Tradition of auction at Long Sutton

Auction regularJohn Barton. Photo: SG100415-114TW
Auction regularJohn Barton. Photo: SG100415-114TW
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Ten pence bid, now 20, will anyone give me 20 pence for this dodgy 1970s video?

And that’s about as exotic or exciting as it’s likely to get on Fridays in Long Sutton market where the auction is held each week.

However, the street auction has been a traditional part of the market for so many years no one would be without it.

And besides, says Nick Grounds, who runs Clifford Cross Auctions Ltd at Wisbech, the whole proceedings are great fun, and add an element of entertainment to the weekly market.

Long Sutton resident John Barton (87) wouldn’t have it any other way.

He’s been visiting the weekly auction since he was a boy, when he would go with his father, who kept animals.

At that time there were live rabbits, ferrets, ducks, geese, chicken and pigs on sale.

Once an avid collector of farming implements, old tools and horse brasses, former arable farmer John kept up his interest in the auction over the years.

Now, he likes to go to buy fruit and vegetables, the section that kicks off the auction at noon.

Nick says the fruit and vegetables are supplied by small growers and smallholders and are sold before the auctioneer moves on to ceramics.

Nick jokes: “It’s the Recycling of Yoghurt Pots Society, because most of it comes in in yoghurt pots and old containers, so it is only ever going to appeal to the public, it’s not a trade thing.”

Richard Barnwell, a specialist antique and general auctioneer, is normally holding the gavel in the market, and Nick says: “I can’t say it’s that exciting, but it’s great fun. We are never going to make a lot of money out of it, but it provides entertainment.

“There are some wonderful characters that buy and sell and always one or two with a very good sense of humour, so it’s a lot of fun.

“Usually the most interesting things are when we get a lawn mower that makes £30.

“I haven’t had anything recently, but sometimes it’s the things you think are most hideous that end up making the most money. There’s an awful lot of dodgy videos and tapes from the ’70s, but nothing that is that unusual.

“There’s plenty of banter, and that’s the fun of it.”