The period of 1830 to 1870 was a flourishing time for Long Sutton and the Market House and Corn Exchange were built during this exciting period. The Industrial Revolution was bringing increased demands and opportunities.
The River Nene had been recently extended from Four Gotes to Crab Hole, a channel of 8 miles and allowed a large area of marshland to be brought into safe cultivation. A new crossing was established at Sutton Bridge and by the mid 1860s the railways had arrived. Long Sutton was now on a main trade route into East Anglia and prosperity beckoned. The increase in trade encouraged some forward looking Long Suttonians to provide a place to market local produce and a Corn Exchange to trade grains and pulses. A ‘handsome building’ was opened ‘with gatherings and amusements’ there was ‘great enthusiasm’ in the town of Long Sutton and it took its place as ‘the Pride of the Low Country’.
From 1857 Market Street and the Market House building became the hub of Long Sutton economic life. The building was designed by Bellamy and Pearson of Lincoln. A daily market took place of butter, milk, eggs and poultry. On Market day itself many types of stock were brought to the Market held in Market Street. Merchants from far and wide came to procure all kinds of farm produce. The London markets were only a few hours away by the new railway system and horticultural crops were beginning to be grown. At the time of their inception the buildings were also designed for the social and educational needs of the community. The local Magistrates met in the upper room of the Market House. It was also the place where all political meetings took place during elections times and was also used as the Polling Station.
On the entertainment front there were popular travelling shows such as ‘Mr Greenhead’ along with boxing matches and minstrel shows. Local groups were meeting for musical entertainment, performing music from shows that had only recently arrived on the London stage. These shows were used to raise large amounts of money for local charities, to be given back to the community. The Long Sutton Agricultural society used the Market House for shows and meetings. The Market House was also a place for education with the Night school advertising that it was more shameful not to be able to read and write than to be seen at one of their classes.
From the 1920s the buildings became less utilised. Agriculture was particularly hard hit economically and now the needs of the community were being met in new ways. The property became a show room for cars – then a garage aptly named the Exchange Garage and in the last 20 years of the 20th Century the workshop of Long Sutton stone mason, Glynn Edwards
In 1999 a group of local citizens commenced the process of bringing back the buildings into Community use. The site was bought by South Holland District Council as part of a Rural Action Zone Project. A lot of support was provided by Long Sutton Parish Council, South Holland District Council, Lincolnshire Development and East Midlands Development. A new company was formed called the Long Sutton Market House Trust. This company is the tenant of No 9 Market Street.
Soon after the creation of the company, a group called the Friends of the Market House was formed under the chairmanship of David Wilson. The Friends is a working group of Long Sutton citizens, who enthusiastically believe in the new community project. They are responsible for promoting and raising funds for the project and supporting the hard working Trustees- as did their forebears before them. The historic wheel has turned full circle!