I may be a little biased, having spent half my life living in Crawley, but I genuinely believe that this little town, situated near Gatwick Airport, is one of the best places in the UK to live! Having travelled much of the UK, and having had several homes, including Uxbridge, Bracknell, Chippenham and Hereford, I feel I'm fairly well qualified to speak on the subject. In comparison to the aforementioned quartet, Crawley is an absolute paradise!
To begin with, let me focus on the town's positives. Firstly, it is incredibly well situated. Sited on the convergence of the London to Brighton line with the line down to Horsham, Chichester, Portsmouth and beyond, you may describe Crawley as a typical commuter town. Just over half an hour from London Victoria/Bridge, and from Brighton, Bluewater is just a short drive away for all your shopping needs. This is if you feel the shopping in Crawley is inadequate, which for most purposes it most certainly is not. The County Mall is a large shopping mall, disproportionately large in fact, for a town of Crawley's size, a contains a variety of shops, with increasingly niche manufacturers moving in, such as Superdry and FCUK (maybe niche is the wrong word...!).
The nightlife isn't bad either, with three nightclubs - Liquid, Bar Med and 107. However, the town does have a reputation for a large proportion of undesirables, although I have never had any problem when revelling on a Saturday night!
Many people have a problem with the locals of Crawley, claiming it is a haven for chav. Indeed, I work in nearby Haywards Heath and get a fair amount of schtick from my colleagues for living here! However, I think this is slightly unfair. I do not want to become embroiled in a class debate, so I will allow you to decide for yourself, but certainly Crawley has several upmarket estates and very nice areas to live.
In summary, I love my town! Having moved away twice, I have always ultimately returned to what I consider to be my hometown, despite being originally from the west country. Great shopping, good nightlife, exciting new developments and an unbeatable location!
Being a bit curious of what has been written about my home town, Crawley, I decided to read a few reviews. Unfortunately most of them I've stumbled across are either old, frankly (in my opinion) a bit rubbish, or more commonly both. I'm out to redress the balance.
Crawley is one of ten towns constructed as a result of the first wave of development due to New Towns Act of 1946, and the only one south of the River Thames. Upon their completion the vast majority of Crawley's new houses were occupied by those whose houses in central London had been damaged during the war. As a result of this, most of Crawley's residents today have parents and grandparents who were Londoners, myself included.
Although Crawley in its current state dates back to the 1950's, as was the case with most 'new' towns, Crawley was built around a historic core. Ifield, a neighbourhood in Crawley was mentioned in the Domesday book of 1086, with the first official record of Crawley being created in 1202.
During the Iron Age, and in to the Roman times Crawley continued to be an area where ironwork and extraction were common. When areas to the south west of Crawley were constructed in the 1970's and 80's several furnaces were uncovered.
Due to its location Crawley was a popular resting point for those travelling between London and Brighton. The 15th century timber framed building, The George, housed travellers and their horses until it was converted into a hotel which it continues to serve as today.
During the Victorian era the first train station was opened at Three Bridges in 1841, soon followed by Crawley station which opened in 1841.
*Location and Transport Links*
Crawley is situated almost equidistant between London and Brighton. To be honest I think its location is probably (and sadly) Crawley's best feature. Falling within the jurisdiction of West Sussex County Council, Crawley lies on the cusp of East and West Sussex, and Surrey.
Trains run regularly to London Victoria, and London Bridge, both of which can be reached in around 45 minutes. The M25 is also very easily accessible from the south west of the town, as is the A23 to Brighton.
Within the town there are three train stations, Three Bridges (furthest north), Crawley in the town centre, and Ifield in the south of the town.
Beginning in late 2003 the fastway bus service was introduced to the town. This is a guided bus service which originally ran between Bewbush and Gatwick Airport, with another route running Between Broadfield and Horley, Surrey being added in the summer of 2005. This was an extremely expensive service to implement, and has been considered to be a bit of a white elephant by many residents.
One of the things that Crawley does have going for it is reasonably good leisure facilities.
