Coming soon…a cultural and environmental history of Brighton’s seafront road, Madeira Drive

Building Green is very interested in Madeira Drive – ‘Maddy’ – the seafront along East Brighton.

Home to unique Victorian engineering, major public events and a great beach, it’s also the greenest part of the seafront in Brighton & Hove, and is home to rare ‘vegetated shingle’ habitat and the longest, oldest green wall in the country.

For that reason we think it’s worth special attention, and we will soon post a special page dedicated to this miracle mile (and a bit).

In the meantime, here are some more old photos along Madeira Drive…showing the historic development of the seafront, the planting, the tearooms and lift, and the elevated ‘Madeira Terrace’.

Looking east – the Chain Pier, bathing machines and Victorian traffic. You can clearly see planting established on the cliff face. Dated 1890 but Shelter Hall, built 1890, not visible so this is probably earlier

Looking west towards the Chain Pier, with the railway laid out. Japanese spindle trees look around 12 feet tall here. 1883? Lawns were laid out in 1884 and are not visible here. Railway established 1883

The Aquarium, Brighton 1889 – 1896, again with the Chain Pier in the distance and plants well established on the East Cliff. Part of the Gravelroots UK Vintage Trail

 

madeira_lift1

Madeira Lift showing the lawns in front and the planting climbing behind the terraces.

 

Planting along the East cliff – showing the Concorde tearooms but the rest of the elevated walkway not yet built. Less shingle, and loads more sand and reef at low tide. 1890

St Mary's Hall and Kemptown 1926 showing the planting on Madeira Drive and Duke's Mound. Britain from above. Copyright Historic England

St Mary’s Hall and Kemptown 1926 showing the planting on Madeira Drive and Duke’s Mound. Pre-Carlton Hill and Whitehawk

Duke's mound terrace, Brighton

Early planting on the front of Sussex Square, Duke’s Mound – the walls recently cleared and replanted by the Council. After the enclosed Esplanade was opened to the public in 1952

Madeira terraces, Kemp town with cyclist

Madeira terraces, Kemp town with cyclist. ‘The famous sheltered walk’

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4 thoughts on “Coming soon…a cultural and environmental history of Brighton’s seafront road, Madeira Drive

  1. Pingback: Madeira Drive – further designs published – building green

    • Thank you for the comment and link Delia. You (and wikipedia!) are certainly right that the kind of green wall described is the main green wall type discussed these days. Overlooked, however, are the original green walls – often simple climbing plants such as ivy or virginia creeper that require no expensive watering systems or special growing media. Madeira Drive is therefore very much a green wall too! I haven’t edited the wikipedia green wall page for some years, so thanks for pointing it out – I will add to it! Best regards,
      James

  2. Pingback: Green Gym planning a workout at the green wall – building green

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