The Hop Pickers Line
The Hop Pickers Line
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Duration: 1-2 hours
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Geoff H
Cranbrook, UK12,195 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Jan 2020
During the boom period of railway building in the 1800s, the villages of Hawkhurst, Cranbrook, Goudhurst and Horsmonden in the High Weald of Kent had been left unconnected but, in the 1890s, a short railway line, known as the Hawkhurst branch line, was constructed which connected these villages with Paddock Wood. The rail traffic was always light on this branch line but, during the early 1950s, there was a massive demand for services on the line between late August and early October when people travelled down from the East End of London to pick the hops in Knt. Up to six trains a day ran from London and the branch line became known as the 'Hop Pickers Line'. However, as hop picking became mechanised the line's usage fell and it was closed in 1961. The track was lifted in 1964 and the station sites were offered for sale. Hawkhurst's main station was demolished, Cranbrook's stationmaster's house is now a private dwelling, Goudhurst station, yard and level crossing have disappeared as a result of residential develop[ment and road widening and Horsmonden station is now a private gagrage. In the early 2000s, a 'Hop Pickers Line Heritage Group' was formed and in July 2017 the first information board for the 'Hop Pickers Line' was opened at Paddock Wood station. There is a second board located on the village green at Goudhurst. These boards give an overview of each of the villages on the line, together with their railway heritage and how they evoved into the communities they are today. The boards also include a map showing where the line is srtill accessible or visible. Particularly, from Cranbrook to Hawkhurst the former track route is an excellent path worthy of walking so that the High Weald of Kent can be enjoyed in all its beauty.
Written 4 February 2020
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THE HOP PICKERS LINE: All You Need to Know BEFORE You Go (with Photos)

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