Opened in 1988 The Hawth is Crawley's only Arts centre, and regularly hosts big London musicals when they go on tour. Crawley Leisure Park was opened in the late 1990's and features amongst various food venues, a large cinema which used to boast the second largest screen in the country (whether this is still true I do not know), a bowling complex, and a large Virgin Active Gym.
Crawley has three clubs including a Liquid/Envy, Brannigans and a newly opened club just off of Peglar Way. Unfortunately these all pander to the tastes of the rather large chav population, so if you're after something a bit less mainstream it's best to avoid Crawley.
Sports wise the towns football club - Crawley Town FC moved into a new, larger stadium in Broadfield a few years ago.
Until recently there were two leisure centers in Crawley, one in the town centre and the other in Bewbush, however both have recently been demolished to make way for new housing stock. These were replaced with a new leisure center: K2. This was built on the school field of Thomas Bennet Community College on the grounds that students from the school were able to use its facilities.
One of the things that make me happy to live where I do are the number of green spaces. I live very close to a millpond which can be nice in summer (if you can imagine it without the dumped trolleys and other assorted litter). I'm also very close to a wooded area called Buchan Park which can (depending on your route) take an hour plus to walk around as it is a decent size. There is also an area of heathland here, and a conservation programme to protect both the animals and plants who live there.
Most of the neighbourhoods have at least one grassy field and a child's play park. Additionally, Tilgate park has an animal reserve, and Goffs park is located close to the centre of town.
Constructed in the 1950's, it has to be said that the council buildings in Crawley town center are hardly works of art. Built in the concrete block style which for some unknown reason was popular around this time everything is rather grey and drab.
Nevertheless, a new library and registrars office was opened at the end of 2008. I'm unsure what is to happen to the old buildings.
Crawley College (now named Central Sussex College) also underwent a bit of a cosmetic makeover to brighten it up recently, though this isn't necessarily to everyone's taste.
Continuing the theme of redevelopment, Crawley Town Hall is due to be demolished in the near future to be replaced by a large John Lewis department store.
Crawley is home to a large variety of shops, however these are mainly chain stores so you are unlikely to find many independent shops here as you would find in Brighton.
Opened in the early 1990's after being built on large section of the towns memorial garden, County Mall is Crawley's only shopping centre.
Amongst others the town has branches of New Look, The Body Shop, H&M, Superdrug, Boots, Topshop, Next, JJB, Lush, Primark, Dorothy Perkins, Argos, Sainsbury's, TK Maxx, M&S, Debenhams, BHS and so on...
Whilst there were some independent shops these were mostly in the old High Street, and most have folded due to the competition with these larger stores. There is a small market in this location every Friday and Saturday.
Used as a RAF base during WWII, Gatwick airport was earmarked for closure. Instead, it was closed for redeveloped between 1956-8,and opened by the Queen in the summer of 1958. The North Terminal was added in 1988, and the airport has been an important part of the local economy.
There are currently six secondary schools in the area:
* Ifield Community College
* Hazelwick School
* Holy Trinity Church of England School
* Oriel High School
* St Wilfrid's Catholic School
* Thomas Bennett Community College
Most of these also have sixth forms attached. Although I didn't go to secondary school in Crawley so I can't speak from experience, none of these have better than 59% achieving 5 A*-C grades, with the lowest having 27%. I'm not sure what the national average is, but if I had children I wouldn't want to send them to school here.
Primary education isn't much better either. Today I read that my old school has received the lowest possible OFSTED score. Although I left in 1997 I'm assuming that the standard of education hasn't changed much, so I can understand why. Allegedly the teaching is sub-standard, as is the level of literacy. In light of that it might not surprise you that I wasn't taught what a comma was until I was in year 6.
Central Sussex College is the towns main college. This provides mainly vocational education for the towns students. For this reason a reasonable number of people opt to attend college in the neighbouring town of Horsham.
Unemployment in Crawley has historically been fairly low, largely due to the presence of the airport which is probably the towns largest employer. The vast majority of Crawley residents work in the service sector, with a sizable number working in the transport industry.
