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Hopping Photography

August 11, 2017
by the gentle author

This selection of favourite Hop Pickers’ photographs is from the archive of Tower Hamlets Community Housing. Traditionally, this was the time when East Enders headed down to the Hop Farms, embracing the opportunity of a breath of country air and earning a few bob too.

Bill Brownlow, Margie Brownlow, Terry Brownlow & Kate Milchard, with Keith Brownlow & Kevin Locke in front, at Guinness’ Northland’s Farm at Bodiam, Sussex, in 1958. Guinness bought land at Bodiam in 1905 and eight hundred acres were devoted to hop growing at its peak.

Julie Mason, Ted Hart, Edward Hart & friends at Hoathleys Farm, Hook Green, near Lamberhurst, Kent

Lou Osbourn, Derek Protheroe & Kate Day at Goudhurst Farm

Margie Brownlow & Charlie Brownlow with Keith Brownlow, Kate Milchard & Terry Brownlow in front at Guinness’ Northland’s Farm at Bodiam, Sussex, in 1950

Mr & Mrs Gallagher with Kitty Adams & Jackie Gallagher from Westport St, Stepney, in the hop gardens at Pembles Farm, Five Oak Green, Kent in 1959

Jackie Harrop, Joan Day & George Rogers at Whitbread’s Farm, Beltring, Kent in 1949

Mag Day (on the left at the back) in the hop gardens with others at Highwood’s Farm, Collier St, in 1938

Pop Harrop at Whitbread’s Farm, Beltring, Kent in 1949

Sarah Watt, Mrs Hopkins, Steven Allen, Ann Allen, Tom, Albert Allen & Sally Watt in the hop gardens at Jack Thompsett’s Den Farm, Collier St, Kent in 1943

Harry Watt, Tom Shuffle, Mary Shuffle, Sally Watt, Julie Callagher, Ada Watt & Sarah Watt in the hop gardens at Jack Thompsett’s Den Farm, Collier St, Kent in the fifties

Harry Watt, Sally Watt, Sarah Watt holding Terry Ellames in the hop gardens at Jack Thompsett’s Den Farm, Collier St, Kent in 1957

Harry Ayres, a pole puller, in the hop gardens at Diamond Place Farm, Nettlestead, Kent

Emmie Rist, Theresa Webber, Kit Webber & Eileen Ayres  in the hop gardens at Diamond Place Farm, Nettlestead, Kent

Kit Webber with her Aunt Mary, her Dad Sam Webber and her Mum, Emmie Ris,t in the hop gardens at Diamond Place Farm, Nettlestead, Kent

Harry Ayres with his wife Kit Webber in the hop gardens at Diamond Place Farm, Nettlestead, Kent.

Richard Pyburn, Mag Day, Patty Seach and Kitty Gray from Kirks Place, Limehouse, in the hop gardens at Highwoods Farm, Collier St, Kent

The Gorst and Webber families at Jack Thompsett’s Farm, Fowle Hall, Kent in the forties

Kitty Waters with sons Terry & John outside the huts at Pembles Farm, Five Oak Green, Kent in 1952

Mr & Mrs Gallagher from Westport St, Stepney, with their grandchildren in the hop gardens at Pembles Farm, Five Oak Green, Kent in 1958

Sybil Ogden, Doris Cossey, Danny Tyrrell & Sally Hawes near Yalding, Kent

John Doree, Alice Thomas, Celia Doree & Mavis Doree in the hop gardens near Cranbrook, Kent

Bill Thomas & his wife Annie, in the hop gardens near Cranbrook, Kent

The Castleman Family from Poplar hop picking in the twenties

Terry & Margie Brownlow at Guinness’ Northland’s Farm at Bodiam in Sussex in 1949

Alfie Raines, Johnny Raines, Charlie Cushway, Les Benjamin & Tommy Webber in the Hop Gardens at Jack Thompsett’s Farm at Fowl Hall near Paddock Wood in Kent

