cramley
The History of the Borough
The first recorded mention of Cramley can be found in the13th century Book of the Guild. It is recorded that Justine de Gascony gave the rights of settlers to farm teasels (which were used for the deballing of wool) in exchange for a tithe comprising ten percent of their income, livestock and produce. The foundations of de Gascony's semi-fortified keep were discovered whilst building the MGM Ciniplex in the 1970s.
coat of arms
Justine de Gascony's triple lion-headed coat of arms
Cramley Cross was a famous staging point around which grew a thriving trading community in the centuries which followed.

In the 1950s the then Poet Laureate John Betjeman wrote of Cramley in his collection of poems "Remembering The Nice Garden":

"This was once fecund and brambly
This sprawling concrete hell called Cramley
In the edifice of glass we find
The ant like municipal mind
Moving with a single purpose
To air condition and usurp us"

Betjeman's fear of the dehumanising consequences of post war renewal now seem unreasonably harsh as Cramley proved to be the most complete realisation of the vision to make a borough "fit for heroes". The slums which had grown around the Rivington Trouser Factory and Dye Works in the19th Century had been replaced by clean and sanitary living complexes, and along with this new way of living came a new prosperity.

The site of the old Cramley Cross saw the passage of through-trade and light industries and by the early 1960s Cramley had become the European premiere self storage site, the second largest manufacturer of trousers and the fourth largest manufacturer of industrial deep pan fryers with ground breaking work in the area of the design and manufacture of municipal vehicles.

It was in 1969 however that the fortunes of Cramley changed irrevocably after Tempex Explorations Ltd discovered England's first inland oil well. This created many new challenges which the borough council met with creative solutions. The five years that followed are described colloquially as "the gold rush years" in which a succession of councils, of differing political complexions, ensured that the community as a whole benefited from this "bonanza". The council's continued judicious and responsible stewardship of the benefits of this asset have served to improve the quality of life of the vast majority of rate payers and workers in the spheres of housing, education and health provision.

It is in this spirit of cognisance of the importance of life enhancement that the arts have always been given due respect and support. By the spring of 1994 it was apparent that the arts were becoming an increasingly important part of the life of Cramley and the Borough launched the Arts in Action Unit. The unit, working under the Cramley Leisure and Recreation Department, seeks to initiate and support artistic projects and to draw fresh talent and ideas into the borough which will facilitate our continued economic and cultural renewal.

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