Throughout its history, Sandy Heath has been mined for sand and gravel, which has resulted in a very pitted "moonscape lunar" surface.
Some of these craters have retained water and become the ponds we see today.
Old workings were not necessarily eyesores: the mixture of vegetation with patches of bright red and yellow sand was admired in 1823, picnickers enjoyed the ridges and hollows, Dickens thought that a few made an improvement, and later they were often seen as picturesque.
The expression "happy as a sandboy" has possible origins in boys selling sand to local pub landlords for covering the floor for which they were often rewarded with free ale!
In 1939 large pits were dug near the Vale of Health and on Sandy Heath for the filling of sandbags. The new pits were filled with rubble at the end of the war and their sites thereafter marked only by a different flora.
Sandy Road, skirting West Heath and bisecting Sandy Heath from West End Lane to the Spaniards, was closed to motor traffic in 1924 and thereafter formed two bridle paths.
The main roads across the old heath, Spaniard's and North End roads, were kept free of public transport services until 1922. A proposal to demolish the tollhouse opposite the Spaniards in 1961 was successfully resisted, partly on the grounds that it would lead to more and faster traffic.