Lal Outram, Wag Outram & Mary Day on the common at Jack Thompsett’s Farm at Fowl Hall near Paddock Wood in Kent in 1955

Taken in September 1958 at Moat Farm, Five Oak Green, Kent. Sitting on the bin is Miss Whitby with Patrick Mahoney, young John Mahoney and Sheila Tarling (now Mahoney) – Sheila & Patrick were picking to save up for their engagement party in October

Maryann Lowry’s Nan, Maggie ,on the left  with her Great-Grandmother, Maryann, in the check shirt in the hop gardens, c.1910

Having a rest in hop gardens at Whitbread’s Farm, Beltring, Kent in 1966. In the back row are Mary Brownlow, Sean Locke, Linda Locke, Kate Milchard, Chris Locke & Margie Brownlow with Kevin Locke and Terry Locke in front.

Margie Brownlow & her Mum Kate Milchard at Whitbreads Farm in Beltring, Kent in 1967. These huts were two stories high. The children playing outside are – Timmy Kaylor, Chrissy Locke, Terry Locke, Sean Locke, Linda Locke & Kevin Locke.

Chris Locke, Sally Brownlow, Linda Brownlow, Kate Milchard, Margie Brownlow, Terry Locke & Mary Brownlow at Whitbread’s Farm, Beltring, Kent in 1962

Johnno Mahoney, Superintendant of the Caretakers on the Bancroft Estate in Stepney, driving the “Mahoney Special” at Five Oak Green in 1947

The Clarkson family in the hop gardens in Staplehurst.  Gladys Clarkson , Edith Clarkson, William Clarkson, Rose Clarkson & Henry Norris.

John Moore, Ross, Janet Ambler, Maureen Irish & Dennis Mortimer in 1950 at Luck’s Farm, East Peckham, Kent

Kate Fairclough, Mrs Callaghan, Mary Fairclough & Iris Fairclough at Moat Farm, Five Oak Green, Kent in 1972

A gang of Hoppers from Wapping outside the brick huts at Stilstead Farm, Tonbridge, Kent with Jim Tuck & John James in the back. In the middle row the first person on the left is unknown, but the others are Rose Tuck, holding Terry Tuck, Rose Tuck, Danny Tuck & Nell Jenkins. In the front are Alan Jenkins, Brian Tuck, Pat Tuck, Jean Tuck, Terry Taylor & Brian Taylor.

Nanny Barnes, Harriet Hefflin, “Minie” Mahoney & Patsy Mahoney at Ploggs Hall Farm

In the Hop Gardens at Jack Thompsett’s Farm at Fowl Hall, near Paddock Wood in Kent in the late forties. Alfie Raines, Edie Cooper, Margie Gorst & Lizzie Raines

The Day family from Kirks Place, Limehouse, at Highwoods Farm in Collier St, Kent in the fifties

Annie Smith, Bill Daniels, Pearl Brown & Nell Daniels waiting for the measurer in the Hop Garden at Hoathley’s Farm, Hook Green, Kent

On the common outside the huts at at Hoathley’s Farm, Hook Green, Kent – you can see the oasthouses in the distance. Rita Daniels, Colleen Brown, Maureen Brown, Marie Brown, Billy Daniels, Gerald Brown & Teddy Hart , with Sylvie Mason & Pearlie Brown standing.

The Outram family from Arbour Sq outside their huts at Hubbles Farm, Hunton, Kent. Unusually these were detached huts but, like all the others, they made of corrugated tin and all had one small window – simply basic rooms, roughly eleven feet square

Janis Randall being held by her mother Joyce Lee andalongside her is her father, Alfred Lee in a hop garden, near Faversham in September 1950

David & Vivian Lee sitting on a log on the common outside Nissen huts used to house hop pickers

Gerald Brown, Billy Daniels & Dennis Woodham in the hop gardens at Gatehouse Farm near Brenchley, Kent, in the fifties

Nelly Jones from St Paul’s Way with Eileen Mahoney, and in the background is Eileen’s mum, “Minie” Mahoney. Taken in the fifties in the Hop Gardens at Ploggs Hall Farm, between Paddock Wood and Five Oak Green.

