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Early References to Sand in Heath and Reach

Sand washing about 1910
Sand washing about 1910 [Z50/72/200]

Sand has, presumably, been quarried in Heath and Reach from quite early times, but there are no records held by Bedfordshire Archives. The earliest record held by the service dates to 1734 [M1/9/1]. It is a lease for eleven years at £3/10/- per annum from Edmund Williamson of Husborne Crawley to Latham Arnold, tobacconist, of London of a cottage in Leighton Buzzard [Heath & Reach was then just a hamlet of Leighton Buzzard] called the Sand House, one acre of land, two sand pits and a well. In 1759 Talbot Williamson of Husborne Crawley leased the land and cottage (now, presumably the Sandhouse Inn, given the occupation of the lessee) to John Bates of Leighton Buzzard, publican at £5 per annum.

Heath & Reach was inclosed in 1844 and BLARS has a book of evidence of sand quarrying throughout the parish by various of the allotment holders in the Inclosure Award [BO1427]. Between 1896 and 1912 Joseph Arnold & Sons Limited disputed the amounts at which their various pits in Heath & Reach and Leighton Buzzard were rated and Bedfordshire and Luton Archives and Records Service has considerable correspondence in the Stimpson Eves archive [Z720/250-252].

The service does not hold records on all the various pits in Heath & Reach. For example, there is nothing on the various pits near the new Lower School, or on the pit opposite the old Stone Lane Hill pit or the pit at the northern angle formed by the A5 and Woburn Road. The service does hold material on two of Heath & Reach and Leighton Buzzard's former principal sand quarrying firms - J.Arnold and Sons Limited and George Garside (Sand) Limited.

The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) awarded the Greensand Trust a grant for a sand history archive project to collate information and celebrate the history of the Leighton Buzzard Sand industry.  This project recorded the stories of the sand and related industries in Leighton Buzzard and Heath and Reath, Bedfordshire through a series of oral history interviews.  As part of its work it also collected supporting research information and photographs.  The project ran from 2007-2010.  A walking trail was created around Leighton Buzzard with extracts from the recordings and information about the industry.  The oral history recordings, transcripts, research material and photographs of interviewees from the Sands of Time project were deposited with Bedfordshire Archives in 2010.  Search the online catalogue for reference X962 for descriptions of what records are held by Bedfordshire Archives.