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The Hawkhurst branch line (affectionately known as "The Hop-pickers Line") which linked Hawkhurst with Cranbrook, Goudhurst, Horsmonden and Paddock Wood, was closed in 1961. The line was subsequently abandoned and the track taken up.
In 2008, The Hawkhurst Community Partnership engaged with representatives of the Parish and Town Councils of the localities along the route of the line, and approached Kent County Council to see if there was any scope for re-using the length of the line for recreational use.
The image above gives an artist's impression of how the trail could look
Hop-Pickers Heritage Line 50th Anniversary Walks - Week-end of 11th and 12th June, 2011
Exactly 50 years since the last train ran on the “Hop Pickers Line” between Hawkhurst and Paddock Wood, groups of walkers enjoyed accompanied walks along a short section of the line from Hawkhurst (Gills Green) over the 11th-12th June week-end.
Organised by KCC’s Countryside Access Service, the walks also demonstrated the possible extent of the considerable work needed to bring back the line into recreational use for walkers and cyclists - a project keenly supported by Hawkhurst, Cranbrook, Goudhurst and Paddock Wood local Councils.
Said Yolanda Laybourne, Co-ordinator for The Hawkhurst Community Partnership, which originally instigated the project, “These walks were fascinating for those who took part. They also gave us a valuable insight into the general level of support for the project by our area residents. The interest shown is going to be very helpful for us in taking the project forward and in our approach to possible funders for what could become a very important amenity for the area”.
Work is now progressing with KCC on a bid for funding to the Heritage Lottery Fund to support the project.
HawkContact: Yolanda Laybourne, Co-ordinator