HOP-PICKING AROUND 1900

 

In 1900, hop-picking was a useful occupation especially for women who relied on it to earn money to buy the family's winter clothing.

 

A "Hop Picker's Account Book" has been found in the local area and it gives an insight into the work and wages of a worker. The book was published by "Walter Ruck (late W.E.Clarke), 11 High Street, Maidstone". The hop picker who owned this account book was a Mrs Harborough and the date was 1899.

 

REGULATIONS FOR POLE-PULLERS AND PICKERS.

 

POLE-PULLERS - Wages to be ..................... per day, or in proportion thereto for the time he may be employed;

 

  • to be in the hop-garden by six o'clock in the morning;
  • to pull poles to............... pickers;
  • to look after the pickers, and require them to pick their hops well;
  • and to pick up all hops they may have dropped on the ground near the bins;
  • to use the hop-dog, and not to break any poles through carelessness or negligence;
  • to attend to and assist the measurer;
  • to assist in moving the bins;
  • to carry off the pokes and load the same on the wagon whenever required;
  • to assist the other pole-pullers at the last measuring of the day.

For every breach of the above regulations the pole-puller shall forfeit 3d.

 

  • To take care of the bins, cloths, pokes, and hop-dog committed to his charge and to deliver up the same in good order at the end of the picking, or on leaving his place.

In default thereof to pay the cost of replacing what may be missing or unfairly damaged.

If discharged for bad conduct, or for not observing these regulations, to forfeit one day's wages.

 

HOP-PICKERS - All pickers to pick the hops well to their employer's satisfaction, and to be subject to the regulations herein set forth; and after the tally shall have been set, they are to remain until the picking is all finished;

 

  • to pick up all hops dropped near their bins;
  • and to have their hops ready for the measurer so that no delay may arise;
  • to be in the hop-gardens and to remain there at the appointed hours.

For every breach of these regulations to forfeit one basket of hops. The tally to be set during the first week of the picking, if not previously set; but any picker who shall leave before the picking is finished, or who shall be discharged for conduct not in accordance with the foregoing regulations or for other misconduct, shall be paid off at the rate of one shilling for every 12 baskets.

 

GENERAL REGULATIONS - Signal to be given by blowing a horn or otherwise when the picking is to be commenced or left off.

 

  • No hops to be picked during dinner time;
  • no lucifer matches to be used within the distance of five hills from a bin;
  • no smoking allowed near the buildings or premises;
  • no fire or light to be used after nine o'clock in the evening, except on Saturdays, and no smoking allowed after that hour;
  • no spirituous liquors to be sold or bought in the hop-gardens;
  • no abusive, improper, or immoral language to be made use of;
  • and no quarrelling or fighting to take place.

For any breach of these general orders, the person offending shall forfeit one shilling. All forfeits to be taken account of by the measurer at the time, and the amount to be deducted from the sums due to the offenders when paid at the finish of the picking.

 

Take notice, that all persons guilty of taking away poles, fruit, or of any illegal act, will be prosecuted.

 

Mrs Harborough worked six days a week from 28 August to 15 September 1899, she picked 373 measurings and was paid £2:13:3 and a halfpenny.