LOOKING BACK: By Long Sutton Civic Society
None of us are getting any younger and what is true for people is also true for our properties. Buildings, like us , go through life stages with eventual decrepitude, and demise. This is not so much to do with the condition of the bricks and mortar, but usually because they become obsolete because of changing public tastes, costs of running them, or their inability to accommodate change.
A relatively young building can become obsolete quite quickly. Just think of all those concrete monstrosities put up in the 1960s and 70s that were intended to last for a century or more but saw an early demise thanks to changing public tastes, technological change or dodgy construction techniques leaving them too expensive to maintain.
Some buildings, though, last for centuries. Their design lends itself to regular refurbishment to keep up with changing tastes and uses and their appearance remains relevant to the ever-changing streetscene. They become points of reference for communities, A constant in an ever-changing world, repositories of memories for generations of townsfolk.
Eventually though even these icons run out of time. Hundreds of churches across the UK, for example, have become redundant in the last half century in the move away from Christianity and either found other uses or fallen into decay.Historic coaching inns, such as the Bridge Hotel in Sutton Bridge and the Bull Hotel in Long Sutton, cornerstone buildings in these towns, have been long empty and awaiting redevelopment, victims of changed public tastes and the transport revolution.
There has been a lot of discussion and anguish amongst local people about the decay of these two buildings. Both are now derelict, have suffered recent fires and are in urgent need of attention. Both blots on the landscape.
A new design for the replacement of the Bridge Hotel proposes new apartments. The rebuilt elevations will have a superficial resemblance to the old place but the memories of the building in its heyday, with receptions, parties and events, at the heart of the community, will be lost forever, with only a few old photographs to remind us how it used to be. What will become of the Bull remains to be seen.
Should we be maudlin about this? Places change constantly to keep up with population, work, transport and shopping requirements. What we need to make sure is that whatever replaces our High Street icons are buildings of the highest possible quality and appearance. Buildings our successors will cherish as much as we have cherished those that were built by our forefathers.
• What are your memories of the two hotels? Email your thought and/or pictures to firstname.lastname@example.org