Sandbach (pronounced sand-batch ) is a market town and civil parish in the unitary authority of Cheshire East and the ceremonial county of Cheshire, England. The civil parish contains four settlements; Sandbach itself, Elworth, Ettiley Heath and Wheelock.
Sandbach is perhaps best known as the original home of Foden and ERF lorries, though neither company now exists in the town, 12-times National Brass Band Championship winners, Foden's Band, the ancient Saxon Sandbach Crosses, and Sandbach services on the M6 motorway.
Known as Sanbec in 1086, Sondbache (also Sondebache) in 1260, and Sandbitch in the 17–18th centuries, Sandbach derives its name from the Anglo-Saxon sand bæce, which can mean "sand stream" or "sand valley".
Traces of settlement are found in Sandbach from Saxon times, when the town was called Sanbec. Little is known about the town during this period, except that it was subjected to frequent Welsh and Danish raids. The town's inhabitants were converted to Christianity in the 7th century by four priests: Cedda, Adda, Betti and Diuma. The town has an entry in the Domesday Book from 1086, at which time it was sufficiently large to need a priest and a church. The entry states:
Sanbec: Bigot de Loges. 1 hide and 1½ virgates pay tax. Land for 2 ploughs. 1 Frenchman has ½ plough, 3 slaves. 2 villagers have ½ plough. Church. Woodland. Value TRE 4s; now 8s.
By the 13th century, during the reign of King John much of the land around the township of Sandbach was owned by Richard de Sandbach who was the High Sheriff of Cheshire in 1230. Richard de Sandbach specifically owned a manor, he claimed an interest in the living of Sandbach. This claim against Earl Randle de Blundeville was unsuccessful. His son, John, however was slightly more successful as he won an 'interest' temporarily against the Abbot of Dieulacres only for it to be lost when it went to the King's Bench.
Sandbach has been a market town since 1579 when it was granted a Royal Charter by Elizabeth I due to the petitioning of Sir John Radclyffe of Ordsall who, as the largest landowner in Sandbach and the owner of the Sandbach Old Hall, encouraged the farmers of the area to hold a market in the town on Thursdays. The charter also allowed for right to establish a Court-leet and a Court of Pied-powder. The original charter is still preserved, and can be found in Chester; a reproduction can be found in the Sandbach Town Council chamber, which is at the Literary Institution. The charter also granted the town the right to hold two annual fairs, which lasted for two days, and were held around Easter and early September. Today the Thursday market is still held outdoors on Scotch Common, and in and around the Town Hall.
Civil war and Commonwealth
During the Wars of the Three Kingdoms, a Scottish army swept down into England before being forced to retreat at the Battle of Worcester. On 3 September 1651 Sandbach summer fair was being held, and a Scottish army of around 1,000 exhausted cavalry men passed through the town; this army had been under the command of David Leslie. The town was not an easy retreat route however, as the people of Sandbach and the market stallholders attacked the Scottish army. A newspaper of the time said:
The dispute was very hot for two or three houres, and there were some townsmen hurt and two or three slaine, the Townesman slew about nine or ten and tooke 100 prisoners.
This was the only notable event of the Civil War to have happened in Sandbach. As the fair and the fight took place on the common of the town, after this event the common gained the name Scotch Common.
17th century to present day
During the 17th century, the town used to be famous for its ale:
And about 1621 William Webb writes that "Our ale here at Sandbach being no less famous than that [at Derby] of a true nappe".
In 1836 Sandbach silk mills employed 554 people, including 98 boys and girls under 12 years old. In 1801 the population was 1844, by 1851 this had reached 4659. Sandbach became a civil parish in 1866. The records from 1901 show a population of 5568. The Sandbach Corn Mill was a three-story brick building built in the late 19th century, on what is now Mill Hill Lane.
In 1936 parts of the area of Bradwall, all of Elton and Wheelock were added, significantly increasing the parishes size. The Hamlets transferred from Bradwall were Boothlane Head, Brickhouses, Ettiley Heath, Forge Fields, Hindheath, Elworth and Marsh Green. By 1951 the population had reached 9253. In 1933 the ERF lorry company was founded
During Warship Week in December 1941 Sandbach adopted HMS Vimiera as its affiliated ship. The Vimiera was lost on 9 January 1942 when it was sunk by a mine in the Thames estuary off East Spile Buoy with the loss of 96 hands.