Sutton High Street

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Sutton High Street
Sutton, Surrey London Sutton High Street -.JPG
A view of Sutton High Street within its Conservation Area section
Length 0.9 mi[1] (1.4 km)
Postal code SM1
north end Angel Hill
51°22′18″N 0°11′40″W / 51.3718°N 0.1945°W / 51.3718; -0.1945
south end Brighton Road
51°21′33″N 0°11′29″W / 51.3593°N 0.1913°W / 51.3593; -0.1913

Sutton High Street is a high street[2] running north-south through the town of Sutton in the London Borough of Sutton.

The High Street area constitutes the sixth most important retail centre in London, and is home to many restaurants and major retail names. It is pedestrianised for most of its length, and a conservation area runs down a three hundred yard section. There are three examples of public art in the street, and parks at either end of it.


Painting of The Cock Inn by Thomas Rowlandson in 1789.[3]
Milestone on Sutton High Street. This shows that Sutton is 11 miles by road from the administrative quarter of London (Whitehall) and 12 miles from the financial quarter (Royal Exchange)
The High Street in Christmas 1910
The London and Provincial Bank Building constructed in 1894 (today occupied by Barclays Bank)
The 1960s in the High Street twenty years prior to pedestrianisation

The section of road that is now Sutton High Street dates from the Middle Ages, and developed into part of the main road from London to Brighton. By the 18th century Brighton's popularity as a coastal resort was growing, and the route was well used, but not yet regularly maintained. This was put right in 1755 when the enacting of turnpike legislation provided a means for the road's better maintenance. This, combined with its intersection with the east-west Carshalton/Cheam Road, led to the development of a small settlement around the tollhouse in what is now the centre of the town.[4] By the beginning of the 19th century Sutton had become a fully-fledged village, and the road was dotted with a number of houses, pubs and shops from Sutton Green southwards up to the Cock crossroads.[5] The road was used frequently by the Prince Regent to access Sutton Lodge on Brighton Road, and, being the main route to Epsom Downs, it was also heavily used by visitors to the Epsom Derby. In 1801 the population of the town stood at 579, at that point lower than the other settlements in the borough. However, by 1861 it had risen enough to make Sutton the largest settlement in the borough.[4]

Their position on the London to Brighton turnpike provided the village's two large coaching inns, the Cock and the Greyhound, with trade serving coaches travelling through the village.[5] The Cock Hotel's sign straddled the Brighton road, and its proprietor was the champion pugilist, "Gentleman" Jackson.[3] The building was demolished in 1898, shortly after a new Cock Hotel had been constructed on a directly adjacent site to the north.[6] Its name originated from the cock horses needed along this part of the road. Twenty horse and carts passed up and down this stretch in a day. Regular contact beyond the town brought both expansion and sophistication. Small businesses opened up, at first directly related to travellers on the turnpike – bakers and brewers to feed visitors, seamstresses to provide running repairs, leather workers to make or mend harnesses – and then to provide trade goods for neighbouring communities.[7]

When the railway arrived, Sutton's people had become travellers themselves.[7] The population of Sutton grew and the village turned into a town.[5] The High Street near the top was known as Cock Hill until the 1880s – the shops on the east side were built in 1880, ten years later than those on the west side.[8]

A notatable building to appear around this time was the grand and decorative 1894 London and Provincial Bank building (now home to Barclays Bank), which stands over the historic crossroads. It is four storeys tall and forms a prominent landmark when arriving in the town centre from a westerly direction. There is a series of arches at ground level, and the main entrance is on the corner where the two roads meet, rounded in shape and surrounded by an ornate architrave and segmental pediment.[9][10][4]

By 1900 the High Street had become heavily built up.[5] By the late 1930s the shops had altered, but the buildings above remained much the same. One new building at this time was Ernest Shinner's new department store,[8] which replaced a Baptist church that had been built in 1886.[5] This later became Allders.

