Gone hopping in Kent

Hop picking in Kent, 1875.
Hop­ping in Kent, 1875, from the British Library, via Wikipedia.

From East Lon­don (1901) by Wal­ter Besant:

They ran through Wap­ping and along Thames Street, which is emp­ty on Sat­ur­day after­noon; they ran across Lon­don Bridge, they poured into Lon­don Bridge Sta­tion. One of the girls knew the name of the sta­tion they want­ed; it was in Kent. They took tick­ets, and they went off.

They had gone hop­ping.

Thou­sands of Lon­don­ers in the sea­son go hop­ping. I  wish I could dwell upon the delights of the work. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, like the sum­mer, it is too soon over. While it lasts the hop­pers sleep in barns, they work in the open, they breathe fresh air, they get good pay, they enjoy every evening a singsong and a free-and easy. The beer flows like a rivulet; every­body is thirsty, every­body is cheer­ful, every­body is friend­ly.

When it was over Liz returned, browned and refreshed and strength­ened, but fear­ful of the con­se­quences, because she had desert­ed her work. But she was for­tu­nate. They took her back into the fac­to­ry and so she went on as before.

3 thoughts on “Gone hopping in Kent”

  1. Sid – think this author is try­ing to empha­sise how shite was for fac­to­ry work­ers in East Lon­don so is pos­si­bly putting a more pos­i­tive spin on what was just (I guess) yet more back­break­ing work, but with a view.

  2. My Hack­neyite father-in-law used to go hop­ping with his aun­ties. It must have been going on as late as the ear­ly 60s.

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