By Roger Bastable
CRAWLEY was showing signs a century ago that it was a town destined for enlargement and development and, in many ways, the seeds of the new town were sown well before the end of the 19th century. In his first book, Crawley: A Pictorial History (1983), the author examined the changing face of the town thematically. In this new book he uses 200 carefully-chosen photographs to illustrate how Crawley’s inexorable growth over the past 100 years reflects the social and economic revolution that has transformed Britain, in that period more clearly shown by Crawley than by most other towns.
The decline and demise of the many landed estates that surrounded the still largely agricultural Crawley into the early years of this century was matched by the burgeoning growth of the industrial and commercial town that spread, estate by estate, over the green fields and round the leafy copses slowly, at first, then with bewildering speed in the 1950s, following the designation of Crawley as a New Town in 1946. The development continues and Mr. Bastable ends his book by pondering the directions it might take as Crawley approaches the 21st century.
The author brings the story of Crawley, which began in the depths of a Saxon forest a millennium ago, right up to the summer of 1986 when the fortieth anniversary of the New Town was celebrated. In a sense, this book is a part of the celebration; a fascinating record for all Crawley folk, old towners and new towners alike, of the making of their present environment, of how much has changed and why, and of the people whose lives and work have made and continue to develop the new town of Crawley.
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114 pages, 201 illustrations