THERE are many idyllic places from which to enjoy the beauties of the Thames but one of the best kept secrets around seems to be Truss’s Island – a tiny ait on the Surrey bank of the river quite close to Staines Bridge.
And that’s something of a shame because at the tail end of 2008 Runnymede Council, aided by a £44,500 grant from an environment fund, completely refurbished the island and its surroundings making it more accessible and improving the facilities there.
The island is named after Charles Truss who was appointed clerk of the works to the Worshipful Committee of Thames Navigation of the City of London in 1774. Truss was given responsibility for improving the navigability of the river, particularly in respect of the locks and towpaths, a task he undertook with enthusiasm for more than 36 years until he retired in 1810 at the ripe old age of 82. As a mark of thanks, the City erected a stone on the island commemorating Truss’s achievements.
Although the island is small – around 100 metres long overall – it is a haven for a wide variety of birds including Mute Swans, Canada Geese, Grebes, Mallards, Coots, Moorhens, Ruddy Shelducks and more.
The recent makeover was carried out thanks to the grant from Biffaward, a multi-million environment fund managed by the Royal Society of Wildlife Trusts which uses landfill tax credits donated by Biffa Waste Services. Runnymede Council itself contributed a further £4,458.
Jetty boards and both the bridges providing access to the island have all been replaced and disabled fishing platforms repaired. Benches and picnic tables have also been renovated along with a charming play area with wooden animals for youngsters below the shade of the trees.
Of particular interest to owners of small boats is the public slipway and trailer park right next to the island – one of the few such facilities on this side of the river in our area. The slipway is designed only for small boats and access to the launching site has a seven-foot height restriction – so don’t think you can launch large cabin cruisers there!
I wrote earlier that Truss’s Island seemed to be a well-kept secret and that’s because every time I’ve driven passed it, the car park seems empty and there are few people in sight. Perhaps I’ve just been passing at the wrong times. But just in case you haven’t discovered the spot, pack a picnic and some bread for the birds and take the kids for a visit. You won’t be disappointed.
Truss’s Island can be found halfway along Chertsey Lane between Staines Bridge and the Thorpe Park roundabout. Parking is free.