Service remembered those who died at Hartlake
17th September 2003
Church at Hadlow held a special service in October to remember the
victims of the Hartlake disaster.
plaque in St Mary's Church|
Thursday October 20th 1853 a wagon full of hop-pickers toppled into
the swollen River Medway and 30 were drowned.
The harvest was late that year and the weather bad. Some local Gypsy
families and some from Ireland were on their way home when "day
and night were hardly parted" and they crossed the old wooden
bridge at Hartlake.
the shaft horse stumbled and fell through the rotten side board
taking horses, riders and human cargo with it.
reported that you could hear the screams from as far away as East
Peckham and people came from miles around to help with the rescue,
prodding the riverbank with hop poles to find survivors. But conditions
were so bad that one body was not recovered until Monday.
inquest was held on Saturday 22nd October at noon at the Bell Inn,
Golden Green. Witnesses described the catastrophe with one survivor
telling how others came "tumbling down like hailstones".
Locals stated that the bridge had been in bad repair for many years.
It was later replaced with one made of stone but some of the old
wooden posts survive to this day.
memorial in Hadlow|
victims were buried in one grave at Hadlow Church and early in December
1853 a vestry meeting decided that a suitable memorial should be
erected to those who died.
One hundred and fifty years later it still stands although some
of the names are hard to read. Inside the porch is a plaque on the
wall giving the names and ages of all the victims save one.
The Herne child aged just two when disaster struck has no first
More news: Four-day celebration