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Hop Picking

The Hawkhurst branch railway line linked Paddock Wood, Horsmonden, Goudhurst, Cranbrook and Hawkhurst. Nicknamed the Hop Pickers Line, it was used for decades by many of the seasonal workers from the East End of London to travel to farms in the area to help with the harvesting of Hops for beer making and it served the growing number of hop fields and orchards of the area. Seasonal workers often consisted whole families, who considered their 3-week employment as farm labourers a working holiday. Up to 250,000 people every year came to work in Kent for the harvesting of these crops.

The Hop Pickers line was closed in 1961. Areas of railway embankments and a number of railway structures are still visible in the landscape and parts of the former line’s route are accessible by public footpath.

The temporary migration of workers up to the mid 20th century and associated with the Hop Pickers Line has been well documented, particularly through film and photography. More detailed information is available by visiting the Museum of Kent Life, or via their website:
Pathe news reel Hop Pickers off To Kent (1950)

Hop Pickers Film
Hopping down in Kent link
British Hop Association Logo
Hop Pickers on Hop Picking Stilts - Hop Pickers Line
Hop Pickers at Yalding - Hop Pickers Line
Loading Hop Pockets at Pattenden Sidings - Goudhurst
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