Cockney pensioners plan to turn clock back 70 years hop-picking

PENSIONERS plan to turn their Cockney clocks back 70 years and go hop picking like they did during the Depression when they were kids. They’re hiring a coach to whisk them away from London’s East End down to Kent, like the old charabancs that rattled through the streets of 1930s London. The idea was being talked about by members of the new Globe Town pensioners’ weekly luncheon club at their Thursday bash of steak and two veg’ and a pint of stout at Stepney’s Heyfield pub in the Mile End-road

Mike Brooke

PENSIONERS plan to turn their Cockney clocks back 70 years and go hop picking like they did during the Depression when they were kids.

They're hiring a coach to whisk them away from London's East End for the day down to Kent, like the old charabancs that rattled through the streets of 1930s London.

The hop-picking idea was being talked about by members of the new Globe Town pensioners' weekly luncheon club at their Thursday bash of 'steak and two veg' and a pint of stout at Stepney's Hayfield pub in the Mile End Road.

Some remember loading up their belongings and climbing onto the backs of lorries for the summer holiday in the hop-picking countryside if they couldn't afford the charabanc fare, like 79-year-old Joan Northeast from Bethnal Green's Cranbrook housing estate.


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"My dad loaded up all our furniture and we climbed on board to go down to a farm near Maidstone," she recalled.

"We slept in hunts with straw sacking for beds and did all our cooking in the open field. The day began at 6am and even us kids joined in pulling the hops.

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"It was the only holiday we could afford, but it was an adventure."

Sylvia Sadler, 74, brought out a crumpled photograph of her family on a hop-picking holiday in 1933, pointing to the baby on the right. That was her aged three, in her mum Lizzie's arms.

Great granddad Andy Davies is on the left, granny Daisy Price in the middle.

Sylvia doesn't live in the East End any more. She actually moved down to Kent with husband Albert Sadler, now 78, after he retired as a Tower Hamlets market inspector 20 years ago.

But the couple trot back regularly to be with friends and old neighbours at the weekly luncheon club, which has attracted 90 members by word of mouth from all over East London.

The club is run by Sylvia's daughter Eileen and her neighbours Carole Abbot and Rita Mayho.

The three are trying to raise enough dosh to run a daily pensioners' club at Globe Town community centre. So far they've had estimates for carpets and a lick of paint, just as a start.

Meanwhile, they're getting on with arranging two outings in September for the old folk, a day at Hayling Island on the south coast and, of course, hop-picking in Kent.

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