We've decided to get to know some of our local business partners a bit better - and today we speak to Rob Marks from Ghost Walk of The Lanes...

Photo of Rob Marks from Brighton's Ghost Walk of The Lanes

  • Tell us about yourself and how you started Ghost Walks

For many years I was a teacher of drama and theatre studies working in primary education, senior schools, arts centres, drama and dance schools, and adult education. However, my first venture into theatre was at the Cockpit in Marylebone, where I worked in drama workshop, production and theatre in education.

I first became involved in telling tales of the paranormal whilst living and teaching in the City of York.  Having been approached by a tour company I researched, scripted, produced and performed in what became known as The Ghost Cruise that was played out nightly aboard their river cruisers.

However, I had always harboured affection for Brighton and had been visiting since the mid-1960s. When I retired from teaching twelve years ago I finally made the move. Whilst searching for a property I discovered a book of Sussex ghost stories and decided to produce the Ghost Walk of the Lanes, an 80-minute tour of Brighton’s oldest and most haunted quarter visiting eight haunted locations.  The walk initially ran for three nights before going into four a week when I took on board two other ghost walkers as my assistants. Public walks run every Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. We also run exclusive private bookings for corporate groups, language schools, hen parties and special children’s ghost walks and family groups.

  • What do you love most about what you do?

What is most rewarding to me in running the ghost walk is performing and seeing my audiences enjoying themselves. There has always been the actor in me struggling to get out and had intended on going to Bristol Old Vic Drama School. So life seems to have come full circle, picking up where I left off all those years ago.

  • How has the business and the market evolved over the last few years?

I was initially unsure as to how appealing the ghost walk would be in Brighton as it did not have a recognised status as a haunted city. However, I always felt The Lanes would be an excellent backdrop for a ghost walk. Furthermore, all the ghostly tales associated with the old quarter had real substance. Moreover, I had faith in my own ability as a performer and in the concept of a theatrical style ghost walk with costumed storytellers. From the early three nighters, I soon increased the number of nights and added private group bookings.

Since starting the walk there have been many spin-offs. I have had a book published, written articles, appeared on BBC TV and radio, independent radio and commercial television. I have also performed in various in-house shows at hotels and at the British Airways i360. The Ghost Walk of the Lanes has also featured in many local and national newspapers and journals including the Times Literary Supplement.  Next year I shall be appearing in a popular television programme about the paranormal.

  • What’s the best thing about where you work?

The best thing about performing in the Lanes is the friendly ambiance. However, things sometimes become a little raucous of a Saturday evening in high season.

  • What’s your average day like, or is it ever average?

Having officially retired over twelve years ago my days are pretty much my own. There is often a little work to do in my office by way of responding to emails and the like. I like to keep on top of things and ensure that everything is in its place. I like to do a bit of writing and to add stories to my blog. I also enjoy reading and researching. I get out on my bike a fair bit as I like to keep fit. I live out of town but Brighton is only a 10-15 minute bike ride away so I often pop in to visit one of my favourite cafés, do a bit of writing, longhand (I always carry a notebook). My fiancé and I also like to eat out several times a week.

  • What is the biggest challenge or opportunity currently for you at the moment?

I was very poorly a few years back and surprised myself by maintaining a stoic resolve through an extremely difficult and challenging time. Since then I have had a few hiccups along the way, so facing health issues is always a challenge.

  • What do you love most about Brighton?

I have always liked Brighton’s diversity and effervescence. It’s certainly a place where one feels alive. Furthermore, it is perhaps the most unprejudiced of places in the whole of the U.K. in which to live.

  • If anything at all, what would you like to be doing as an alternative career?

I think I would like to be a restorer of some kind as I like doing things with my hands. I once owned a picture framing studio and enjoyed the hands-on creative side of things. I particularly enjoyed restoring ornate 19th-century picture frames; many of which I have in my home containing oil paintings, prints and mirrors. I keep saying I must get back to doing some restoration work again but all I seem to do is watch The Repair Shop on TV.

  • Apart from Brighton of course, where else would you most like to live?

For peace and tranquillity I would say The Thames Valley. I once owned a river cruiser, which I had lovingly restored. I was also a keen sailor, so having a boat again would be a joy. If I were to choose a city then probably Paris, a place I first visited in 1964 and have returned to several times since. People often say that Parisians are rude. I have never found that to be the case.

Photo of Rob Marks from Ghost Walk of The Lanes, Brighton

Related

Ghost Walk of The Lanes
Quirky
in The Lanes

Join actor & master storyteller Rob Marks, as the mysterious Silas, or his fellow ghost walkers, Jasper & Ebenezer, for a 70 minute walk around Brighton’s famous Lanes.

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