East & West Molesey

A Dictionary of Local History

Rowland G. M. Baker, 1972

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A number of islands in the Thames are within the parishes of East and West Molesey. Many were originally used for growing osiers for basket making, the "Willow'd Aytes" referred to in Palmer's poem quoted in the prologue to this book.

Pegg's Ait - Also called Pecker's Ait. Shown on old maps as being where the end of Cherry Orchard Road now is. It was bought by the Corporation of London in 1855. The main channel was dredged and that between the island and the Molesey bank filled in to make it part of the mainland. The land so gained was leased to Mr. Edmonds of Church Farm. In 1865 the ponds on the island were let to the Angling Preservation Society for breeding and rearing fish.

Platt's Ait - The western part of this island was raised considerably by receiving the ballast excavated from digging the reservoirs. This is one of the places where Rennie in 1809 proposed to build a lock and weir. In 1889 the lower part was acquired by a firm called Immish and Co., who ran a fleet of electric launches. They built a generating station on the island to charge the batteries which powered their boats. This part was later used by Thorneycrofts, the boatbuilders, and their famous motor torpedo boats were built here during the First World War. The Water Board has an intake on the island. It also pumps water from the gravel beneath it which is thereby already partly filtered.

Garrick's Island - Opposite to Garrick's Villa. Once called Shank's Island. Now covered with summer bungalows.

Ash Island - In 1844 it is called Ashen Ait, previously Harvey's Island. In 1866 it became the headquarters of Molesey Boat Club.

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