The branch of the Midland Railway Company from Walsall to Water Orton was opened in 1879, with stations at Sutton Park and Midland Drive. The route had been surveyed in detail in 1871, and the survey shows the properties that would be affected by the new railway. The line passes through Sutton Park (in spite of fierce opposition from Suttonians), where sufficient bridges and crossings had to be made so that cattle and people could roam freely over the Park. Sutton racecourse had to be moved away from the Park to Four Oaks because the railway would cut it in half.

Land next to the Park belonged to the Corporation of Sutton, where Tudor Road and Richmond Road had been set out. Richmond Road extended as far as Mulroy Road, and gas pipes had been laid beneath it, but instead of making a bridge the Railway Company severed the road and made Sutton Park Station and goods yard at this point. Further along towards Sutton was the newly-constructed Anchorage Road (also with gas pipes), where the line would be in a deep cutting, making a bridge easy to build. Another short road, leading from Lichfield Road to Anchorage Road, disappeared without trace when the line was made.

The next property to be threatened was Louisa Smith’s house on High Street, a house with bay windows overlooking the pavement; the railway cutting passed through gardens next to this house, which survived the railway only to be demolished in the next century. The line passed beneath Lichfield Road, described as a turnpike road in 1871 though by the time the railway opened in 1879 .it had been disturnpiked. Two properties on the other side of the road could not be avoided, however - when they were auctioned in December 1868 they were advertised as:-

“All that excellent and substantially erected three-storey Family Residence in the occupation of Miss Holbeche containing Entrance Hall, Dining, Drawing and Breakfast Rooms of good dimensions; back and second Kitchens China and Cook’s Pantry, seven bedrooms and dressing room, good dry cellars, brewhouse yard and outbuildings, large garden, orchard, lawns, and pleasure grounds. Also a capital Malthouse occupied by William Wilkins, the whole possessing an important frontage of 42 yards 1 foot 6 inches”

At this house lived Sarah Holbeche and her four sisters, and they continued as tenants after the sale under their new landlord Mr. Barrows, but later in the 1870s the house was due to be demolished and the sisters moved away from Sutton. These were the only two properties directly affected by the line, which now passed through the long back gardens of the High Street houses. A little further on the Midland Railway Co. made their main Sutton Town station, and some more High Street properties were demolished for the access road, Midland Drive.

High Street in the 1850s. The malthouse on the left, with its wooden fence, and the ivy-clad house beyond where the Miss Holbeches lived, were both demolished to make way for the railway, but the low building to the left lasted another 100 years. (picture courtesy of Sutton Reference Library)