Crawley developed slowly as a market town from the 13th century, serving the surrounding villages in the Weald.
An area known as "New Town" (unrelated to the postwar developments) was created around the railway level crossing and down the Brighton Road; the West Green area, west of the High Street on the way to Ifield, was built up; and housing spread south of the Horsham line for the first time, into what is now Southgate.
The population reached 4,433 in 1901, compared to 1,357 a century earlier.
At first, little development took place in the town centre, and residents relied on the shops and services in the existing high street.
The earliest progress was in West Green, where new residents moved in during the late 1940s.
Eventually an annexe had to be built in the middle of the wide High Street; this survived until the 1930s.