eel piland hotel

Over the summer and autumn of 2013, Aurora Metro Arts and Media, in association with Arts Richmond and the Eel Pie Club, produced a major arts and education project The Eel Pie Island Music Project about the extraordinary music history of Eel Pie Island in Twickenham.

In the early 1960s, Richmond and Twickenham became the focal point of English R & B and Rock ‘n’ Roll. Two key venues were the Crawdaddy Club in Richmond, and the Eel Pie Hotel Club, located on a small island in the River Thames in Twickenham. The club ‘Eelpiland’ was part of a music revolution that was to change popular music for ever and helped to define an entire era of music history. Its legacy continues to be a major influence on today’s UK music scene.

As Rod Stewart put it, in his autobiography “Rod”:

“When you dressed up in your finery and carefully arranged your hair and set off for Eel Pie Island, you had that palm-tingling sense you were heading somewhere truly exotic…the place was its own country…a fantastically exciting destination, and the place where I really began to understand the power of rhythm and blues, when it’s done right.”

Our project featured:
  • A major exhibition full of memorabilia and photographs of ‘Eelpiland’ at Arts Richmond’s Orleans House in Twickenham, curated by Michele Whitby, and one of the most popular exhibitions ever hosted at The Stables Gallery, with over 6000 visitors over 2 months.
  • A new documentary film ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Island’ capturing Eel Pie’s extraordinary history through archive footage and interviews with key players, which won 4 awards at film festivals in the UK and USA. The documentary was premiered at Raindance Film festival in 2015 and a feature-length version was broadcast on BBC4 in 2020. It was named a Sunday Times Critics Choice  and radio Times Pick of the Week programme, attracting around 750,000 viewers.
  • Live music events at the Eel Pie Club with bands and guest musicians including The Carnabys, The Others, Birdwood and guest musicians, and a special gig featuring new young bands from Heatham House Youth Centre.
  • A new book publication, The British Beat Explosion, all about the Eel Pie scene. Written by Michele Whitby and music journalist Zoe Howe, it features photos and memorabilia, written accounts from musicians and clubgoers and a contextual history. The book has subsequently been voted Best Blues Book of 2014 by Blues Matters magazine.
  • A series of talks, guided tours and workshops as part of our project.
  • A collection of over 70 interviews and first hand accounts of ‘Eelpiland’ through written contributions and oral history interviews, as well as documentation and photographic archive of ‘Eelpiland’ – visit the ‘Your Memories’ to read submitted accounts from clubgoers and listen to edited extracts of our spoken word collection. If you have a memory you’d like to submit, please click here.
  • Over 25 volunteers assisting on the project, interviewing people, making a project archive and catalog of this extraordinary heritage for future generations. A digital collection of interviews, photos and memorabilia is lodged with Richmond Local Studies, available to the public in the summer of 2014.
Our project has now ended, but if you’d like to be kept in touch with future events, please contact us and we will add you to our mailing list –

News: An ‘edited’ version of the exhibition was displayed at Brentford Musical Museum from Jan to March 2014.

Curator Michele Whitby ran a pop-up Eel Pie Island Museum in Twickenham Library for 5 months in 2015, followed by opening a permanent museum site at 1 – 3 Richmond Road TW1 3AB in February 2018

In 2022, a new book and celebration led by The Ealing Club CIC paid tribute to the 60th anniversary of Electric Blues in West London. See more at

A site devoted to Cyril Davies, for many people a key figure in the development of R&B in the UK, can be reached here 


Aurora Metro Books