The Landscape Guide

River Thames islands

When the London Thames was much wider than today it had many more islands than it does today. Thorney Island, having been used by the Normans the site for the Palace of Westminster (built beside an Anglo-Saxon church which became Westminster Abbey. The site is no longer an island.Though islands are beautiful and good for wildlife, finding space for permanent new islands between Chelsea and Tower Bridge would be difficult. But finding space for small floating islands would be easy. The Thames was always used for tethering ships, barges and lighters and many of the old mooring sites are well-suited to floating islands. Four old lighters have been converted into bird islands and are moored off Wandsworth Park.

Thames Islands upstream from Chelsea

Atkins' report on the Thames Landscape Strategy from Kew to Chelsea includes the following comment on Thames islands:

The vegetated islands in the River: Oliver's Island/Strand on the Green/Chiswick Eyot/ Chiswick Mall also provide a natural contrast with the architectural elevations. Islands in the Thames provide important refuges for both plants and animals. Two islands are located within the study area: Oliver's Island and Chiswick Eyot. Oliver's Island is located adjacent to Strand on the Green, and is owned by the Port of London Authority. The most interesting flora on the island is found on the banks, particularly in the gaps between the sloped, blockstone embankment that surrounds most of the island. The island is a valuable nesting site and refuge for wildfowl and is also used by cormorants. Chiswick Eyot (a statutory Local Nature Reserve) is situated opposite Chiswick Mall on the outside of the large northward loop of the Thames, in the middle of the study reach and is easily accessible at low tide. The island is covered with low growing willow pollards, originally used in the traditional practice of osier bed cultivation, a practice that continued until 1935.