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History of Sandy - Modern Times continued

Sandy History

History of Sandy: Modern Times (2)

Since Sandy Community website was launched in 1999, we have seen yet more changes in the life of Sandy and its' citizens.

Our postscript, which we hope will last a further 5 years or so, is intended to describe these changes and developments in order to provide a more rounded update to the information contained elsewhere in the site.

In 1965, we had several banks, at least three building societies and a firm of solicitors called Leeds Smith (Founded by E.T. Leeds Smith). In 2005, we have three banks, one of which is a former building society (latterly the Woolwich Bank, which itself acquired the Gateway Building Society in the High Street) and now owned by Barclays Bank. With the closure of all Woolwich branches in 2007, the old Post Office site lay dormant for quite a while but in the summer of 2008 was taken over by Ladbrokes and is now one of two betting shops in the town. (Ladbrokes originally took over Parsons in Park Road but following their move to the old Post Office site at 1 High Street, the Park Road premises are now occupied by an estate agent.

In 1965, we had Sandy Urban District Council operating out of offices behind Fane's Corner, an area re-developed following the decision to build the G.L.C. London overspill project to the north side of St Neot's Road (1973). The old council offices were occupied by Bedford Building Society, with the newly formed Sandy Town Council moving to the old Fire Station in Cambridge Road (1974). More recently, in 2008, the Sandy Tourist Information Office has been moved from Shannon Court to a purpose built extension of the Town Council Offices.

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The offices were later occupied by Gareth Woodfine solicitors but the property has recently become redundant again, with the acquisition of Leeds Smith by Woodfines (now called just Woodfines) and occupying the premises previously held by Leeds Smith, next door at no 6 Bedford Road). The old Woodfines offices became the new 'Gaffney's' restaurant and function venue, which opened on December 1st 2006. In 2008, Gaffney's became 'Gabriels Restaurant' and in the summer of 2009, 'The Island Bar & Grill. The original plan had been for a new NHS dentist in the town. However, following the retirement of local shoe mender, Keith Marsom in the Spring of 2006, the dental practice next door in the Market Square, run by Uday Patel, acquired the premises and extended into it, together with the provision of a dental service specifically to deal with NHS patients - something long needed in the town. The other dentist is now run by Lindy Poole and operates as 'Cloves'. During 2009 (to date- early 2011), this practice is registering new NHS patients as well.

(Picture is of former Sandy Building Society, now Woodfine Solicitors)

Following a campaign led by Sandy Historical Research Group, part of the Market Square street scene has been preserved with the old Baptist Chapel in Pleasant Place and nos 2- 4 St Neots Road. A Planning Application was approved for the demolition of Magnolia House (early 2006)and the whole site, apart from the old coal office and nos 2-4 St Neots Road, now turned over to the construction of new buildings. In 2010, the bare plot left by the demolion of the original Magnolia House, was been sold to Mayfair Holdings in 2008, and, after planning consent was granted in mid 2010 erected a building featuring seven apartments. However, there has been some wrangling over a request to call the new building 'Mayfair House' (after the developers) but hopefully, sense will prevail and it will be called 'Magnolia House', after the building it replaced. 'Downing Court', which the rest of the development is now named after the late Richard Downing.

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(Picture is of the Baptist Chapel c.1974, Courtesy Ruby King)

The central part of the Market Square has also undergone several changes, mainly of ownership. What was a wine & sprits merchant in the early 1900's, has been a service station, a car ahowroom, a shoe shop (alas,we no longer have any shoe shops in Sandy), a coffee shop and most recently (since the spring of 2010) an indian restaurant - we now have four in the town, with 'Lounge India' the latest incarnation of the former Gaffneys/Gabriels/Island Bar & Grill.

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(picture is of the former car showroom cum shoe shop - now an Indian Restaurant)

The premises on the eastern side of the Market Square, next to the charity shop and adjacent to a passage way into the main town car park, has been a small supermarket and most recently an off licence - after two changes of ownership, finally ceasing trading in early 2010. The owner of the Budgens franchise in the centre of Sandy opened a'Pricerite' store in the autumn of 2010, selling wines & beers and other 'cut price' goods but this now (in early 2011) to be almost permanently closed.


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