Once a familiar sight around Farnham, Alton and surrounding villages, hop waggons like this one, loaded with surpluses of the bines at Bentley, were to be seen travelling from the hop gardens to the kilns throughout each September.
The date of this photograph from the archive is 1951 and at that time they would undoubtedly have been picked by hand with armies of itinerant families of pickers travelling to the hop grounds for a paid “holiday” from the surrounding cities.
The bines, at this time growing up strings attached to the wire catenary permanently fixed on the tall wooden poles, would have been cut free by a man using a knife on a long pole as can be seen on the right of this photograph.
The flowers would have been plucked by the pickers into baskets and each family’s daily crop was measured by the tally man and on this amount they were paid at the end of the picking.
The waggons, though by then motor driven, still passed through Farnham until the early 1970s when the last grounds close to the town, at the top of the Hart where UCA now stands, were sold for redevelopment.
The aroma of hops as they went through was unmistakeable and still occasionally today there is evidence of that with “wild” hops growing at the kerb side where seeds had fallen from the load as it passed.