For generations, hops were grown along the Rother Valley and the Guinness hop farms, centred on Bodiam, were the largest in the country. The K&ESR played an essential role in bringing around 4000 hop pickers to Bodiam each summer. The hop pickers were mainly women, their children and elderly relatives and they would arrive on special trains from London direct to Bodiam station. Hop picking often became an annual holiday for families, who would stay for several weeks enjoying the fresh countryside air.
K&ESR Hop Festival
There's plenty for the whole family to see and do at the Hop Festival this year. Bodiam Station will again be at the centre of a weekend of live entertainment, with Morris Dancing, displays of hops and hop picking equipment, period road and agricultural vehicles and memorabilia. Try your hand at stripping the bines, something that was either very easy or very difficult to do, depending on the weather, whilst there are plenty of traditional fun activities for our younger visitors too!
Former hop pickers can re-live memories of years gone by, whilst visitors can experience the hop picking way of life first hand in the recreated hop garden and hopper's hut where pickers would have stayed, sometimes for as long as six weeks. Live entertainment from 'The Sideboard Men' will add to the nostalgic atmosphere.
Delicious food from local producers will be on offer at the BBQ and the 'Hoppers' kitchen' will be serving their famous homemade cakes. Some fine locally produced ales and wines will be available from the real ale tent.
On Saturday, our friends at the Old Dairy Brewery will be offering half price special tours of their brewery at just £5.00 per person - quote "K&ESR Hop Fest" to qualify when making your booking. We've also an evening Hop Festival Real Ale Train featuring some of the finest local real ales. This service departs from Tenterden at 7.00pm on Saturday 10th September only and advance booking is essential.
The Hop Festival will be open from 10.30am to 6pm each day. Advance tickets offer a 10% saving and include unlimited train travel throughout the day*
Advance Prices: Adults £15.30; Children (3 - 15 years inc.) £10.35 and Family (2 adults + up to 3 children or 1 adult and up to 4 children) £34.20.
On the day Prices: Adults £17.00; Children £11.50; Family £38.00
K&ESR train tickets provide a discount on admission to the National Trust castle
Tenterden (TN30 6HE) and Northiam (TN31 6QT) stations have free parking for Hop Festival visitors.
Sale of discounted advance tickets has now closed, but you can still purchase tickets at the Booking Office
*Evening RAT train excluded
The K&ESR welcomes the MG Car Club
The MG Car Club is one of the oldest motoring Clubs in the UK. Started by John Thornley in 1930, later to become General Manager of MG, the Club soon gained factory backing and ran from the Abingdon MG offices up until the closure of the factory in 1980. The Club moved around the country, eventually settling back down in Abingdon, next to the old MG factory site, in 1992.
The Club caters for all models of MG, and has members throughout the world, many who make the pilgrimage to Abingdon, the spiritual home of MG. In 2001 MG Rover launched three new models of MG. The MG ZR (based on the Rover 25), MG ZS (based on the Rover 45) and the MG ZT (based on the Rover 75). These MGs instantly became a hit with the public, with their bright colours, large alloy wheels and sporting looks. They were offered with a variety of engine options, from the V6 ZS, V8 ZT to the 1.4 and diesel models of ZRs there was a car for everyone’s taste.
The MG Car Club founded a register for these three models in 2002, the MG ZR/ZS/ZT Register. The Register and Club are able to offer technical support, insurance discounts and put on an array of events from Racing, Track Days, social runs to days out at wonderful locations such as The Kent and East Sussex Railway. If you would like more information about the MG Car Club, please visit www.mgcc.co.uk
Advance bookings have now closed, but you can still buy tickets on the day at the Booking Office
Exclusive to the MG Car Club
Take lunch in our Station Refreshment Rooms and receive a free dessert!
* Note that discounted advance ticket sales close at midnight on Friday 12th May 2017
Come and enjoy a weekend of Hopping Fun at Bodiam Station in East Sussex on Saturday 9 and Sunday 10 September.
Take a walk through the Hop Gardens and try your hand at picking hops before taking a peek inside a recreated Hoppers Hut.
The railway’s heritage steam trains will run each day through the beautiful Wealden countryside between Tenterden and Bodiam Stations with trains every 45 minutes.
While enjoying a beer from the beer tent listen to Live musicians "The Sideboard Men" who will be entertaining visitors over the weekend.
Everyone can enjoy Punch and Judy shows and all the fascinating displays of hopping equipment together with vintage and agricultural vehicles.
Children can also enjoy face painting and swing boat rides and balloon modelling. Look out for Mr Topper the stilt walker.
The BBQ will have some local produce on offer including a delicious range of sausages.
The licensed ‘Hoppers Bar’ features a range of locally brewed real ales and the popular Hoppers Kitchen will be serving the very best in railway tea and scrummy homemade cakes!
The railway played an important part in hop picking at Bodiam as hops were grown along the Rother Valley and at the Guinness Hop Farms at Bodiam. Each year special trains were run to the Kent & East Sussex Railway from London to take the hop-pickers, invariably entire families from the East End, to Kent. The men, women and children would spend several weeks in the countryside each year, picking hops as their holiday. There was much drinking too!
Admission including all-day travel on the trains: Adult £18, Child (3 - 15 years inc.) £12 and Family (2 adults + up to 3 children or 1 adult and up to 4 children) £38. Please see the timetable on the website for times of steam train operation. A 10% saving applies to these prices when pre-booking tickets:
Sorry, SOLD OUT
K&ESR train tickets provide a small discount on admission to the National Trust castle
Tenterden (TN30 6HE) and Northiam (TN31 6QT) stations have limited free parking for Hop Festival visitors.
*Evening Real Ale Train excluded - to book your seats on this exclusive evening special on 9th September please click here.
The K&ESR welcomes the MG Car Club Magnette Register
For more than 20 years 'Magnettes and Steam' has been the traditional start to the events season for devotees of the popular 1950's sports saloon, meeting at a different preserved railway each Easter. All Magnette enthusiasts are invited, and owners of other MGs will be equally welcome. As usual there's no particular timetable, so once you've parked up (by 10am if possible) there'll be plenty of opportunity to talk to other Magnette owners and get expert advice, browse the Register regalia stall, and of course enjoy the railway! There's a fantastic exhibition running concurrently - click HERE for more information
Book your exclusive discounted Magnette Register train travel tickets here*
Exclusive MG Car Club offer
MG Magnette TravelCard ticket holders can enjoy a free hot drink in the Station Refreshment Rooms at Tenterden Station and there's also a free dessert if you buy a meal at lunchtime!
Real Ale Train
Join us and enjoy some of the finest micro-brewery real ales, normally including one from each of our neighbours the Old Dairy Brewery and the Rother Valley Brewing Company
Our Real Ale Train will be ready for boarding at Tenterden town Station from 6.30pm and departs at 7.00pm, with your choice of meal served as the train travels to Bodiam.
Book in advnace and there's a souvenir branded pint glass to take home, with the selection of Real Ales from the onboard bar at just £3.00 per pint!
How to find us
Traveling to the K&ESR couldn't be easier - click here for directions
* Note that discounted advance ticket sales close at midnight on Thursday 13th April 2017 and these tickets are NOT available on the day. These tickets are also valid for entry to the Bricks Britannia Exhibition!