The oldest retail business currently operating in Sutton dates back to the 1860s – Pearson Cycles was originally a blacksmith shop, but in the 1890s changed to bicycle making and repair. The Pearsons have run the cycle business from the same High Street location ever since.[11]

Crossroads and conservation area[edit]

Pub sign in town centre historic crossroads
Crossroads: Sutton High Street in 1960 and 2011 at its junction with Cheam Rd / Carshalton Rd
The shop units (apart from Lloyds Banks) have changed hands and the High Street has been pedestrianised, but the buildings are the same then and now

The high street includes a conservation area, the Sutton Town Centre High Street Crossroads Conservation Area,[12] which was designated on 9 May 2011, following a review of the town centre, which highlighted the historic importance of the highway network at the crossroads of Cheam Road/Carshalton Road and the High Street, as well as the associated buildings and spaces. The conservation area focuses on the area around the historic crossroads, and stretches from the Station down to Trinity Square. The local authority noted that the buildings, especially their upper storeys, were worthy of preservation and enhancement.[12] Its report concluded that Conservation status was warranted on the basis of the historic importance of the area together with its architectural and aesthetic merit. The designation would enable the provision of guidance to landowners and developers on maintaining and improving the historic aspects of the area.[4]

Gordon Rookledge in his "Sutton Architectural Identifier" remarks on the "vivid, Victorian, polychrome brick and stone façades" in his description of Sutton High Street.[13]


Sutton High Street began as a shopping street in Victorian times, and Sutton town centre now has over four hundred retail outlets occupying more than 120,000 square metres of floor space.[14] It is London's sixth most important retail centre, and attracts shoppers from a wide area. It is often the chosen location for new retail ventures.[15] Many of the country's main High Street names are represented in the central area,[16] as are banks, building societies and estate agents.

Sutton High Street has in recent decades gained two covered shopping centres, both of which are situated in the central High Street area:

  • The larger of these is the St. Nicholas Centre, opened in 1992[17] with three main levels,[18] and five levels for Debenhams, the main anchor store[19] which opened in 2005 after the collapse of Allders.[20] It attracts an average of 20,000 visitors per day Monday to Sunday, 35,000 on Saturday, and twice this during December.[21]
  • Times Square is the smaller of the two.[22] It opened in 1985, and was granted planning approval for a refit in June 2014; work is currently underway, with completion expected in early 2015.[22] The refit is assessed as being a "high quality refurbishment scheme which will make a significant contribution towards the regeneration of this part of the Town Centre."[23] It is expected to attract further major high street names.[24]

Restaurants and bars[edit]

A Japanese restaurant in Sutton High Street

The Sutton High Street area also has a number of restaurants, patisseries, coffee houses, gastro pubs, clubs and bars, including the country's first branch of All Bar One.[25] The central area is pedestrianised, facilitating the setting up of outdoor tables by several establishments.

Sutton's range of restaurants has expanded in recent years, with culinary offerings from around the world including French, Spanish, British, Mexican, Malaysian, Thai, Pakistani, Portuguese, Turkish, Japanese, Italian, Indian and Chinese cuisine[26][27] These include a French restaurant which is listed in The Good Food Guide and is Michelin-listed.[28][29]

The Red Lion Pub

Rolling Stones gigs in High Street pub[edit]

There is a pub in Sutton High Street called the Winning Post, at the time known as the Red Lion, in which The Rolling Stones played several gigs and where they were spotted in 1963 by Giorgio Gomelsky,[30] a noted music manager, who was in the audience during a historic early gig there.[31][32][33] It was also at the Winning Post that, on 23 January 1963, Charlie Watts and Bill Wyman became permanent members of the band.[34]

In 2011, the Winning Post was added to a list of buildings and structures of local significance.[35][36]


The armillary in front of the Waterstones bookshop

There are a number of book retailers in the town centre including Waterstones. Its site once was an independent department store when it was built and opened by Ernest Shinner in 1935, and was taken over by Allders in 1979. Allders moved to the then new St Nicholas Centre in 1992.[11] This branch of Waterstones was the first to have a cafe installed.[37]

Public Art[edit]

Scene including the mosaic with Trinity Church behind

Sutton town centre features six major examples of public art, three of them in the High Street.

