At The Hop

In my online meandering, I came across this great photograph of hop pickers in Kent, sometime in the early 1900’s. All those kids in the great outdoors, grass in their hair, dirty faces, dirty hands. Just like when I was a kid. Except I didn’t know I was born, as the saying goes.


You know how much I love old photographs? I went looking for more.

I reckon the two adults on the left of this photograph are sisters. What do you think? Maybe all three? Look at the little Shirley Temple in the centre.


When the time was right, farmers down in the South of England would advertise for people to head over and stay for six weeks, picking hops. Invariably those responding would be women and children who didn’t have other jobs to do. They would respond, swapping the polluted air of the cities for the clean, fresh air of the rural land. A working holiday, if you like. The two girls at the very front are speaking conspiratorially about the photographer. Listen hard, you may hear them.


I like the way the girl third from the left is looking at the girl to her side, laughing eyes, secretive thoughts. I reckon the other girl has had a ticking off from her Mum here, looking down sulkily. That’s the thing: we will never know. We can make up anything we want. At the other end of the shot: nice wellies.


I had problems making this photograph larger, but I still want to include it. The ancestors insisted: us too. I’m sure you can make it bigger on your tablets with a bit of index finger-thumb stretching magic.


How confident (and truculent) does the lad in the centre look? I’ve seen a similar photograph of a young John Lennon with that very same expression. And how feisty does that terrier look? Put him down and you just know he’s gonna scamper right after the photographer.


I know they are working, but most of the people in these shots look a lot happier (and healthier) than the folk we see in contemporary portraits, working in the mills and factories. Perhaps it is just the outdoor setting causing me to read this into them. Always the subjective optimist.

These fading photographs of Southern England have got me all of a sudden sensing the approaching summer.Can you smell the meadow flowers? Taste that scrumpy cider?



If any of you are wondering why I love old photographs so much, see the highlighted post below: A Sense Of Absence.


15 thoughts on “At The Hop

  1. Pingback: At The Hop – musnadjia423wordpress

    • Thanks Michael. Yes, the seasons are getting harder to predict and pin down. There is something pleasing in that as well as worrying.
      The link I spoke of to an earlier post about why I love old photographs was missing, I have added it now to the end of this post.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. My fav is the lady holding the dog… “guys, guys, get finished, I’m not sure how much longer I can hold him…”
    I’d be willing to bet, she’s the one holding that group (is it a family?) together, and doing everything by herself; those kiddos don’t look good for much else but posing (the girl’s a diva) truculently (John Lennon photo, good call) as you stated! And the man of the group? Geez…a bow tie in the middle of the woods?

    These would make great writing prompts…as you well know already, I’m sure!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Of course 🙂
      I realised after posting that the link which I mentioned, to an earlier post A Sense Of Absence, was missing. Gremlins! Anyhow, I’ve included it now at the end of this post. Explains my love of old photographs.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Love old photos too. They always tells stories and it’s different stories for every time I see them again and again. You can almost hear the sounds around them in these photos. Lovely


  4. I like an antique shop who has a long table piled full of discarded photographs in sepia and cream and black and white. These are from your own family (?) And this makes them even more fascinating. . .

    Liked by 1 person

      • I rummage around antique photos and think they do hold fascinating stories, Andy. Family photos became part of my early days of love stories I wrote out. Grandparents, Great grandparents, parents, aunt and uncle. . . Kind of led me to my byline, “Relationships reveal our hearts.” Thank you, Andy! 😊✨


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