Land Use

The coming of the railway encouraged local farmers to plant orchards.  Image from archives of Marden History Group, 2510

The South Eastern Railway had another important impact on the landscape in and around Marden, by encouraging a change in land-use.

Before the coming of the railway, agricultural land in the area was primarily given over to wheat, barley and oats. The railway, by opening up new markets in London and further afield, encouraged farmers to switch to more profitable crops.

Between 1867 and 1935, the acreage given over to wheat, barley and oats declined to around a quarter. Production of hops initially increased, but after production peaked around 1881, the number of acres used for hop growing was half that of 1867 by 1935.

The number of acres cultivated as orchards grew rapidly between 1881 and 1935. From 334 acres the figure increased more than six-fold, growing to 2160 by 1935. Although it is impossible to say with certainty that this was as a result of the coming of the railway, having access to the additional markets that the Railway opened up must have made this crop more attractive to local farmers.

The House of Commons Opposed Bill Committee which considered the South Eastern Railway Bill heard evidence from Joseph Ramsden, a fruit salesman at Borough Market.  He talked about the great contribution that Kent could make to London's fruit supply, if the railway was built.  Find out more by reading his evidence.

You can also find out more about the wider impact of the railway on agriculture in the area.

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