Hop-Pickers' Tragedy, The

DESCRIPTION: A group of hop-pickers on their way from work approaches (Larklake) Bridge in a horse-drawn vehicle. The horses shy; the vehicle plunges over the bridge into the River Medway with great loss of life
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1973 (recording, Jasper Smith)
KEYWORDS: death drowning farming harvest work disaster horse worker
HISTORICAL REFERENCES:
Oct. 20(?), 1853 - The Medway accident
FOUND IN: Britain(England(Lond,South))
REFERENCES (1 citation):
MacSeegTrav 120, "The Hop-Pickers' Tragedy" (1 text, 1 tune)
Roud #1729
RECORDINGS:
Jasper Smith, "Hartlake Bridge" (on Voice08)
ALTERNATE TITLES:
There Was Four-and-Twenty Strangers
NOTES: [On October 20, 1853,] A horse-drawn brake carrying a party of hop-pickers plunged over Hartlake Bridge into the River Medway. Thirty people, including four children, were drowned. The dead included Travellers, Irish, and English.
[MacColl and Seeger write,] "In spite of being very well known among Kent and Surrey Travellers, the song does not appear to have been printed at any time." - PJS
Regarding the date of the event, Hall, notes to Voice08, re "Hartlake Bridge" cites Mike Yates as source for an October 1858 date. Yates, Musical Traditions site Voice of the People suite "Notes - Volume 8" - 1.3.03 also has the date as October, 1858. - BS
It appears this is a misreading. I found a reference to the accident in the October 29, 1853 edition of the London Illustrated News. It claims 32 people were killed. As of this writing, a citation may be found at http://tinyurl.com/tbdx-MedwayTrag. (It's in section 39 of the page; use a find command to look for "Medway." The headline is "'The Upper Great Hartlake Bridge over The medway, The Scene of the Late Accident' Collapse of a bridge killing thirty two men women and children, hop pickers on their way home"). - RBW
Last updated in version 2.5
File: McCST120

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