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A snapshot of Crawley’s past

Crawley is well-known for being a one of eight “New Towns” dotted around London which was developed to accommodate the over-flow from an over-crowed capital post-war.  Yet its place in history pre-dates as far back as the Stone Age.

May is Local and Community History Month. Its aim is to increase awareness and promote local history in the community so what better time to discover the past on our doorsteps?

To find out why knowing more about our local history is so important, we asked Helen Poole, museum officer at Crawley Museum to share her thoughts.

“Knowing about our local history is very important in giving people a sense of pride in their locality. We did an extensive public consultation and the overwhelming view was that people were proud to live in Crawley and wanted others to share their enthusiasm” Helen explained.

Keen to emphasise that Crawley isn’t simply a New Town created in the post-war reconstruction of the 1940s and 1950s, Helen says that Crawley’s history can be dated back to the Stone Age and saw several key stages of development including rail travel and the building of Gatwick Airport.

“It is important to let people know that Crawley didn’t just materialise after the war, but that this New Town was the third phase, in a continuous line stretching back. The coming of the railways had led to the expansion of the town with the influx of people who could commute up to London.’

“Happily all three phases of Crawley’s existence are part of the fabric of The Tree (Crawley Museum’s new home, opening later this year!), which is perfectly placed to illustrate the growth of Crawley from a small village to the bustling New Town we see today” Helen says.

To find out more about Crawley’s history and plans for the Town Centre museum visit:

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