All aboard! Schoolchildren learn about High Weald Hop-picking Heritage

Schoolchildren from Northiam enjoyed a trip on the Kent & East Sussex Railway last week, as part of a special project to learn about the fascinating heritage of their local area.

Year 5 and 6 pupils from Northiam C of E Primary School heard about the hop-pickers who travelled from London every year for a taste of the Sussex countryside – and even had a chance to pick some hops themselves! 

They then ‘hopped’ on the steam train at Bodiam Station for an exciting ride back to Northiam Station, enjoying picturesque views of the surrounding High Weald landscape.

The High Weald Heritage Schools project is a collaboration between the High Weald AONB Partnership and Heritage Schools, part of Historic England. Six schools across the area are taking part in special walks and bespoke workshops developed by High Weald Education Officer, Rachel Bennington.

Pupils become Time Traveller Detectives, researching and exploring heritage features near their school such as Anglo Saxon routeways, sandstone churches, Tudor iron masters’ houses, hammer ponds or hop farms. Using those features – and other evidence such as maps and artefacts – they create an eye-catching Timeline display, telling the story of their local heritage. 

Julia Bray, Headteacher at Northiam C of E Primary School, said: “The children really enjoyed their trip; it was a great opportunity for them to learn about the hop-picking history on their doorstep, and what better way to start the school year than a ride on a steam train?”

Rachel Bennington, High Weald AONB Education Officer, said: ‘In a time when technology can take you anywhere at any time, it’s so important that children feel connected to – and care about – the place where they live. Our Heritage Schools project brings the High Weald landscape’s rich history to life, and it’s been hugely rewarding to see the children’s excitement.”

High Weald Hero education programme
Historic England & the Heritage Schools Programme
Kent & East Sussex Railway

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