Hop Picking

I'm eight years old and it's a Saturday morning in 1956, I look out of the window and it's raining, my heart sinks because I wanted to go to the fields with my old bike that had lost its tyres some time before.

It will be a bit of a bumpy ride over the ploughed field but it was lots of fun, it was less fun in the rain through.

So it looks like it could be Saturday morning pictures if I can get the money to buy the ticket. I know the gas man won't be calling to empty the meter as it's Saturday so I plead with my mum or dad but usually money was so scarce in our household that the pleading fell on deaf ears.

What to do as my first two options were not going to happen? Just up the road from my house was a large outdoor swimming pool and I knew a way to bunk in through a hedge and fencing which the local kids had made, in our street most families had no spare money.

I did not mind swimming in the rain and I spent many hours in the pool in most weather's.

Growing up in the fifties and sixties in a poor area where money was tight and pocket money non existent I began my working life at about 12 years old helping the milkman and doing paper rounds in the evening. I also used to go hop picking in late summer, the farmer used to send his lorry up our street and the whole family piled on the back with other families eager to make a few bob.

We would take a little stove to boil a kettle on to make tea and pack some sandwiches for lunch. In those days the farmer would cut the hop vine down for us to strip and put into baskets, I think they were either weighed or we were paid for each full basket, I can't remember which. It was exciting for the kids as there was a lot of clowning about and antics which helped as the work was tedious. Hop picking is now done with machinery so I'm not sure if hop pickers are needed anymore.

Alan Pepin, Born 1948
February 2022
Source: Facebook Group "The Good Old British Childhood Years"


Spring 2022

"Spring 2022"