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.
The Recent History:
Since 2010, The Old Market has been owned and managed by Steve McNicholas and Luke Cresswell. Local residents, the pair are creators and directors of the global hit show STOMP. In fact, The Old Market played a key role in STOMP’s conception; it was the very first place Steve and Luke worked together. In order to create a venue comfortable for audiences and suitable for performers, Steve and Luke invested in various upgrades to the building’s interior. A lighting rig was tucked above our Main House’s original wooden beams, an automated ‘raked’ seating unit installed to improve audience viewpoints, and the bar refurbished as a brighter and more inviting space. Refreshed and fit for purpose, The Old Market reopened in May 2011. To reflect its new lease of life, it was christened with the new nickname, TOM. To date, we’ve had well over 2,000 different performances here at TOM, with prestigious acts having graced the stage in recent years including Michael McIntyre, Spymonkey and Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes to name but a few, alongside regular festivals including Brighton Festival, Brighton Fringe and #TOMtech, the future is looking bright. Fond memories are a pleasure matched only by hunger for more!