Built as part of Charles Busby’s prestigious Brunswick Town development, The Old Market has been a stables, riding school, smokery and studio over its long history.
Construction & Early Days:
Our building dates back to 1826-8, when Charles Busby erected a market at the heart of his grand Brunswick Town construction. Although the building has been enlarged over the years, our wonderful Main House retains many of Busby’s original features; from its iconic arches to elegant wooden roof beams.
Riding Academy & Stables:
As a market, the building’s success was limited. Immediately overshadowed by a competing market in central Brighton, it was soon repurposed as a riding academy. An imposing North wall – our main entrance – was installed to add interior space and provide a striking arrival.
Believe it or not (we prefer not) ghostly sounds of clomping hooves have been said to haunt modern day inhabitants. We do know that equestrians found their way into every corner of the building, with polo games conducted where we now host gigs, and large ramps leading to stables – one of which is now our office – on all four floors. So, when you visit us, bear in mind that you’re following in the hooves of horses.
Seeking New Useage:
As demand for riding declined, The Old Market sought new usage. For a time, the building acted as a warehouse for food storage, even featuring its very own bacon smokery. Yet with tastes for period architecture heightening, locals desired a more fitting use for The Old Market. In 1970, discussions arose about artistic uses for the building; specifically, as a theatre.
Becoming A Theatre:
Beginning in 1980s, this artistic vision began to be realized. Much of the building’s infrastructure, which today enables us to stage our shows, was installed and upgraded during this time. Of particular note, an entirely new roof was built, well above the original wooden beams, affording our Main House a breathtaking acoustic.
Operating under various managements and names, The Old Market acted as recording studio, performance space and venue for a wide range of artists.
Then in 2010 The Old Market was purchased by local residents, long-time admirers of the building, and creators of STOMP, Steve McNicholas and Luke Cresswell. You can read more about 2010-Present in the second part of this history.
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