Eel Pie Island

3 Sep, 2009 | GeneralTdp

The name sounds more like something out of a novel, but when I was reading an article where inventor Trevor Baylis was calling for the theft of intellectual property to be criminalised I noticed this:

Mr Baylis, who lives in an eccentric house-cum-workshop which he built himself on Eel Pie Island, in the middle of the River Thames off Twickenham...

I'd never heard of Eel Pie Island, I was also had visions of this 'house-cum-workshop' and so had a quick search. Eel Pie Island, is in the Thames, in Richmond and is only accessible by boat or footbridge. It has about 50 houses on it and was very famous for the Eel Pie Hotel, which became known as a jazz mecca as well as hosting other music, although it burnt down in 1971.

I found an article about Baylis' house over at He is a big jazz fan and vowed to build a house on the island as soon as he could afford to, which he did in 1970, buying the land and building it himself. When asked if there was anything unusual about his house he replies:

At the time I built it the Thames Flood Barrier had yet to be constructed and the area was prone to flooding. So when I built an indoor swimming pool I used the soil I excavated to erect a raised area at the rear [which backs on to the Thames] to prevent the house ever being flooded. I also put all the power points halfway up the walls so that if the water did ever come in they wouldn’t go bang. The doors have flood boards. It’s also got an extensive ground-floor workshop.

I can't find any good images of the workshop itself though.