Who we are and what we do
In 2008, with support from Kent County Council, the Hop Pickers Line Heritage Group was set up to include representatives from the Parish Councils of Paddock Wood, Horsmonden, Goudhurst, Cranbrook and Hawkhurst. The aim was to re-open the route for walking and cycling. This would provide safe cycling and walking routes between the five villages, linking them to the local secondary schools in Cranbrook and Paddock Wood, and to places of interest along the route.
In 2014 estimates were obtained of the project cost, but the funding was not available. As a result, the Group, in partnership with Tunbridge Wells Borough Council, changed its focus to raising the profile of the route of the old line and obtaining planning protection. The Group commissioned an archaeological report of the line from AOC Archaeology Group in January, 2016, which would help to conserve the line’s unique heritage for future generations. The report is available on the TWBC web pages under ‘conservation-and-heritage’.
The Group then undertook a way-marking interpretation scheme, featuring finger posts, marker posts and information panels for use in certain locations where the route of the line is still accessible or visible. This initiative was launched in November, 2016 in conjunction with the developers of the solar farm at Paddock Wood, and the first information panels were sited at Paddock Wood Station with Southeastern Railway in July, 2017, with further interpretation features following at points along the line.
Paddock Wood Station
Information panel at Paddock Wood Station
Hop Pickers at work