At Jack Thompsett’s Farm at Fowl Hall, near Paddock Wood in Kent

Ploggs Hall Farm Ladies Football Team. Back Row – Fred Archer, Lil Callaghan, Harriet Jones, Unknown, Unknown, Nanny Barnes, Liz Weeks, Harriet Hefflin, Johnno Mahoney.  Front Row – Doris Hurst Eileen Mahoney & Nellie Jones

John Moore, Ross, Janet Ambler, Maureen Irish & Dennis Mortimer in 1950 at Luck’s Farm, East Peckham, Kent

The Outram and Pyburn families outside a Kent pub in 1957, showing clockwise Kitty Tyrrell, Mary Pyburn, Charlie Protheroe, Rene Protheroe, Wag Outram, Derek Protheroe in the pram, Annie Lazel, Tom Pyburn, Bill Dignum & Nancy Wright.

Sally Watt’s Hop Picker’s account book from Jack Thompsett’s Den Farm, Collier St, Kent in the fifties

You may also like to take a look at

Hop Picking Portraits

Roy Wild , Hop Picker

9 Responses leave one →
  1. Jim McDermott permalink
    August 11, 2017

    What a wonderful, generational pursuit, something from another age. Is hop-picking mechanized these days, or – at the risk of wandering into our current poisonous briar patch – do those ‘benefit-scrounging’ foreigners do it for us?

  2. Vanda Human permalink
    August 11, 2017

    If some of the people in the photos are still alive it would be so interesting to read their stories about hop picking. Would make for an amazing short story book. Something for the Gentle Author to think about and perhaps interview the persons concerned and write the book. Sure it will be successful.

  3. Paddy Keogh permalink
    August 11, 2017

    Fantastic photos,poignant snapshots of a lost era

  4. August 11, 2017

    GA absolutely wonderful the perfect dream ticket blog. It was a nice working holiday for East Enders. First they would load up their Hopping Box with utensil’s etc. items needed for an extended shortish stay. It was sent ahead two weeks before on the train. Yes the whole family would go into the hop fields the children would pick as well all were on piece – work. It wasn’t all work., they formed migrant social groups with big sing alongs. So the short season ended also their life in the hop fields, with the introduction of mechanization. In the end its all about !beer. So I raise my glass to the East Enders they were at their best when field working down in Kent. Snatch of their song ‘When I’m a hopping down in Kent’ – bye field people. Poet John.

  5. Jamie Surman permalink
    August 11, 2017

    What wonderful photographs – an incredible document of social history. Makes me very sad that this culture has been lost from the East End and the communities with them…

  6. August 11, 2017

    I would happily go back in time and spend a few weeks hopping. They look so happy and healthy and well organised together.

  7. John Campbell permalink
    August 11, 2017

    It was common for the farmers to only deal with the matriarch of the groups and the whole picking system was built on the women and children’s labour. Many of the rural pubs local to the fields would arrange makeshift ‘public’ bars for the male pickers to drink in as they were regarded as rough and rowdy by many of the country folk and not generally welcome in the villages. It was not uncommon for the fathers to return to the east end leaving Mother and kids behind for the season to earn what would be the most significant income of the year and for many the money needed to enjoy something special Christmas.

  8. Terry boyle permalink
    August 12, 2017

    Had a wonderful time as a kid going hopping (Bashall park ) near five oak green,my parents,grandparents ,aunts,cousins,love to go again

  9. August 12, 2017

    The hop pickers account book reminds me of the ‘zero hours’ contracts of today. Poignant photographs. It’s brilliant they have been preserved.

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