Sussex Police are responsible for maintaining order in Crawley. According to 2007/8 figures robberies, theft of a motor vehicle and burglaries from dwellings were slightly below the national average, whilst sexual offences stood at 1.3 per 1000 of the population compared to a national average of 0.9. Violence against the person was also considerably higher than the national average of 16.2 (22.8), as was theft from a vehicle offences which stood at 9.1 (average 6.9).
Crawley is split into thirteen different neighbourhoods, each of which has its own corresponding colour which is on all street signs for that particular area. These areas are:
1) Langley Green
4) Pound Hill
9) West Green
11) Gossops Green
12) Three Bridges
13) Furnace Green
With the exception of Maidenbower where building commenced in the 1980's, the vast majority of houses in Crawley are located on council estates. It was the wishes of the developers that each neighbourhood should have its own parade of shops, community centre, and pub in the middle.
House prices tend to be below the average prices for the south east. I would attribute this to the large amount of council housing in the town.
Crawley is served by the West Sussex Primary Care Trust. Crawley Hospital was constructed in the 1950's with the rest of the town, however the population of the town has swelled to such a degree that many of Crawley's patients are treated at East Surrey Hospital in Redhill. After being downgraded several years ago Crawley Hospital lost its Maternity ward, A&E, and intensive care units. Proposals were put forward to build a new hospital at Pease Pottage, but these were deemed to be too expensive and pulled.
Crawley is a fairly large town with a population of around 100,000.
In 2006 the ethnic composition of the town was:
1.9% Black British
1.0% Chinese or other
1.7% Mixed Race
In May 2006 the Conservative Party took control of the borough for the first time since its creation. Previously the town had always been Labour controlled. The current MP for the town is Labour councillor Laura Moffat, whose winning margin of 37 seats in the 2005 General Election was the slimmest of any constituency.
In the future there have been plans to build on land to the south west of Crawley. This land is in fact owned by the considerably more affluent neighbouring Horsham council. Many Crawley residents are particularly annoyed by this as they consider Horsham Council to be 'dumping' their housing quota on Crawley. Many residents have opposed this, and we are yet to see if this will come to fruition or not.
Do I plan to spend the rest of my life here?
BUT, Crawley isn't as bad a place as some would have you believe. Whilst it isn't exactly a prime location, we do have reasonably good leisure facilities, good transport links, reasonably priced houses for the south east and low unemployment.
Crawley is a New Town located halfway between London and Brighton. Built in the 50s as an overspill for the capital, it is located next to Gatwick Airport, and is sometimes referred to as Gatwick City. Certainly, it is not the most attractive town, but is fairly well laid-out, with a ring of neighbourhoods around the town centre. The town centre itself is grey and concrete, although the High Street is fairly attractive, with some buildings dating from old Crawley, the village that existed before it was built around. However, it is mainly full of estate agents and eating establishments rather than shops, most of which have migrated into the County Mall a short walk away. This also had the effect of emptying the main square, just off the High Street, and the council havent stopped digging the place up since, in a bid to make retailers return. Unfortunately, Crawley suffers from its proximity to London/Bluewater/trendy Brighton and its hard to see it ever becoming really popular as a shopping venue. However, nightlife has improved over the last 10 years or so, with an assortment of bars and cafes and a leisure park that includes a multi-screen UGC cinema and a bowling alley. There is also a pretty good nightclub next to the train station.
Unemployment in the town is very low, and many people move to the area for work. Property is cheaper than some of the more quaint surrounding areas, and Crawley is very much seen as the poor relation - but it is still a relatively expensive place to put down roots, being within 45 minutes commute of inner London. Some of the estates suffer from the same problems of South London from where the residents moved, and I think it would be fair to say that there is a certain degree of racial tension, despite the diverse ethnic mix. It also suffers from problems with travellers, who visit every year, but the Council are unable, or unwilling to provide a permanent site.
The health care is absolutely appalling; the local hospital shut maternity services over 5 years ago and has recently lost its A&E, with the next nearest hospital being more than 20 minutes drive in good traffic which seems ridiculous for a town of around 100,000 people with an international airport on the doorstep. However, education is better, with most schools performing at or above the national average. All in all, though, there is little to commend living in, or even visiting Crawley.
