Slideshow: Smile! Those really were the best years of your lives!

Ah, childhood! Those long ago days which we all look back on with the rosiest of rose-coloured glasses.

They may well have been the best days of our lives but we must remember that those were the times when our parents took embarrassing photos and made us dress up in silly clothing and take part in the oddest of events.

Crawley History: Children

Crawley History: Children

Take the picture of the four youngsters from 1897, who were dressed to the nines to celebrate Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee.

Do they look happy? They do not. And you can bet that, once they reached adulthood, the kilts, cloaks and frilly dresses were the first things to go in the bin.

According to the photo information, the children lived in Hazeldene, Brighton Road, with their parents Moses and Ruth Nightingale. The girl on the left was dressed up as Britannia.

Moses was a renowned local businessman and founded the Fillery & Nightingale Corn & Coal Merchants. Nightingale House was built where the merchants used to stand, close to the level crossing.

Crawley History: Children

Crawley History: Children

All these pictures come courtesy of West Sussex Past Pictures ( and they detail the changing lives of Crawley children down the years – and one highlights another event which shaped the world beyond our town.

Some of the children waiting to board a train in the photo taken c1940 look happy and excited and seem oblivious to the fact that they were being evacuated for their own safety during the Second World 

But war was the last thing on the minds of the children in the rest of these pictures – for them life was all about scouts and guides, playgorunds and sports days.

The picture of the First Worth Scouts was taken in Crawley Down c1920. Can anyone name any of them?

The Girl Guides were photographed c1930 and their numbers included: Joyce Hunter, Yvonne Peters, Elizabeth Roberts, Pauline Stolant, Eileen Jackson, Janet Roberts, Jean King, Daphnie Withers, Honar Spree, Cecilia Bradpool, Elaine Randle, Joyce Wales, Elenor Webber, Hazel Yetman, Gladys Hunter, Miss Stanford, Jessie Standing, Molly Miles, Barbara Parmell, Betty Musselbrod, Betty Hunter, Jean Overton, Maud Groom, Joan Ayling, Betty Mills, Rosemary Knight and Ann Brinkler.

The spelling of some of these names is uncertain – can anyone correct any errors?

Jumping forward to 1962 we have six lads who really need to read the health and safety manual when it comes to playground equipment!

They were playing on the swings in Three Bridges recreation park and are named as: Bryan Bevan, Alan Knight (who later went on to manage Three Bridges FC and died in 2008), Frank Barwick, John Johansson, Tony Holley and David Edwards.

Do you recognise any of the children in these photos? What was it like growing up in Crawley before and after the birth of the new town?