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The ‘cursed’ island on the Thames where several owners went bankrupt

Grant Braban bought his current houseboat in 2019

Grant Braban purchased his present houseboat in 2019 after the earlier one was destroyed in a fireplace (Picture: Dave Bradshaw / SurreyLive)

Tagg’s Island, a protracted mass of land in the course of the waterway close to Hampton Courtroom Palace, is a thriving neighborhood of houseboats in a really charming setting – however a number of the residents nonetheless debate whether or not the place is topic to an outdated curse. As soon as a part of the Crown Property, the island was reportedly purchased in round 1850 by a property speculator named Francis Jackson Kent who wished to develop the land and evicted a number of squatters from it. In accordance with legend, a type of evicted was a Gypsy who positioned a curse on the island such that those that owned the land can be doomed to go bankrupt.

In accordance with SurreyLive, the primary alleged sufferer got here in 1852: a neighborhood businessman named Joseph Harvey constructed a beer home and skittle alley on the island, considering he may make a revenue as a result of the world was standard with fishermen. Nevertheless, the enterprise failed inside a decade. 

Subsequent got here Thomas George Tagg, a boat-builder who turned a part of the island right into a pleasure resort within the latter a part of the nineteenth century.

Tagg, from whom the island takes its trendy title, made the island well-known because of this resort, the place the houseboats have been lit up at evening with fairy lights and apparently made for a wide ranging sight. Nevertheless, quickly after Tagg’s son George took over upon his dying in 1897, the enterprise was beset by a sequence of unlucky occurrences together with floods, the onset of the Boer Battle, and the dying of Queen Victoria – all of this stuff helped to trigger a downturn in enterprise, and he too ran out of cash.

Subsequent got here theatre producer Fred Karno, who is maybe most well-known for locating a younger Charlie Chaplin. Karno opened yet one more lodge on the island – this time a luxurious getaway referred to as the Karsino with a glamorous ballroom and croquet amenities.

Chaplin apparently carried out on the venue earlier than going off to make his title in America, and Peter Pan writer JM Barrie additionally stayed on the island at round this time, however the lodge itself had solely been open for a couple of 12 months when World Battle One broke out. It too went out of enterprise.

Afternoon tea at the Karsino resort in June 1913

Afternoon tea on the Karsino resort in June 1913 (Picture: Topical Press Company/Getty Pictures)

For the subsequent a number of a long time the island fell into disrepair and had plenty of homeowners. The present majority proprietor is Grant Braban, 48, whose household has the freehold for all however six of the 62 moorings on the island. Grant informed SurreyLive that his mother and father first moved to the island in 1969 when his dad was bankrupt, they usually rented a houseboat for round £6 per 30 days. Initially solely planning to remain for six months, they fell in love with the place and the household has been current ever since.

Grant’s mother and father have been in a position to get a houseboat valued at £20,000 for simply £6,000 due to an proprietor who was desirous to promote. In accordance with Grant, the boat his mother and father purchased had a cool inside that had been used for a photograph shoot in Penthouse journal. From that quirky dwelling they finally purchased nearly all the island in 1980 when Grant was a baby, added the footbridge that gives entry to the island in 1981, and dug out the charming lagoon in the course of the island in 1982 the place a number of houseboats at the moment are moored.

Having spent his childhood on the island, Grant moved to Australia after college and spent 13 years there working as a helicopter pilot. A visit again to go to his mum in 2011 made him keep in mind how charming he finds life in England, and he has been again ever since. He says that since his childhood the island has turn out to be a dearer and extra modern place to stay, nevertheless it nonetheless attracts a various group of inhabitants. A gaggle of resident musicians even held their very own music pageant – ‘Taggstock’ – about 4 years in the past.

Grant stated: “It simply languished for a bit as an unnoticed little island, till about 20 years in the past at across the time when Kevin McCloud was doing [the TV show] Grand Designs. Instantly folks needed to stay in a nuclear bunker or up a chimney someplace or down a coal mine, so the island was the right factor as a result of houseboats did not appear so excessive.

The remains of Grant Braban's old houseboat following the 2019 fire

The stays of Grant Braban’s outdated houseboat following the 2019 fireplace (Picture: London Hearth Brigade)

“The detachment is what I really like concerning the place – we’re near London, Kingston and Hampton however folks simply drive previous and nobody sees us. The river is form of like a 3rd dimension as a result of water stops most individuals, however when you have a ship you may entry all of the pubs and retailers with out coping with the site visitors. There’s additionally an awesome sense of neighborhood – there most likely is not a road in London the place you realize your 30 nearest neighbours on all sides, however you do right here.”

Different longtime residents appear to agree. Jane Harte-Lovelace, who first moved to the island 38 years in the past, stated: “After I first drove over the bridge I knew I had arrived dwelling. The island has great power. It is a very eclectic group of individuals, our youngest resident is 2, and our oldest is 88.”

Certainly, each Grant and Jane have needed to depend on the neighborhood spirit after dropping their properties in unconnected disasters in 2019. In Jane’s case, the rusted hull of her dwelling gave approach in November that 12 months and she or he misplaced nearly all of her possessions, however because of the generosity of her neighbours she was given refuge on a close-by boat for 14 months whereas she bought again on her ft. That incident happened simply three months after Grant’s personal boat had burned down in August.

“I believe it was a lithium ion battery in one thing I used to be charging that caught fireplace,” he stated. “I had gone for a barbecue seven boats down in simply my shorts, T-shirt and flip-flops. Then my girlfriend referred to as me and stated there was one thing happening with the boat, she may hear a popping noise. It was a wood construction and it utterly burned, so I misplaced every part and I used to be badly under-insured.”

Fortunately for Grant, his mom’s property, which was adjoining to his, was principally undamaged so he was in a position to stay there whereas he discovered a brand new boat for himself. Within the meantime, he too relied on the goodwill of his fellow islanders. Regardless of his misfortune he says he would not suppose the supposed curse was accountable.

“I heard somebody had the curse lifted in some unspecified time in the future,” he stated. “However anyway, the 2 earlier homeowners earlier than my household each retired fortunately, so I do not actually imagine there is a curse anyway.”


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