Main article: Sutton armillary

The "Millennium Dial Armillary" was dedicated to the town in the year 2000 by the Rotary Club. The Millennium Dial Armillary is a popular feature of the town and continues to provide an iconic focus for the town centre.[38] It was originally installed in the centre of a small "Millennium Garden", but was slightly re-positioned in 2011, since when it has stood on the edge of the new central square, directly in front of the Waterstones bookshop.

The other examples of public art in the High Street are building-height murals. One consists of a set of seven individual murals on a side wall depicting Sutton's European twin towns. The murals were designed and painted (on to plywood) by professional artists Gary Drostle and Rob Turner and were unveiled in 1993 to commemorate the 25th anniversary of Sutton's twinning with Wilmersdorf.

There is also the Heritage Mosaic measuring 9 metres (30 ft) high and 5 metres (16 ft) wide, and covering the whole of another three storey wall in the town square near the Waterstone's bookshop. Commissioned to celebrate Sutton's heritage, the Drostle and Turner mosaic was made from small tiles made of glass and clay, and put in place in 1994. It was designed by Rob Turner, and shows several aspects of Sutton's heritage and local history. The centre-piece is the depiction of Henry VIII's palace at Nonsuch.[39]


There are currently three large supermarket stores in the town centre, the two largest – Asda[40] and Morrisons[41] – at opposite ends of the High Street, whilst a large Marks and Spencer is at the midpoint of the High Street.[42]

Other features of interest[edit]

The Green Wall
Street performers in Sutton High St
Sutton Green as seen from above

As well as public art, there is a Green Wall, designed for aesthetics, to improve air quality and to encourage biodiversity. This "vertical garden" covers the façade of a large High Street store, and is in bloom all year round.[43]

The high street and town square also host street performers whose range includes live music, arts and theatre. In addition, markets are held from time to time, including French, Italian and Continental markets, as well as arts and crafts fairs.[16] In August and September the high street plays host to the outdoor "Sunset Cinema," where popular films are shown in the evening after the shops have closed to an audience seated in deckchairs.[44]

Sutton Green lies at the northernmost point of Sutton High Street, to the west of the street. Victoria Gardens also straddles the High Street, just to the south of Sutton Green.

Future development[edit]

A 2007 retail study found a need for 25% more retail floorspace as well as new mixed use development to accommodate office space, leisure, cultural and residential facilities.[45]

There is co-ordination among the businesses in the town centre in the form of a town centre manager, who works in partnership with local businesses, the police and transport providers to promote the centre and its future development.[46]

"Opportunity Sutton"[47] and Sutton Chamber of Commerce[48] also play a part in promoting future economic development in the town, which, prior to the current activity set out below, was characterised by developers as "one of London's hidden gems".

Sutton Point[edit]

CNM Estates are redeveloping a site formerly known as South Point at the southern end of the town centre, adjacent to the railway station. The new development to be known as "Sutton Point" will be for mixed use and include a hotel, a health club, apartments, shops, restaurants and offices.[49] The scheme will also include a car club to reduce the need for individual car ownership.[50] The scheme was granted planning approval in mid-2013, and work on-site started in Spring 2014.[51]

Old Gasworks (Sutton North Central)[edit]

Sutton High St near the northern end. The Old Gasworks site is 300 yards further north.

An initial public consultation took place in mid-2012 on plans by LXB Retail Properties Ltd for a further supermarket, a 123,270 sq ft branch of Sainsbury's,[52] in the town as part of a planned redevelopment of a large (6 acre), mainly disused site bordering the northern end of the High Street, which would also include homes, retail units, and a new public square, public art and a water feature.[53][54]

A public exhibition for the development (initially dubbed "Sutton North Central" but in later reports referred to as "The Old Gasworks")[55] was held in late autumn 2012, in conjunction with which plans of a more specific nature than previously, including indicative images, were made available. Slightly revised plans, taking account of suggestions from local residents and other local stakeholders, were released in June 2013. Following further revisions, a formal town planning application was submitted in October 2013 for an increased number of apartments, the large supermarket, a mix of retail units, public art and a landscaped square.[56] In December 2013 those plans were accepted in a council vote. Concerns were raised about the lack of affordable housing created within the plans.[55] Work on site commenced in Spring 2014 for what will constitute the biggest single regeneration of the town centre in a generation. 463 full time jobs will be created, when the project is completed in early 2016.[57]

