Tooke, I’m afraid, but I was two years younger than her, born 1928. Such a pity, as we attended the School during the same years. Delighted to hear that HW Bligh was still H/M when his sister attended TV later. Mrs Bligh lived to a fairly great age and I met her in 1987 or 88 at that Old Thamesians reunion. But, an Old Hamptonian eh, Malcolm! You dont know what you missed! We had GIRLS, dancing in the school hall in wet dinner-hours, and much, much more. Though we did usually lose to Hampton G.S. at cricket!! But it was worth it! An Old Hamptonian, Bill Walkinshaw, now 90, with whom I sailed on a troopship to Singapore in 1947, and who now lives in West Sussex, has just dropped me a line. We are both ancient, gnarled and creaking, since meeting up again some years ago but, Hey-Ho, we’re still here, remembering our Twickenham days of old.

  3. Hi again I was born at Chiswick but lived at 90 Lisbon avenue with my parents Ron and Hazel and grandparents Tom and Jessie Hollands who were retired ,my other grandparents Bill and Emily Doubtfire lived at 6 Butts cottages Hanworth , Bill worked for Mckinnons Transport in Campbell road delivering mainly potatoes and veg to Petticoat Lane and other markets /shops,he went onto work at Firestones on the Great West Road.I remember going in the Fountain Pub off license to get my crisps on way to Twickenham past the Five oaks pub and the road to my first school Trafalgar,then past fourth cross road where for many years in my later teens call into The Graveyard ! Dennis Heath(sadly no longer here with us) for bike parts I bought an Ariel Square four with a wicker work sidecar for £50 off him! onwards down to The Green with Blays and Maple Leaf pharmacy where my great friend Galen Rosenberg lived, then through The Dip (still flooding I see ) to Beasleys religiously dragging dad to see the Scalextrics/trains and Airfix kits WOW ! ,next past Alsfords to woolworths etc to get the weekly shopping mainly at the Co Op still remember number 1223270 am I sad or what ?? , Then start the long way back to Lisbon Avenue loaded down with bags thank God in 1961 we moved to 1 Montpelier Row (council owned then offered to dad in 1969 for £1000 didnt want mortgage HO HUM IF ONLY !!! thats enough for now, Tony Doubtfire.Lived in Basingstoke since 1971 but Twickenham still home.

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