Inhabitants of the island (there’s around 38,000) call themselves “Swampies”.
Recognisable to regular viewers of the Boat Race, Chiswick Eyot is accessible by foot at low tide, almost fully submerged at high tide (tree branches excepted) and like many islands in the Thames was used in the 19th century for the growing of osiers, used by basket and furniture makers. The island was in the headlines in 2010 after a pensioner claimed he had been living a Robinson Crusoe lifestyle on the island for six months, while sleeping in a net to avoid the incoming tide.
Known as Strand Ayt until the English Civil War, this islands current name was inspired by the myth that Oliver Cromwell took refuge there. A secret tunnel supposedly linked the island to the Bulls Head pub in Chiswick.
A tollbooth was set up on the island in 1777, and a smithy was built there in the 1865, surviving until the 1990s. The island’s only inhabitants now are birds, such as herons, Canada geese and cormorants.
The Great London Walk: Telegraph Tours
Now uninhabited, with no buildings, Brentford Ait was once home to the notorious Three Swans pub. Fred S. Thackers The Thames Highway Locks and Weirs, published in 1920, explains: In March 1811 one Robert Hunter of Kew Green described the island to the city as a great Nuisance to this parish and the Neighbourhood on both sides of the River. It contained a House of Entertainment, which has long been a Harbour for Men and women of the worst description, where riotous and indecent Scenes were often exhibited during the Summer Months on Sundays.
It is now covered with willows, planted to obscure the Brentford gasworks.