The central district of the Crofts is now almost forgotten. You may be forgiven if this once
thriving neighbourhood is unknown to you, as much of its industry and dilapidated housing has
long since disappeared. If we turn the clock back far enough, however, this area was well
known – but for all the wrong reasons.
From being a quiet backwater in the early 18th century with a scattering of cottage industries,
it was propelled into a toxic mix of workshops, warehouses and heavy industry. All this
alongside domestic housing, which was needed to accommodate the many workers and their
families. Some of those who settled here had come in search of a better life; a place to live,
work and prosper. In reality what they found was sometimes worse than the life they had left
behind. By the mid 19th century the district had become a neighbourhood of evil smelling
streets where so many had to struggle with the rigours of poverty, sickness and early death.
With its warren of dark, narrow lanes and courts it gained a reputation for prostitution and
criminality. Eventually, after falling into a spiral of decay, the district became synonymous with
all that was wretched within the town.