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Hartlake Bridge Hop-Pickers Tragedy

October 20th, 1853: 37 hop-pickers, travelling back from the fields by horse and cart from the village of Golden Green to their lodgings at Tudeley, crossed the dangerous wooden bridge at Hartlake.

The horses took fright, and kicked at the bridge railings, which broke, and all souls were swept into the storm waters and lost. Entire families were lost. Some were Irish, and others Romany. An inquest was held, but the Medway Navigation Trust was deemed NOT responsible for failing to upkeep the bridge, and the death labelled accidental. But national publicty meant a public subscription paid for the funeral, and a small memorial in Hadlow churchyard.