Sutherland House[edit]

In addition, a planning application has been put in to redevelop the large Sutherland House office building in Brighton Road, just south of the railway station, into apartments, restaurants and cafés around an illuminated piazza.[58] The local council refused planning permission in 2013 over its concern about the lack of affordable housing. This refusal went to appeal, but was upheld by an inspector from central government. In 2014 the developers, Criterion Capital, having put in a revised application, decided instead to use the permitted development mechanism, which allows developments to go ahead providing they meet specific criteria.[59]


The former Sutton station ca. 1905
Taxis by Sutton station in 2012

The London to Brighton stagecoach began in 1760. The Cock Hotel in what is now Sutton High Street was the 9 a.m. breakfast stop for coaches leaving the city two hours earlier.[7] The railway arrived in 1847. Sutton railway station is at the southern end of the High Street and Sutton Common railway station just west of the Angel Hill footbridge. The fastest services from the former to London Victoria take 24 minutes.

There is a one-way system around the High Street and two main public car parks – Gibson Road[60] and Times Square[61] – with a third serving the St. Nicholas Centre.[62] The street is served by many buses, most of which are operated for Transport for London.[63] There are also express coach services to both London Heathrow and London Gatwick airports.[63][64]

As of mid-2014, a consultation was taking place into options for the route of a proposed Tramlink extension from Wimbledon to Sutton, with one option being to run the line down Sutton High Street.[65]


