Once a small, sleepy place on the way to Brighton, Crawley became identified as a potential ‘new town’ after the end of the Second World War. By the late 1950s the population had increased fivefold, largely due to an influx of people from the East End of London. At first, it was even regarded as one of the more successful new towns, providing thousands of jobs and affordable homes, unlike some of its counterparts. But that was because it yet hadn’t been completely ruined by Brutalist architecture and high-rise developments. It was more like a dull, outer London suburb that had been dropped onto some fields in Sussex.
Soon, Crawley became the victim of its own success and, in the 1960s, permission was given to double the town’s population to over 100,000. Today, Crawley is characterised by cheap, poorly designed housing, a creaking transport infrastructure and a cultural life that makes Milton Keynes look like the Weimar Republic.
Now, the town is populated by people who think Karl Popper is a designer label and that Mansfield Park is where Nottingham Forest play. However it’s not all bad. If you like chain restaurants, Crawley boasts an extensive range of eateries that will supersize you for a bargain price and if you want to book your 30th birthday party, the grandchildren can eat free.
The jewel in Crawley’s Elizabeth Duke crown is the County Mall shopping centre, where locals can be seen shuffling in grey, flannelette tracksuits, up and down escalators in a scene that will be familiar to anyone who has watched ‘Dawn of the Dead’.
When the zombie apocalypse comes, it may wreak havoc and devastation in most of our towns and cities, but in Crawley it will be business as usual.
New Age Bollocks
I once went to a Psychic Fair in Crawley. A woman dangled a crystal over my crotch and told me she could “feel a lump there”. That was a decade ago and I still don’t have cancer so I’m guessing the lump she felt was just one of my balls.
As a resident of Crawley “man and boy”( from 3 generations of my family), having seen the town grow and become the economic heart of North Sussex and Surrey I am amused to see that your forthcoming publication will include Crawley as pne of the worst places to live.
Crawley does get a bad press from people like Jeremy Clarkson (enough said), the residents of Horsham and Chichester (who rely on Crawley for jobs, an airport, Schools etc) but then when you are a working (and Labour) town surrounded by snobs and bigot’s you can expect no different?
But I see from a Guardian article of 2012 that you are quoted as saying “”The bottom line is we always try to tell the truth and the people who write in are telling the truth about the places.”. But from the two quotes which have made it into our local paper it is anything but the truth, rather a subjective snide rant likely from a West Sussex bigot (since when has County Mall been the “jewel in Crawley’s Elizabeth Duke (who?) crown? And I can safely say I haven’t seen a grey flannelette tracksuit in town for some time!
Also another comment was “a creaking transport system”, well “Eureka”, which town in Britain doesnt have on of those, especially a town with next to no unemployment and with masses of incomers every day to work in and around the town and use the schools (not to mention the night time traffic in to use the clubs, bars and pubs as well as the theatre, Olympics sports centre etc.). Even then we have three BR rail stations an extensive bus network and various cycleways so there is plenty of choice for the discerning bigot.
It is a working new town and not the prettiest (but it does have the best park in the area (Tilgate which also houses the best golf course around), but is is a welcoming multi-cultural (and all the better for it, but also another reason for our critics to snipe) thriving town. My wife who hails from Newcastle has lived here for nearly 20 years and has always commented on how much friendlier people are down here (but then again that is just a subjective view, as are those selectively chosen for your books).
I am not sure the distress you cause by these needless moneymaking schemes is justified, but it is more likely to affect my school aged children than ourselves. They are always being told what a dump Crawley is, by school colleagues from Horsham and surrounds (who happen to come to school in Crawley because our schools seem to be better!) and often ask me what is so bad about it. The innocence of youth, but at least they are keeping both eyes open to the world!
Proud Crawley Resident of 60 years
Crawley attacked again
Crawley for the top ten please.
It’s a hole and nothing built after 1930 has any architectural merit.