Crowle is a small town and civil parish on the Isle of Axholme in North Lincolnshire, England. It lies on the Stainforth and Keadby Canal and has a railway station. The town includes its suburb of Windsor.
A Vision of Britain through Time states that Crowle was located in the West Riding of Yorkshire until 1871. Once part of Lincolnshire, it was an urban district from 1894 until 1936 when it lost its urban district status and became a parish in the Isle of Axholme Rural District.
In 1974 the rural district was abolished and transferred to the new Boothferry District in the county of Humberside under the Local Government Act 1972. Since the demise of Humberside in 1996 it has been part of the unitary authority of North Lincolnshire.
The town declined in the late Middle Ages (14th and 15th centuries). Historians believe this could be for a number of reasons. The end of the warm climatic period resulted in an expansion of the marshland, with die-back of many trees on the wetter land. Two villages to the north, Haldenby and Waterton, were totally deserted in this period. Possibly the Black Death affected the town but what was probably more important was the switch of trade patterns; the fair declined and the growth of Hull may have pulled trade from Crowle as it did to Beverley. Silting of the River Don began to interfere with trade and shipping but was not corrected.
In the 1620s the Dutch engineer Vermuyden was hired by regional authorities to drain the land, turning a productive marsh-based peasant economy into a less productive arable system. It was not until the late 18th century that the land was drained properly.
Crowle, together with the whole of the northern part of the Isle of Axholme, thrived in the 19th century. Effective drainage, the steam pump, and warping the land (controlled flooding to deposit silt and nutrients) to increase fertility, resulted in better crops and a massive growth in population. Census records suggest some migration from outside the region, including an Irish population.
After 1870 the town went into a sharp decline, as foreign competition in the meat and corn markets was coupled with bad harvests and animal diseases. The population fell from about 3500 to 2500 in 1890.
Since the late 20th century, the town has had major expansion, with residential developments on Mill Hill, Wharf Road, Field Side and Godnow Road. Several infill redevelopments of old farm buildings in the older part of the town have occurred.
Lincolnshire is very low-lying and land had to be drained for agriculture to be successful. The larger drainage channels, many of which are parallel to each other, became boundaries between parishes. Many parishes are long and thin for this reason.
There is much fenland in Lincolnshire, particularly in the Boston and Horncastle areas. Fenlands tended to be extraparochial before the mid 1850s, and although many sections were identified with names and given the title "civil parish", little information has been found about them. Many appear to be abolished in 1906, but the parish which adopts them is not given in A Vision of Britain through Time. Note the WR category Lincolnshire Fenland Settlements which is an attempt to organize them into one list.
From 1889 until 1974 Lincolnshire was divided into three administrative counties: Parts of Holland, Parts of Kesteven and Parts of Lindsey. These formal names do not fit with modern grammatical usage, but that is what they were, nonetheless. In 1974 the northern section of Lindsey, along with the East Riding of Yorkshire, became the short-lived county of Humberside. In 1996 Humberside was abolished and the area previously in Lincolnshire was made into the two "unitary authorities" of North Lincolnshire and North East Lincolnshire. The remainder of Lincolnshire was divided into "non-metropolitan districts" or "district municipalities" in 1974. Towns, villages and parishes are all listed under Lincolnshire, but the present-day districts are also given so that places in this large county can more easily be located and linked to their wider neighbourhoods. See the WR placepage Lincolnshire, England and the smaller divisions for further explanation.