  1. ^ "Walking directions to High St/B2230". Google Maps. Google. Retrieved 27 April 2014. 
  2. ^ "Filmmaking renaissance for borough of Sutton". BBC. Retrieved 2 December 2013. 
  3. ^ a b Charles Harper (1922), The Brighton Road, Cecil Palmer, pp. 158–159 
  4. ^ a b c d "Sutton Town Centre High Street Crossroads Conservation Area". Planning and Transportation Service Environment and Leisure, London Borough of Sutton. 2011. Retrieved 26 November 2014. 
  5. ^ a b c d e London Borough of Sutton – Article
  6. ^ Skinner, Julia (2006). Did You Know? Sutton and Cheam - A Miscellany. The Francis Frith Collection. p. 11. ISBN 978-1-84589-525-9. 
  7. ^ a b c Goodwins, Sara (2004). Sutton Past and Present. Sutton Publishing. ISBN 0-7509-3424-7. 
  8. ^ a b Jones, Jane E M (2006). Sutton. Nonsuch Publishing. p. 15. ISBN 1-84588-324-1. 
  9. ^ Sutton Council document
  10. ^ Sutton Council conservation area document
  11. ^ a b "History of Sutton Town Centre". Retrieved 5 December 2013. 
  12. ^ a b London Borough of Sutton — Article
  13. ^ Rookledge, Gordon (1999). Rookledge's Architectural Identifier of Conservation Areas – Sutton Edition. Sarema Press (Publishers) Ltd. p. 30. ISBN 1-870758-05-6. 
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^ a b London Borough of Sutton – What Sutton Town Centre has to Offer
  17. ^ "St Nicholas Shopping Centre, Sutton, London". Criterion Capital. Retrieved 4 December 2013. 
  18. ^ "Unit 2.31, St Nicholas Shopping Centre Sutton". Nash Bond. Retrieved 4 December 2013. 
  19. ^ "Debenhams in Sutton". Debenhams. Retrieved 4 December 2013. 
  20. ^ "Debenhams buys 8 Allders stores". BBC. Retrieved 5 December 2013. 
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  22. ^ a b "Times Square Shopping Centre". Times Square, Sutton. Retrieved 4 December 2013. 
  23. ^ Sutton Modern Government
  24. ^
  25. ^ Mitchells and Butlers — All Bar One a history of the franchise
  26. ^ "Restaurants near Sutton (Surrey) Station – find the best restaurants near Sutton (Surrey) Station with Square Meal reviews". Retrieved 27 February 2014. 
  27. ^ "Sutton, United Kingdom Restaurants: See 82 restaurants with 1,343 reviews". TripAdvisor. Retrieved 27 February 2014. 
  28. ^ Carter, Elizabeth (2012). The Good Food Guide 2013. The Good Food Guide. p. 166. ISBN 978-1-84490-136-4. 
  29. ^ "Brasserie Vacherin ViaMichelin : Useful information and online user reviews". 4 October 2013. Retrieved 13 January 2014. 
  30. ^ Dr R F Schwartz. How Britain Got the Blues: The Transmission and Reception of American Blues Style in the United Kingdom. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. p. 149. 
  31. ^ London History Tours, Adrian Sill, Jeremy Tipton. "The Stones at the Red Lion". Retrieved 19 December 2013. 
  32. ^ "Pub home to music legends is preserved". Croydon Advertiser. 13 May 2011. 
  33. ^ Schwartz, R. F. (2013). How Britain Got the Blues: The Transmission and Reception of American Blues Style in the United Kingdom. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. ISBN 9781409493761. 
  34. ^ Ian McPherson. "Chronicle 1963". Retrieved 19 December 2013. 
  35. ^ "'Rolling Stones' pub joins heritage list (From Your Local Guardian)". 13 May 2011. Retrieved 15 February 2014. 
  36. ^ This is Croydon (13 May 2011). "A CELEBRATED music pub which helped the Rolling Stones on their road to fame will be preserved for posterity.". Croydon Advertiser. Retrieved 15 February 2014. 
  37. ^ "Waterstones rolls out Café W". PeachesReport. Retrieved 18 February 2014. 
  38. ^
  39. ^ Drostle and Turner fine tiles — Sutton Heritage page
  40. ^ "Asda Sutton Superstore". ASDA. Retrieved 4 December 2013. 
  41. ^ "Sutton Store details". Morrisons. Retrieved 4 December 2013. 
  42. ^ "Store Finder Results". Marks and Spencer. Retrieved 4 December 2013. 
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  44. ^
  45. ^ London Borough of Sutton — Businesses
  46. ^ London Borough of Sutton — Article
  47. ^ "Opportunity Sutton". Opportunity Sutton. Retrieved 19 December 2013. 
  48. ^ Sutton Chamber of Commerce – building local business
  49. ^ "CNM submits Sutton South Point redevelopment plans". Retrieved 5 December 2013. 
  50. ^ Sutton Point website
  51. ^ "Sutton station path to close next week as work starts on three town centre projects (From Sutton Guardian)". Retrieved 5 April 2014. 
  52. ^ "North Central, Sutton, Surrey, South East". Completely Retail. Retrieved 4 December 2013. 
  53. ^ London Borough of Sutton — Article
  54. ^ "North Sutton Sites Planning Brief (Supplementary Planning Document)". London Borough of Sutton. Retrieved 4 December 2013. 
  55. ^ a b "Sutton town centre gateway project the Old Gasworks given go-ahead". Newsquest. Retrieved 20 December 2013. 
  56. ^ "Plans submitted for regeneration of Sutton town centre". Newsquest. Retrieved 5 December 2013. 
  57. ^ London Borough of Sutton Press Release Feb 2014
  58. ^ Planning Application submitted in relation to Sutherland House, Sutton
  59. ^ "Developer pulls plans to improve town centre eyesore at the last minute (From Sutton Guardian)". Retrieved 23 January 2014. 
  60. ^ "Gibson Road". London Borough of Sutton. Retrieved 6 December 2013. 
  61. ^ "Times Square". London Borough of Sutton. Retrieved 6 December 2013. 
  62. ^ "Services". St. Nicholas Centre. Retrieved 6 December 2013. 
  63. ^ a b "Buses from Sutton" (PDF). Transport for London. Retrieved 7 December 2013. 
  64. ^ "A3" (PDF). Retrieved 8 December 2013. 
  65. ^

External links[edit]

Media related to High Street, Sutton, London at Wikimedia Commons