1. Crawley History
  2. Industrial History
  3. Industries in Crawley

Industries in Crawley: A Brief History

Explore the rich industrial history of Crawley and learn more about the businesses and industries that have flourished in the area over the years.

Industries in Crawley: A Brief History

Crawley has a long and fascinating history of industries that have shaped its landscape over the years. From its beginnings as an agricultural market town in the Middle Ages, Crawley has become an important industrial hub, with a wide variety of industries ranging from traditional manufacturing to more modern technology. In this article, we'll take a brief look at the various industries that have formed the backbone of Crawley's economy over the centuries, and how they have evolved over time.

Industries in Crawley:

The first industry to be established in Crawley was agriculture, with the area having been used for farming since the Middle Ages. The town developed into a market town during this period, with farmers selling their produce to merchants and other traders in the area.

This led to a number of small businesses being established in the town, such as butchers, bakers and other shops. As Crawley grew in size and importance, it began to attract larger businesses and industries. The first of these was coal mining, which began to take place in the early 19th century. This industry soon grew to become one of the largest employers in the area, providing jobs for hundreds of local people.

The coal mines also provided an important source of income for many families in Crawley. The next major industry to be established in Crawley was engineering. This began in the late 19th century, when several large factories were built in the area. These factories produced a range of products, including cars, engines and other machinery.

This industry played an important role in the growth of Crawley, providing jobs for thousands of local people. In more recent years, Crawley has seen a number of new industries established in the area. These include pharmaceuticals, electronics and food processing. These industries have helped to diversify the local economy and provide employment for many people in the area.

Finally, Crawley has seen a number of new technologies and industries emerge over the past few decades. This includes information technology, digital media and telecommunications. These sectors have helped to further develop the local economy and provide new opportunities for businesses and individuals.

Pharmaceuticals & Electronics

Over the last few decades, Crawley has become an increasingly important center of industry, with pharmaceuticals and electronics becoming key sectors.

Pharmaceuticals have been a major contributor to the local economy since the 1950s, as Crawley is home to several major drug companies. These companies have helped to create jobs and investment in the area, while also providing essential medicines for local people. Electronics has also become an important industry in Crawley, with many large companies setting up factories in the town. These businesses have helped to provide employment for many local people, while also bringing in valuable investment. The impact of these industries on the local economy has been significant.

They have provided much-needed jobs and investment in Crawley, while also helping to raise living standards. The pharmaceuticals sector in particular has helped to make medical care more accessible to local people, while the electronics industry has helped to make Crawley a major center of innovation. As these industries continue to grow, they are likely to bring even more benefits to Crawley and its residents.

Coal Mining

During the 19th century, coal mining became an important industry in Crawley. Coal was a vital source of energy for the industrial revolution, and this meant that the demand for it was high.

Consequently, coal mining expanded in Crawley to meet this demand. The coal industry brought a number of benefits to the local economy, creating jobs and providing a source of income for many people in the town. The coal mines in Crawley were initially located close to the surface and were relatively easy to access. As demand increased, deeper mines were opened up and new technologies were developed to improve efficiency.

This allowed more coal to be mined and transported more easily, helping to increase production and profits. The growth of the coal industry was also linked to the development of railway lines in the area. This allowed the coal to be transported more quickly and easily, boosting the local economy even further. In addition, other industries such as iron and steel, which used coal as a fuel source, also benefited from the new railway lines. Today, coal mining in Crawley is no longer an important industry.

Over time, the demand for coal has decreased as more efficient sources of energy have been developed. This has resulted in many of the old coal mines being closed down or abandoned, leaving behind a legacy of industrial history.


Since the late 19th century, engineering has been an important industry in Crawley. This industry has had a major impact on the local economy, creating employment opportunities and helping to shape the town into the vibrant hub it is today. In the 19th century, Crawley was home to a number of engineering-related industries, such as ironworks, foundries, and machine shops.

These businesses provided much-needed employment opportunities for local people. They also helped to stimulate the local economy by supplying goods and services to other areas of West Sussex and beyond. The arrival of the railway in the 19th century also had a major impact on Crawley's engineering industry. As the railway expanded into the area, so too did the number of engineering-related businesses that were set up to service it.

This included companies that manufactured locomotives and carriages, as well as those that provided maintenance and repair services. In more recent times, engineering in Crawley has diversified to include a range of new industries. These include chemical engineering, aerospace engineering, and automotive engineering. These industries have enabled Crawley to become a major player in the global engineering market, helping to create jobs and economic growth in the area. Overall, engineering has been an important industry in Crawley for over a century.

It has helped to shape the town's economy and create employment opportunities for local people. While its role has evolved over time, engineering continues to be an important part of Crawley's history and its future.


Agriculture has been a part of the Crawley landscape since its earliest days and is one of the oldest industries in the area. Farming was an important source of income for many families in the area and the local economy was heavily reliant on agricultural produce. Crawley had a thriving agricultural sector which included dairy farming, arable farming, horticulture and animal husbandry.

The area was also well known for its sheep farming, which provided wool for the textile industry. The agricultural industry had a significant impact on Crawley's economy, providing employment for many locals and contributing to the local economy in terms of food production and trade. Over time, Crawley's agricultural industry has evolved and changed in response to technological advancements, new trends in farming methods, and the changing demands of the local population. In recent years, there has been a shift away from traditional agricultural practices, with increased investment in sustainable farming techniques such as organic farming and permaculture. The evolution of Crawley's agricultural industry has been driven by both external and internal factors. Externally, technological advancements have had a major impact on modern farming practices, while internally, changes in consumer demand have led to the development of new crops and techniques.

As a result, Crawley's agricultural industry is now more diverse than ever before, with a range of different crops and products being produced.

Information Technology & Telecommunications

In recent years, information technology and telecommunications have become important industries in Crawley. These industries have had a significant impact on the local economy, providing employment opportunities and economic growth. In addition, the rise of these industries has meant that Crawley has become an important hub for the IT and telecommunications sectors in the UK. The introduction of broadband internet to Crawley in 2008 was a key moment in its history as it allowed businesses in the area to access faster internet speeds than ever before.

This allowed them to remain competitive in an increasingly digital world and also opened up opportunities for remote working. Furthermore, the development of new technologies, such as 5G internet, has further enhanced Crawley's ability to remain at the forefront of the IT and telecommunications sectors. The growth of these industries in Crawley has also had other positive impacts on the local economy. Companies such as BT, Vodafone and Virgin have all set up operations in the area, providing a range of employment opportunities. This has helped to increase the town's population and boost its overall wealth. As technology continues to develop, it is likely that information technology and telecommunications will remain important industries in Crawley.

These industries will continue to provide employment opportunities and help to drive economic growth in the area. Furthermore, the development of new technologies will open up further opportunities for businesses operating in the area. This article has explored some of the different industries that have been established in Crawley throughout its history. From agriculture to engineering to information technology and telecommunications, these industries have all played an important role in shaping the local economy and providing employment opportunities for many people in the area. As Crawley continues to evolve, these industries are likely to continue to grow and develop.