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Crawley Museum is a must see – and it’s not just for locals

Crawley Museum officially opened its doors last weekend, and CN24 has been to check it out, as well as the highly anticipated exhibition on ‘The Cure’.

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The first thing you’ll learn about when you take a look around the newly opened Crawley Museum, is where the building gets its name from.

The building was named ‘The Tree’ in recognition of a huge elm tree that once stood beside it. The Crawley Elm reached at an estimated 140ft (40m) in its full glory and stood on Crawley green for over 400 years. Sadly, its life was completely ended in 1935 after an aggressive storm took down what remained.

More news: BELONGING Bandstand pops up in Crawley during tour of Sussex

I wasn’t sure what to expect from a local museum, my experience of them is quite limited, but in my mind all I could see was display cabinets with sheets of text attached and signs bearing the words ‘NO FLASH PHOTOGRAPHY’. Crawley Museum is very different.

Last weekend on Sunday (1 July), the museum officially opened. The opening was welcomed by a large number of locals – all watching as Crawley Mayor, Carlos Castro cut the ribbon.

Mayor of Crawley, Carlos Castro cuts the ribbon at the opening of Crawley Museum.

The ground floor is a hive of information. From facts about the Crawley Elm, Crawley in the present day, the town during Victorian times and during both World Wars. It also holds information on the history of Gatwick Airport including an original Skybirds model of ‘The Beehive Building’, the airport’s first commercial terminal building which opened its gates in 1936.

An original Skybirds model of ‘The Beehive Building’ at Gatwick Airport.

The ‘Crawley Voices’ exhibit has interactive telephones where people’s accounts of the World Wars can be heard.

There’s a feature on ‘Characters of Crawley’, showing the famous names that have come out of the town. This includes comedian Romesh Ranganathan, Gareth Southgate (yes the England coach who’s received praise all over the country for his gentlemanly behaviour after England’s recent victory against Colombia) and not forgetting Robert Smith, lead singer of The Cure.

A ‘Learning Space’ has been incorporated into the ground floor. This allows schools to have a dedicated area so students can feel a little more settled in a classroom environment.

Crawley Museum’s ‘Learning Space’.

On entry to the room on the first floor, tracks from The Cure’s 1989 album ‘Disintegration’ can be heard playing in the background. On one end of the room, a mock-up of a typical 80’s teen’s desk together with original issues of the Radio Times and various books from around the same time.

“The Cure was one of the soundtracks of my teenage years” – Crawley MP Henry Smith

Lyrics from The Cure’s ‘Friday I’m In Love’ can be seen written across a poster on the window.

The story of The Cure lead singer Robert White’s teeth sparked a reaction from the band’s drummer and founding member Lol Tolhurst on Twitter.

Teeth like the set on display were found in a cupboard in Hazelwick School.

The tweet reads: “@CrawleyMuseum Congratulations and thank you for you Cure exhibition. I know Cure fans will be happy. I had forgotten about the teeth!”

One Twitter user replied to the drummer’s post, saying they hade travelled from Belgium to visit the museum.

The exhibition has many areas for visitors to share their own experiences and memories of The Cure in guest books. One comment featured on the wall comes from the town’s MP, Henry Smith.

He said:

“The Cure was one of the soundtracks of my teenage years and as Crawley’s MP now I am proud that the town has just a fantastic cultural legacy which has gone global.”

A poster showing the line-up for Glastonbury 1986 – featuring The Cure, Madness, The Housemartins and even classical composer John Williams!

A place for all music lovers has been included to share ‘what music means to me’. Visitors can write on a card what they feel music means and these can be looked through by others. This gives the whole exhibition a more inclusive feel; it means those who may be unfamiliar with The Cure’s work can still appreciate the spirit of the experience.

Andrea Dumbrell, Learning and Liaison Officer at Crawley Museum said:

“It’s great to finally be open to the public. People are really enjoying looking around and finding out more about the history of Crawley. They’re also sharing their memories and knowledge with us so we’re finding out more too!

“The Cure exhibition took a couple of months to plan and create. We’re really grateful to the people who leant us objects and shared their stories with us.

“Our next exhibition in August is on ‘Memories of Crawley’ and our September exhibition is on ‘Working Life.’ We’d love to hear from anyone who wants to contribute to these.”

Crawley Museum is fantastic fun and full of information. It has a modern feel to it, which is odd when you find out how old the building is. There’s no doubt in my mind that this place will become a real staple in a great community. I look forward to my next visit!

Don’t forget that entry to the museum is free, but donations are gladly accepted.

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Business

‘It’s not nearly enough funding’ warns Crawley Council as business grant applications open

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Eligible businesses can now apply for the latest round of business grants but Crawley Borough Council says the funding is not nearly enough.

Despite Crawley being responsible for 25 per cent of the economic output in West Sussex, it has been given some of the lowest grant funding in the county.

The government has given the council £3,733,396 made up of:

  • £1,485,216 in Local Restrictions Support Grant to distribute to businesses that pay business rates and have had to close during the second lockdown
  • £2,248,180 in Additional Restrictions Grant, which is given to businesses that don’t pay business rates and have been affected by the lockdown but not legally required to close.

Out of seven local authorities in West Sussex, only one received less than Crawley’s combined grants figure. Five councils received more.

The Additional Restrictions Grant is based on £20 per person in Crawley rather than the number of businesses in the town. This means that Arun District Council, for example, has received £3,215,160 due to a larger population but smaller economy.

And only one council in West Sussex received less than Crawley across both rounds of grant funding in April and November. Crawley received a total of £17,167,646. The highest – Chichester District Council – received £43,739,396.

In the first round of grants earlier this year only 23 per cent of Crawley businesses received financial help from the government.

Councillor Peter Lamb, Leader of the Council, said:

“The pot of grant funding provided by the government is very limited and does not recognise the number of businesses we have in Crawley.

“The way the grant settlement is calculated – on population and not on the size of the economy – means we have to turn most businesses away, while other councils have millions to spare. This is causing major hardship at a time when Crawley is already the hardest-hit economy in the UK.”

Businesses that have had to close during the second lockdown can apply for a Local Restrictions Support Grant by visiting https://grantapproval.co.uk

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