On March 23 1881, a little publication called the Simmins Weekly Advertiser was born.
It was staffed by one man and his dog, who would probably have laughed if some one had told them it would still be around 135 years later.
The Advertiser underwent many changes over the decades. In June 1882 it became the Sussex & Surrey Courier, in July 1946 it was the Crawley & District Observer, in January 1981 it adopted the title the New Crawley Observer, before the ‘New’ was dropped in 1983 to become the Crawley Observer.
The final change came when ‘Horley’ was added to the name.
No matter the masthead, no matter the year, there has never been a shortage of news in Crawley – and there’s never been a shortage of battles to fight, campaigns to launch and important local matters to tell you about.
There have been moments which made everyone on the team proud, such as fighting to make Worth Road safer, campaigning to keep schools and doctors’ surgeries open and persuading developers that they didn’t have to demolish every iconic building in the town just to throw up a glass and plastic office block that would probably stand empty for years.
We’ve brought you good news and bad, sang the praises of our local heroes and despaired of those who fell far short of the standards expected of them.
We’ve told you about national and international issues, which had rippled down to a local level, such as the death of King George VI, the Queen’s various jubilees, the terror attacks on New York and London and so many of our men and women heading off to war after war.
Speaking of which, a wry smile was shared while trawling through the archive to see how the outbreak of World War Two was dealt with in sleepy little Crawley.
Germany invaded Poland on September 1, triggering war, and the paper hit the shelves on September 2.
Unfortunately, the presses for that week had long since stopped rolling when the conflict began so the most eye-catching front page story in one of the most important weeks in history was that of a Police Constable who chased a man down the High Street at 3am to arrest him for stealing a bag of chickens!
Being around for 135 years means seeing the same problems, the same causes and the same battles coming round again and again.
Like any local newspaper worth its salt, the Observer has fought those battles with and for the community.
As the years pass, there will be many more campaigns to launch and many more opportunities to hold the powers that be to account.
In the meantime, enjoy some of these blasts from the past.
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