By Roger Bastable
CRAWLEY began to emerge from rural obscurity in the late 17th century, when Brighton’s growth as a resort brought coaching trade to the village, halfway along the road from London. While many such coaching villages declined again after the rude arrival of the railway age, Crawley began a century of almost revolutionary changes in the 1840s, for the ‘Iron Horse’ came to Crawley itself and more than made up for the passing of the ‘golden age of coaching’. One hundred years later, as the railway age came to an end another drastic change was produced by the establishment of Crawley New Town.
The invention of the steam locomotive was closely followed by another Victorian discovery – the camera. Crawley’s century of phenomenal change was well recorded by local and visiting photographers and from their prolific output, Roger Bastable has compiled an evocative and vivid pictorial history of the town. Crawley’s transformation from coaching venue to the most modern and fastest-growing town in an otherwise conservative county has an obvious and direct interest for all who live in that part of Sussex. The value of the book extends beyond mere curiosity about the town’s past, however, in that it provides a record of the drastic changes in the social history of Britain at large, over that period; seen in a more dramatic and pervasive form in Crawley than in most other places.
The compiler is a history teacher in the town, to which his grandfather moved in the 1920s, and where he was born, brought up and educated. He has shown through this selection of well-captioned photographs the continuity of Crawley’s lively story and how its history is very much part of its present. Even a new town has a past and very many Crawley people will be fascinated to learn of the making of their present environment and of the departed way of life of their predecessors. The book will also be warmly welcomed well beyond Crawley’s boundaries as a significant
contribution to Sussex history.
PRE OWNED BOOK
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120 pages. 190 illustrations