Sutton: The railway makes a town
In 1841 Sutton had a population of 1,304, a little larger than Cheam but much smaller than Carshalton.
Steam train, Sutton Station, 1902
The village was rather thinly spread along the High Street from the Cock cross-roads down to the Green.
The railway station was opened in 1847 when the West Croydon to Epsom line was built. The station was just beyond the southern edge of the village. In the late 18th century two large inns provided coaching stops on the main Brighton Road. Much of this traffic was diverted from the town when the Croydon - Reigate turnpike was opened in 1807, but this does not seem to have stopped Sutton's growth and the population rose steadily through the first half of the 19th century.
The construction of the Banstead Branch in 1865 turned Sutton into a junction and connections improved when the Carshalton, Hackbridge and Mitcham Junction line was opened in 1868. Sutton grew rapidly in the second half of the 19th century. By 1901 it had a population of 17,223 and was undoubtedly a small town and not a village. The area was popular with upper middle class commuters who often worked in the city which was then at the height of its prosperity and international influence.
Commuting was made easier by the electrification of the railways in the first half of the 20th century. The local rail network was completed by the construction of the Sutton Wimbledon line which was opened in 1930.
In the 19th and early 20th centuries the railways were also important for carrying goods.