People have lived in the area for hundreds of thousands of years but it became a permanent town by the time of the Saxons.
The town grew as an important centre for transport. After 1769, ships were able to use the river. It was a stagecoach stop for travel on the road between London and Cambridge. In 1842 the town got a railway station.
In 1901 there were 7,000 people living there, and by 1951 it was 13,000.
The town is popular for travellers to London because of the M11 motorway (an important road) and good train services to London. Stansted Airport has also caused development.