Goblands Farm, for many years apple orchards and a hop producing farm, has seen its traditional Hop Kiln and farm buildings converted to high specification rural offices.
Duncan and Maxine Pierce continue to farm at Goblands, now as Pierce Farms, as well as manage the diversified business centre. Pierce Farms grows market crops of lettuce and spinach, mostly sold locally, and arable crops, primarily rape and wheat, but also beans, linseed and barley. Most winters we also graze sheep, who, in turn, do their part in ensuring our hay production is of top quality.
Goblands Farm was bought in 1971 by FG Pierce and Sons Ltd, the company founded by Duncan Pierce’s grandfather Fred. Duncan’s parents, Richard and Marilyn Pierce, upon acquiring additional neighbouring land, moved onto the site to live and work from 1982.
The original 101 acres was all hops and orchards. The photograph of the Hop pockets being loaded into the old Dennis lorry, was c. 1925 when the farm was owned by Henry Lambe. He owned it from 1920, having bought it from Sir William Geary, of Oxenhoath. Goblands was sold to Mr. Hugh Pearson of Hadlow Castle Estate in 1930. The Pierce family focused on the farming of hops and apples and some arable. The latter included linseed, rapeseed, wheat and barley. One of the fields is named ‘Bean’ from the farming of runner beans, and there was an intensive operation established for strawberries, all of which were driven up to London through the old Blackwall tunnel to Covent Garden market in the early hours every day.
The evolution continued when Richard Pierce and his brother William divided FG Pierce and Sons Ltd. R J Pierce continued to increase the production of arable crops and away from intensive strawberries. Leaving the hops behind following the demise of UK production in the mid-1980’s, the old Hop Kilns were used for the odd party, with the smell of hop pollen hanging heavy over the dance floor.
As a number of the old farm buildings became used less and less for agriculture, a change of permitted use, as part of the Government’s policy of encouraging diversification in the 1980’s and early ‘90’s, meant that small businesses came to be on the site. Our first tenant is still with us! We have retained some of the original machinery in the Hop Kilns offices, and the pay hut including the small pay window from which the Pickers’ would collect their weekly wages, is now a meeting room. . It can be seen in one of the photographs, just behind two tractors, one being driven by Duncan and his younger brother Howard (on the grey one) as young teens.