The sand industry has had a major influence upon the landscape, growth and development of Leighton Buzzard and Heath and Reach. The industry has also contributed considerably to the economic growth of the area by becoming a major employer from the 19th to the 20th century and developing a large workforce.
In these pages it is possible to trace the story of men working as dobbers digging by hand with the help of the horses and carts to transport the sand. Read also about the first steam excavators, to diesel locomotives and the latest techniques to extract sand including 40 ton dumper trucks and a sophisticated dredging machine especially made to extract sand from under water at Grovebury quarry, one of only two in the world.
A separate section illustrates how sand processing has changed, again from very primitive techniques to sophisticated modern techniques to wash, dry and grade sand for multiple uses.
The effect on the community is also covered in this section. The positive and negative aspects are highlighted through personal stories. These include positive aspects of economic development, happy childhoods spent around quarries and the lasting friendships of working men & women. Sadly, incidents and deaths in the quarries are also referred to, the result of few safety regulations in the early days of the industry.