Trowlock Island



               Trowlock Island from Thames Path

A sliver of land cut from the mainland by a narrow backwater – this was Trowlock Island on the Thames where I lived every weekend from Easter to September and throughout the Summer Holidays when I was young. Although it was only about a third of a mile long it had everything any child could possibly want.

At the ferry end was a clearing where we played ball games – usually French Cricket – and at the far end a wooded area where wildfowl nested and there were blackberries and flowers to pick as well as places to hide and trees to climb. Here we became intrepid explorers fighting through the jungle or Indians fishing from the banks and swimming in the river or Tarzan and Jane swinging from ropes we tied to the trees;  but most often we were Pirates because we all had boats – dinghies or Canadian canoes.

There were hardly any adults around during the day, and the only children were Islanders – it was a private Island so the ferryman fended off any potential invaders – and we enjoyed almost total freedom, only returning to base at mealtimes or to exchange wet bathing things for dry bathing things.

Because of the risk of flooding in winter none of the 29 bungalows was occupied

all year round and there was no mains electricity or drainage; the only running water was from a single standpipe for all the residents. There was gas for lighting – although we usually went to bed when it got dark – and for cooking.

Meals were simple – scrambled eggs or sardines on toast – except when the adults came with ingredients for Sunday lunch and then we were dragooned into shelling peas or chopping mint for mint sauce. In summer the El Dorado man rowed round in his white boat selling ice-cream.

When I was older I had friends from School and University to stay and then we ventured further afield – rowing upstream to Hampton Court and downstream to Richmond and Kew; my last Island holiday was my honeymoon, over sixty years ago, but the memories of a magical place to grow up in remain.

What of the Island now? There are still 29 Bungalows most of which have been rebuilt with all mains facilities and are occupied all year round; a self-operated chain ferry has replaced the ferryman and the small craft are mostly motor launches. It is advertised as one of the most desirable rural areas within a short distance of the City. I would not argue with that.




Ann currently runs a Creative Writing Group for University of the Third Age in Edinburgh.

Me Jan 2015


10 responses to “Trowlock Island”

  1. Angie Avatar

    Hi – I’ve just posted a link on the Twickenham and Teddington Memories Facebook page to your wonderful Trowlock Island webpage 🙂 Kind Regards Angie

    1. Albert Avatar

      Thanks Angie. But don’t see the link.

  2. Clive Higginson Avatar
    Clive Higginson

    Just seen this, lovely to read of trowlock island’s history and your many enjoyable times here so long ago!

    32 Trowlock Island

  3. Clive Higginson Avatar
    Clive Higginson

    Albert, I have just seen your post about Trowlock Island. It is lovely to hear memories of this lovely pace.

    Clive Higginson
    32 Trowlock Island

    1. Kamber Sokulsky Avatar

      Hi Clive. It’s Kamber. How are you???

  4. Bernie Avatar

    I sat on that very bench earlier today catching a few moment of solace.
    Bernie, Trowlock Islander

  5. Dick Bazalgette Avatar
    Dick Bazalgette

    The wooded end of the Island was invaded after dark by Fairies, which we male teenagers were able to show our girlfriends! Many happy memories!

  6. Kamber Sokulsky Avatar

    I miss Trowlock Island. Loved living there! Was a very magical time in my life. Oh, how I MISS England!!!

  7. Pete Baker Avatar
    Pete Baker

    I too have wonderful memories of Trowlock Island. My grandfather had a bungalow there. It was paradise on Earth. Boats, fishing, swimming, what more could a young lad wish for? Too young for any say in the matter, sadly , it was sold in the early 60’s. I have missed those times ever since.
    Thanks for the above piece. Made an old fella recall what it was like when young.

  8. Ben Avatar

    I lived on the river nearby during the 1980s and had friends who lived on Trowlock Island. It was indeed a magical place. If you remember Trowlock you’ll remember the big wooden ship’s anchor outside the house opposite St John The Baptist school.,_larboard_kedge_outside_Leander_House.jpg
    Well; get this; the new owners of that house have REMOVED said anchor. Sacrilege.

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