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Great Crosby was a small village of Viking origin until the arrival of the railway in the 1840s. The village grew rapidly during the late 19th and early 20th century and merged with a number of distinct areas with their own character, to form the Great Crosby urban district. These areas included:

Crosby Village, the main area for shopping, pubs and restaurants
Blundellsands, a middle class residential area close to the seafront
Brighton-le-Sands
Thornton, a residential area of semi-detached and detached housing which dates mainly from the 1930s.

The Great Crosby urban district annexed Little Crosby in 1932. In 1937, the district was combined with the Waterloo with Seaforth urban district to form the municipal borough of Crosby which was in turn was absorbed into the new Metropolitan Borough of Sefton on 1 April 1974. These boundary changes defined the town of Crosby in its modern borders and shrank down the modern area of Great Crosby from the old urban district, making it an area of the modern town of Crosby which today is a separate area of Crosby to Blundellsands, Brighton-le-Sands, and Thornton.