Being a Volunteer

The move to the new museum buildings at The Tree is an exciting time for anyone interested in local history, and offers a good opportunity for people to get involved in researching and talking about the development of Crawley. This is especially so as it coincides with the 70th anniversary of the announcement of the post-war New Town in 1947.

Being a volunteer offers excellent opportunities to indulge an interest in local history. I started working with the Museum earlier this year, and have been mainly involved in identifying and numbering items in the collection, and packing them for the move to The Tree. This has included everything from the remains of early pottery found during excavation work around Crawley, to modern ceramic pieces produced as local souvenirs, to scale models of buildings that are no longer standing.

I have also been able to put some of my professional skills to use in writing brief comments to go with some of the permanent exhibits for the new museum – a real challenge to put someone’s life into one hundred words!

Working with curator Helen Poole and her team, even in this small way, has been a real education, not only in the history of Crawley, but also in what needs to go on behind the scenes in a museum.

There is still a lot to be done before the new museum can open, so new volunteers are always welcome. And why not join Crawley Museum Society, and find out more about the history of our town, going back many hundreds of years.

Graham Crozier, Museum Volunteer.

Community stand

Volunteering at Community Events

I’m a Londoner. I lived in Horley for 25 years and moved to Crawley 10 years ago, but my roots are still in London therefore it was with apprehension that I turned up for my first event as a volunteer for Crawley museum. ‘Don’t worry’ said Andrea, ‘the people who turn up will tell you about Crawley’, and they certainly did.

The event was celebrating the 70th anniversary of Crawley New Town at Worth Park in May. Andrea had selected a hundred or so photos taken when the new town was being built to display on our stall. The photos were taken of the different ‘villages’ that now make up Crawley, as well as road networks, the airport and various events such as carnivals and parades. Those photos certainly brought back memories and provoked much conversation amongst the people who turned up – old and young alike!

A group of men in their seventies were the first to turn up and they certainly knew the history of Crawley! I imagined them in their wellies and grey school shorts playing all over the building sites after school! People recognised houses being built where friends had lived and the old shops in the various district parades. Andrea was hoping that someone would recognise one of people in the photos but sadly no-one did. The lack of cars on the roads was a talking point. No parking problems at Christmas in town in those days!

It will be interesting to have all these photos available in the new museum and to encourage people to record what they know about the places and scenes before this information is gone.

I certainly know more about the history of Crawley after my afternoon on the stall. My eight year old grandson also now knows a lot of local history after a visit to his school by Andrea and Helen. He is a bit of a history buff anyway, but was so full of interest after their talk he could recount practically word for word of what they had said without drawing breath. If the rest of his class were as fascinated by the talk as he was maybe we will have a band of junior volunteers when the museum eventually opens.

History is made by people and the legacy is carried on by people – never too young to learn! Or even too old?




Volunteering at Crawley Museum

The door to local history opened wide for me when I joined Crawley Museum Society (CMS) 28 years ago – initially attending monthly meetings and trips to local museums.

Roger Bastable the late local historian, asked my husband Michael and I if we would use one of our lorries to help move the stored artefacts from The Tree to Goffs Park House Annexe. ( This is now in the process of a reverse move)

I then volunteered as a steward at Goffs Park, working with several different curators over time. Meeting many people, some local, some from overseas, even people who thought Crawley didn`t have any history. No two sessions were ever the same but always interesting.

I was asked about ten years ago by our then curator Janet Roskilly if I would be interested in audio history interviewing; I was very interested.

What evolved was a liaison between the WRVS and CMS to start a audio history course for volunteers. The course was run by Sussex University, who  sent tutors and equipment to our group learning sessions held at the Hawth. I worked with the WRVS on this project for several months then had to hand  back the recorder.

The museum was able to obtain our own Marantz recorders and I continue with interviewing to record our local history when requested.

After assisting with The Road to Crawley project and the Worth, Three Bridges and Pound Hill Exhibition held at the Hawth seven years ago I started with the support of our curator, Helen Poole to give talks on Worth and the surrounding area.

With Bill another volunteer we continue to give slide show and talks on Three Bridges and Worth to local groups and clubs to further local knowledge and raise funds for the museum.

Volunteering at Crawley Museum has certainly enhanced my local knowledge and brought Crawley’s history to more people in the community and given me a great deal of pleasure.


Stella Berrisford


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The Tree

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