Between 1892 and 1961, a single-line steam railway, developed by the talented young engineer Holman Fred Stephens, linked the rural communities of Paddock Wood, Horsmonden, Goudhurst, Cranbrook and Hawkhurst.
It also brought thousands of residents from the East End of London to the area every summer for their annual hop-picking “holiday” in this area of Kent, thus earning this iconic little railway the proud nickname of the “Hop Pickers Line”.
Representatives of the five communities, together with local authority partners in the new interpretation scheme for the Hop Pickers Line project, joined with Southeastern Railway managers at Paddock Wood Station on 4th July for the formal opening of the first information panel for the Hop Pickers Line recently installed at the station.
Researched and produced by talented designer Martyn Hey, the panels provide a map showing the 11-mile route of the original line, together with many attractive graphics and useful information about the route, including locations where it may still be visible. The map also gives a brief overview of each of the line’s five destinations, their railway heritage and a short description of how they have subsequently evolved into the attractive communities which may be visited and enjoyed today.
In formally opening the Hop Pickers Line Information Panels and cutting the special celebration cake, Councillor Elizabeth Thomas, Chair of Paddock Wood Town Council, spoke of Paddock Wood’s proud railway heritage, congratulating all those involved in providing a wealth of interesting information and social history within the panels to be appreciated by both residents and visitors to this scenic part of the Garden of England.
Cllr Elizabeth Thomas cuts the cake
For further information please contact
Yolanda Laybourne – Chair
The Hop Pickers Line Heritage Group
(01424) 215 790 / 07972 559 606