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Horley's History

High Street, Horley, SurreyHigh Street, Horley, Surrey


By 1812 with a population of a little under 1000, the huge common was enclosed. New roads were planned and the intervening land sold. However, Horley changed little even when two of its planned roads were turnpiked, one in 1809 and the other in 1816, to allow regular stage coach services to operate between London and Brighton.


In 1841, the railway was laid across the common and the first Horley station came into operation to serve its population that had by then reached 1500. From that location and from that date, the town of Horley grew steadily to a population of around 8000 by 1940. Whereas agriculture was its main industry prior to World War II, it changed rapidly after to become a dormitory town for London commuters and a place to house the growing workforce, and associated businesses, of Gatwick Airport. From its humble beginnings in 1930 as a recreational airfield, Gatwick first became a continental airport with its own terminal (now listed) building in 1936. Today, it is the UK's second largest airport and before September 2001 it was handling some 30 million passengers a year.


Depite the fact that Horley is now mainly a residential town with business services and some light industry alongside Gatwick Airport, it is still situated within pleasant rural surroundings from which it originally evolved. Something its population remains keen to safeguard.