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back button   Who worked in the sand industry

Who worked in the sand industry?

Sand has been quarried in the Leighton Buzzard area for well over a hundred years. In that time the industry has provided many jobs and has affected the lives of many local people. From the wealthy quarry owning families to the men and women who worked in the quarries and processing plants. From the sandcarters and horse boys, to the boatmen and lorry drivers, not forgetting the people that live near the quarries.


The Dobbers

Dobber is the local name for the men who used to dig the sand. Their first job was to dig out huge amounts of clay to expose the sand underneath. Then, for little pay, they shovelled the sand into horse-drawn skip wagons. The work was difficult and dangerous. They didn’t have the safety equipment or clothing that quarry workers have today, or the machinery to help them dig.

The quarries were often family run businesses. The most well known are Arnolds, started by John Arnold in the 1860s, and Garsides started by George Garside, a local builder in the 1890s. These larger companies had several pits all being quarried at the same time, while other smaller companies such as Jones Sand or LB Silica Sand Ltd had only 1 or 2 pits operating.

sand pit workers
sand pit worker
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