History of Sandy - 18th & 19th Century
The Late Victorian Era
Sandy, in common with many small communities, started to benefit from the advances in what we would now call technology. Gas came to Sandy in the 1860's, when the Peel family built a gasworks in New Road, near the railway station. Gas lighting was in use in the town until 1927.
The railway came in 1850, with the Great Northern line passing through on its eventual way to Edinburgh. Later, in 1858, the Cambridge to Bedford railway.
After the Enclosure Act of 1804, most of the open fields surrounding the nucleus of the town disappeared, with a few larger enclosed farms and market gardening concerns. This meant more commercial volumes of produce being transported away to the wholesale markets in London and the midlands.
Local government consisted of a parish council, which was within the then Biggleswade Rural District Council, formed as a result of the Local Government Act of 1894.
The population of Sandy tripled between 1801 and 1901 - from 1115 to 3110 (even in 1973, the population was still only 5600 - so it will be seen that population growth in Sandy has really accelerated since then).
Sandy Building Society was founded in 1876 on the site of what is now the Woolwich Bank, in the High Street.
Much of the terraced housing seen along St Neot's Road, Cambridge Road and the High Street, dates from the end of the 19th Century.
The Sandy Show, was first held in 1868, and from 1884 until its demise in 1954, the show was held in the grounds of Sandye Place. At its peak, the show was the largest of its kind in the midlands, and drew crowds of up to 18,000, many of whom came via special trains laid on for the occasion.
It was essentially a country show, with exhibits of flowers, vegetables, bread and cakes, small animals including dogs, rabbits and pigeons. Tractors and farm implements were also displayed, as well as there being the customary beer tent. The crowds would be entertained by bands from The Guards, and there were plenty of hawkers plying their wares from (hopefully) licensed pitches.
A busy day at Sandy Station during the 'Feast' celebrations - early 1900's
Sandy Floral and Horticultural Society</strong> was formed in 1869, and played a leading role in the success of the shows, and in the re-establishment of the Sandy Flower Show in the 1960's. It was held at Bickerdike's Nursery until 1997, when once more the show returned to its original location in the grounds of Sandye Place School. This year (2011) celebrated 45 years in its new format. These days, the organisation is called ' Sandy & District Horticulural Association' and they have a website. (Click on the name to view)