Benn's Island, previously named Church Eyot, Kember’s Eyot and sometimes referred to as Benn's Ait,[n 1] is a private 0.1-acre (0.040 ha) ait (island) on the River Thames south-west of London. It is among a string of narrow islands above Molesey Lock and due to its clubhouse and size — the second-smallest named island on the Thames — it has deep foundation pilings to raise the building more than 1 m above the water line.
Location and access
Benn's Island, the second-smallest public map-named island on the Thames, is close to the left bank of the River Thames at Hampton, in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames in England, on the reach above Molesey Lock, the second non-tidal reach of the river. The water between the island and the near bank is shallow and navigable with care to small vessels.
The clubhouse is linked to Benn's Alley, a narrow slipway on the northern bank by a manually operated pedestrian chain ferry at the downstream end. Hampton Ferry connecting to Molesey operates to the east of the island using a separate set of steps or slipway and directly facing to St Mary's Church.
In the 19th century the island was used by the then Thames Valley Sailing Club, transforming to the Middle Thames Yacht and motorboat club on Sunbury Lock Ait, whose then headquarters were a houseboat moored at Benn's Island and which was destroyed by fire in 1900. Since 1945 it has been leased by Hampton Sailing Club which also conducts some paddleboarding and shares the reach with two school watersports clubs and Molesey Boat Club. In 1962 the clubhouse was built on the piles at Benn’s Island. Extensive building works and piling make on casual observance the island seem wholly artificial, disguising its natural small core with substantial extensions.
Notes and references
- It was called Church Eyot, then Kember’s Eyot around 1700, then became generally named after the family that owned Benn’s Boatyard on the left bank, which was demolished in 1947.
- "Benn's Ait". Archived from the original on 14 May 2008. Retrieved 10 December 2009.
- Map created by Ordnance Survey, courtesy of English Heritage Archived 24 April 2012 at the Wayback Machine
- Jackson, W F. "Boat Sailing on the Upper Thames" (pdf). Retrieved 10 December 2008.
Next comes " The Thames Valley Sailing. Club," at Hampton-on-Thames, with a course, ten rounds of which make up four miles, from a buoy opposite the little Club Island
- "Hampton Sailing Club". Archived from the original on 5 November 2008. Retrieved 9 December 2008.