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Crawley is a both an English town and a borough in West Sussex and is part of Greater London. The name of the town is derived from the Angelo-Saxon phrase “crawe lea,” which means “crow infested clearing”.

The first written record from its history is from 1202, when King John granted the village to have a market each Wednesday. It was an important ironworking centre for the next 400 years, but the establishment of a turnpike road between London and Brighton in 1770 brought with it more residents and a whole industry for Crowley which was at the halfway point between the two.

In 1841, the Crawley railway station was established. It connected the towns of Three Bridges and East Grinstead in 1855, and by 1861, more than 25% of the population of Crawley worked for the railway in 1881, In 1898, several companies, including Christ’s Hospital, relocated to Crawley on a site next door to the railway station.

During World War II, the town was hit by 44 high explosives, three VI flying bombs (or Doodlebugs), 2,000 incendiaries, and seven oil bombs. More than 1,200 homes and businesses were seriously damaged and two dozen were destroyed entirely. Further, nine people died in the bombings while at least 78 people were injured.

After the war, the government enacted the New Towns Act 1946, which allowed the government to designate towns which had suffered the effects of World War II, primarily housing shortages. Crawley was chosen in 1947. New homes were built and new shops were established once the 1950s. These developments led to a population increase from about 9,500 to 51,000 or so in 15 years.

Crawley is the main centre of industry between the south coast and London, and includes service companies as well as industrial facilities with most of them having to do with the airport, and the economy continues to expand.



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