The railway helped local farmers to cultivate labour intensive crops such as hops and fruit by providing easy transport for seasonal labourers.
Both hop and fruit farming depends on a large amount of labour at harvest time, and the availability of seasonal workers was greatly assisted by the railways. Special trains, known as hop-pickers' specials, were run during the picking season.
Much of this additional labour came from London, where poor families looked on it as a working holiday. Often mothers and children would come for the whole season, staying in hop-pickers' huts provided by the farmers, and would be joined at the weekends by those men who had to remain in London during the week to work.