Thames island boatyard fire: Huge blaze destroys historic boathouses and vessels at Platt’s Eyot in Hampton

A huge blaze has destroyed two Grade-II listed boatyards and vessels on a Thames island in south-west London.

One of the the historic “little ships” that rescued WW2 soldiers during the evacuation of Dunkirk is said to be among those lost in the fire.

The inferno broke out at Platt’s Eyot in Hampton just after 5pm on Monday, with witnesses claiming to have heard “explosions” coming from the area.

Boaters were trying to get close to the industrial fire to help as firefighters approached the island from the water.

One man was filmed clambering over burning boats in a desperate bid to rescue small ships being restored on the burning island.

Naval historian Dr Phil Weir told the Standard: “This is an incalculable loss of of maritime and naval heritage. The yard was where the RN’s Motor Torpedo Boats were first created in the First World War and I gather at least one of the Dunkirk Little Ships was under restoration there and has been lost.”

The Association of Dunkirk Little Ships claimed that the DLS Lady Gay had “been totally lost” in the fire despite their owners attempt to rescue her.

They claimed that though her name does not appear in any of the lists of Dunkirk ships – there is no doubt that she was there.

Witness Dominique Bouchard told the Standard: “It was very upsetting but people were calm. I was still quite a distance. I ran into the vicar from St Mary’s church in Hampton who came out to see if anyone needed help.

a harbor filled with lots of smoke: The spirit of Dunkirk: A man checks his phone on a boat as the fire goes on behind him@drbouchard© Provided by Evening Standard The spirit of Dunkirk: A man checks his phone on a boat as the fire goes on behind [email protected]

“I heard a few people talking about how devastating this is for the businesses on the Eyott and of course losing unique historic architecture and structures is also very sad.

“I was very worried that people were injured but there didn’t appear to be any injuries.”

The English Heritage chief added: “There were several small boats that were trying to get close. I saw one with a firefighter on it. Lots of people wanted to help but you don’t want to get in the way of the professionals.

“At one stage a gas canister must have exploded. When you see how many motorboats were tied up and on the island, you can see how dangerous it could be for anyone nearby. Each of those boats, I imagine, had diesel or some fuel that could ignite and cause an explosion.”

Crews are currently battling the flames, with the London Fire Brigade confirming that there were “some cylinders” involved in the blaze.

A London Fire Brigade spokesman said: “Firefighters tackled a fire at two single-storey industrial units on the island, which were completely destroyed by the fire. The only access on to the island was via a footbridge, therefore firefighters have carried all of their equipment to the scene by hand.

“A number of gas cylinders were involved in the fire, they were cooled and removed by firefighters as some cylinders can explode when exposed to heat.

“Some of the nearby boats have been moved from the area as a precaution.

“One man has been treated at the scene for smoke inhalation by London Ambulance Service crews.”

A spokesperson for Surrey Fire and Rescue Service advised nearby residents and businesses to close their windows and doors due to the smoke.

They added: “Our Joint Fire Control received 20 calls to Hampton Boat Sheds this evening. We are currently assisting London Fire Brigade at this incident.”


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