With a population of nearly 100,000 Crawley is the biggest settlement in West Sussex, although Brighton, which lies on the East Sussex border with West Sussex is the number one city in the whole of Sussex with over 150,000 people.
Crawley was one of the new towns created by the New Towns Act of 1946.
For most of its history prior to 1946 Crawley had led a quiet but comfortable life.
There is evidence of settlement here right back to the Stone Age and there is plenty of evidence of iron age man in the Crawley area, including a camp at Goff’s Park.
Post Norman texts named the place Crauleia, Crawele and Croule - so who says bad spelling in texts is a modern phenomenon.
In 1203 Crawley started to hold a market.
Later it became a busy staging post on the London to Brighton Road. There are still several interesting old buildings in the High Street which date, in part, from the middle ages.
Advances in the Wealden iron industry brought relative wealth in the 16th century and then the industry died away as technology moved on.
The railway’s arrival gave Crawley a boost in the second half of the nineteenth century, with as much as a quarter of the town's workforce working in for the railway at one point.
But 100 years ago Crawley's population was little more than 4,000 - a small fraction of today's number.
The New Town Act changed Crawley forever, turning it into the bustling commercial centre it is today.
There are now 13 neigbourhoods in Crawley:
West Green, Northgate, Langley Green, Three Bridges, Pound Hill, Ifield, Tilgate, Southgate, Gossops Green, Furnace Green, Broadfield, Bewbush and Maidenbower.
Much of the town's employment is derived from the demands of Gatwick Airport and the travel industry in general.
Crawley has three Grade I listed buildings. These are the parish church of St Margaret in Ifield, the parish church of St Nicholas, Worth, and the Friends Meeting House in Langley Lane, Ifield.
Crawley AttractionsWhile it's true that Crawley is not as pretty as most of West Sussex, it still has its attractions.
Crawley, like all the new towns, has plenty of open space, including Tilgate Park, which includes a nature centre and large swathes of lovely woodland.
The different public spaces are linked by the Crawley Millennium Greenway, - essentially a grandly named cycle path - but a fine leisure facility nonetheless.
Just outside the southern edge of Crawley Buchan Country Park is a large area of woodland and heathland carved out of St Leonard's Forest and a good place for a walk and a breath of fresh air.
Tilgate Forest has a part in the history of paleontology by the way - it was here that Lewes doctor and part time dinosaur hunter Gideon Mantell discovered many of his finest specimens in the 1820s.
Crawley is also a major regional shopping centre and contains good sports and leisure facilities including nightclubs, the Hawth theatre and the newish K2 sports centre.
What's on in CrawleyFind out what's on in and around Crawley with our guides to
Things to do in CrawleySee our listings of clubs, societies and things to do in Crawley for ideas about how to make best use of your leisure time in Crawley.
Crawley sports clubsAs befits such a large town, there's a top class range of sports facilities and sports clubs in Crawley including Crawley Town F.C., West Sussex's most successful football club at present.
Where to stay in CrawleyShort term hotel accommodation is a thriving industry in and around Crawley and Gatwick Airport and there's a huge choice of hotel accommodation in the Crawley area as a result, including some large hotels at Gatwick Airport itself.
The area around Crawley has a plethora of places offering cheap bed and breakfast for Gatwick Airport travellers too and you can get bed and breakfast with airport parking and shuttle rides at many Crawley B&Bs.
Places to visit near CrawleyWakehurst Place is a fine garden run by the brains at Kew Garden. Wakehurst Place houses the Millennium Seed Collection.
Other top gardens south of Crawley include High Beeches and Nymans.
Towns near CrawleyHorsham