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Re: "Happy as a Sandboy"

Posted by James Briggs on February 10, 2004

In Reply to: "Happy as a Sandboy" posted by Stan Unwin on February 10, 2004

: Can anyone enlighten me as to the derivation of the above phrase?

Here's what I believe. Not everyone accepts this and I've had correspondence with Michael Quion at World Wide Words about it. Go there for his thoughts. Mine are as follows.
Sandboy: As happy as a sandboy is an expression which implies blissful contentment. I believe that the saying is truly Bristolian in origin. On Bathurst basin, in the City centre is the long established Ostrich Inn. The Inn is immediately adjacent to the Redcliff caves which, in their day, were a prime source of sand. Past landlords of the Inn used to send little boys ie Sandboys into the caves to collect sand to spread on the floor of the Inn to soak up the beer and ale droppings (much like butchers used to put sawdust on the floor of their shops). The Sandboys were paid for their efforts in beer. They were indeed happy.