Old Days In The Kent Hop Gardens by Mary Lewis

Old Days In The Kent Hop Gardens by Mary Lewis hits the £1 shelf in my shop.

West Kent Federation of Women’s Institutes, 1981, Paperback (Stapled Wrappers).

Illustrated by way of: Black & White Photographs;

From the introduction: EACH year more and more hop gardens in Kent are turning over to machine picking, and soon there will be few, if any, left where hops are still picked by hand. With this transition a whole slice of Kentish life is disappearing and with it many old customs and traditions. The machine age has, inevitably, reached into the heart of our County, and soon the cry “Pull no more bines” will ring out for the last time. No longer shall we see the busy family parties round the bins or the train-loads of Londoners arriving for a health-giving holiday with pay.

It was tor this reason that in 1961 the West Kent Federation of Womens Institutes, which has always the cause of local history very much at heart, chose as the subject for an essay competition in its West Kent News Old Days in the Hop Gardens. The response was all that we hoped for and the Local History Committee of the Kent Council of Social Service, which acted as judges in the competition, urged us to put the information we had gathered on permanent record. And so the idea of this little booklet was born.

The hop-pickers memories are based almost entirely on the essays submitted by our own members, many of whom are old ladies of over 70 and 80 years. Through their eyes we look back to hop picking at the end of the last century, and we have tried as far as possible to give the picture in their own words. It did seem, however, that while we were doing it we should try to complete this picture and present some other aspects of these days now past. No account of them would be complete without the story of the medical and social work and the memories of those who gave such willing voluntary service to the pickers in the gardens. We needed (he hop growers point of view, and so we approached one whose family has farmed hops in Kent for over 100 years. The old tools and tokens that were used have disappeared except from the museums, and our curator at Maidstone Museum has described these for us. Finally we have included a few excerpts from the writers and poets to whom the hop has been more than just a wicked weed.

We must emphasise that, although we hope our booklet will prove a contribution of some value to the local history of the County, it is not intended to be in any sense a technical book. We cannot guarantee, as all good historians should, the accuracy of these pictures which have thronged into the minds of those who have written for us. We hope our readers will accept our little booklet for what it is a Book of Memories of Old Days in the Kent Hop Gardens.

Good. Wrappers faded at the spine and margins. Text complete, clean and tight.

60 pages. 8¼” x 5¾”.

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