I have lived in Crawley for three years now and have enjoyed those years. I have no intention of leaving the town in the near future. This town has it's problems but then I defy anyone to say that there town doesn't. I live in a neighbourhood where the ethnic minority is actually the majority! The town has grown in size since the days when it was changed into a new town. There is constant work to improve the town including a relatively new leisure complex which boasts a 15 screen cinema and a huge bowling alley. During the depression Crawley was the only area of Britian that kept many people in employment and still has a considerably lower than average unemployment rate. This town may not be all classic architecture but then not every town can be a Oxford or a Cambridge. As a town we have character you just have to look past the slightly tattered exterior and you will find that Crawley is a loving and giving town. We aren't frightened to speak our minds and have noticed that Crawley is taking a panning by quite a number of people. We would like to say once and for all that no-one can knock our town except for us! We have a well laid out town centre where everything is accessible. Our nightlife is about to pick up with a lap dancing bar due to open some time in the near future. If I didn't think that Crawley was a good place to live would never have moved into it. At the moment I am looking forward to a night on the tiles on Saturday as I strut my funky stuff round the town centre on my hen night. I will be vivisting as many of our wonderful pubs before going on to the nightclub. The town has plenty of watering holes for us to choose from and I inetend to use them all. I may not agree with all the changes that have happened in Crawley over the last 12 months but there is nothing wrong with our town!
Yes, you may wonder what on earth I'm talking about when I say this, but I'm talking about Streets Online - the UK's greatest Online company - they really are value for money - and they are based in the nice place of Crawley. Ok, so it's not the most exciting town in Britain, but in my view their are much worse places to visit. If you like a nice quite walk, then head off to West Sussex and visit Crawley!
Crawley was built as a new town in the sixties to rehouse people from the East End of London I think, and it still suffers from being built all at once and plonked in the Sussex countryside. There are a lot of jobs though, and Gatwick Airport is extremely convenient, so you can get away. County Mall is like every other shopping mall, with its food area (get a free cookie with your coffee at Baskin Robbins though), its chain stores and its centre-piece fountain. No, actually, it hasn't got a fountain, but it doesn't make much difference. Just outside the exit which leads to the old sixties square is a rather original wrought iron frog in a simulated pond of green plants and a few old beer cans. I rather like that. In fact I rather like Crawley, but I wouldn't care to admit it in public. Oh dear.
Crawley is a 'new' town, built in the a few decades ago entirely out of concrete. A drab town with a drab name to match. During the day the only thing worth visiting is the County Mall, as you can pretend you're in a different town. However, the fairly new Virgin cinema is worth a visit, over a dozen huge screens, a bar, and a top quality premier screen - hide in here and avoid the town itself. This is far better than the old ABC cinema which is now defunct. Crawley is also however one of the few places in Sussex where you can take a driving test, and if you learn the many, many roundabouts, it should be fairly easy to drive around. The drivers aren't totally insane like they are in the Midlands for example. Instead of going to Crawley why not visit the near-by market town of Horsham, a multi 'britain in bloom' award winner, and much more pleasant. or alternativley take the five minute journey on the train to Gatwick airport and get out Britain. I do have to admitt that I haven't been to Crawley for a while, and it may have improved dramatically, so i welcome comments on what it is like now.
Recently i accompanied two of my cousins to Crawley to see a film. Whilst wandering around Crawley, waiting for the film to begin, my dreadlocked cousin had verbal abuse directed at him no fewer than 4 times. On three of these occasions, the neanderthal in question was wearing the 'uniform' of Ralf Lauren shirt, tucked into smart trowsers. This pretty much paints a picture of the center of Crawley. The rest is just low rise sprawl. If it's a choice between Portsmouth or Crawley then go to Crawley. Otherwise steer well clear. The Sussex countryside that surrounds Crawly is spectacular.
How many of you have been to crawley west sussex ??? Well if you have not you should come and visit . why?? Well where do i start the people are friendly whe have a huge town centre with a new shopping mall that has every thing you need , We have a new leisure park too and we have some of the best parks and gardens in the south east and if your flying out of Gatwick its on our door step We are half way between london and brighton so you have a great choice for days out come on give us a try .