The future of Maderia Drive – it’s in all our hands…and an important clue

Building Green attended an important first meeting about the future of Madeira Drive recently.

The Council hosted the meeting, and invitees included a number of community organisations like ours, local businesses, interested residents and others. There were some big names in the room, which bodes well for the level of interest in regenerating the neglected East Brighton seafront.

Building Green spoke about the value and importance of the Madeira Drive Green Wall, which contributes vital natural heritage alongside the built heritage of the seafront. We will be offering the expertise the support of our volunteers to ensure the green wall is protected and enhanced as part of any future development.

The meeting discussed the new crowdfunding appeal – to be launched soon – plans and suggestions for future development, and ‘meanwhile’ uses to bring much needed life, recreation and business activity to Madeira Drive.

On our way to the meeting, we stopped off at the Fishing Museum and found a woodcut that offers an important clue to the founding of the green wall. For some time, Building Green has been looking for evidence of when the wall was first planted (with Japanese Spindle). Our hunch was that it was earlier than 1880, though the only documentary evidence points to 1882 (JB Evison 1969 ‘Gardening by the sea’). Well, I know you’re holding your breath, so…the woodcut print was published in 1872 and seems to show evenly spaced shrubs planted along the footing of the cliff. How exciting!

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For a full history of our wonderful Madeira Drive, visit our unique page.

The story of ‘Maddy’ – Brighton’s historic Madeira Drive

Brighton & Hove Building Green have published a history of ‘Maddy’ – our beloved seafront road in East Brighton which is home to the oldest and longest green wall in the UK.

It’s a story of Victorian invention, bringing together technology, engineering, the environment and health and enjoyment.

Visit the Madeira Drive page to find out more.

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Hello Sailor! Promenading the ‘famous Madeira Terrace on Madeira Drive

Madeira Terraces and the ‘famous sheltered walk’ – a step back in time

This superb shot by Paul Norman has recently come to our attention. It’s 1985 – shows the green wall East of the shelter hall is fully intact…sadly a few of these veteran (planted c1880) Japanese spindle trunks are missing now, but it’s still one of the best bits of green wall on the whole stretch. Also visible are the hedges that used to exist along on the southern edge of the terrace. Does anyone know what year they were taken out?

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Building Green is meeting with the Council on Friday to talk through the proposals for redevelopment of Madeira Drive. We are keen to offer our expertise and support.

Paul’s group Hanover Action, are doing some fantastic work to improve the quality of life for Hanover residents. Check them out here.

DIY green roofs – learn how to do it yourself on 29 & 30 October

The next opportunity to learn how to ‘do green roofs yourself’ is coming up.

On the weekend of 29 & 30 October, Building Green with Organic Roofs and Brighton Permaculture Trust, is running a workshop on the subject.

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For bookings go here.

These highly successful workshops have been running for several years. Don’t miss this opportunity to have a fun weekend of learning about this fascinating subject, picking up new skills and quizzing the experts on how to ‘do it yourself’.

For bookings go here.

Green Gym planning a workout at the green wall

Portslade Green Gym volunteers will be at the Madeira Drive green wall again this week, working up a sweat whilst maintaining our natural heritage.

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Madeira Drive Green wall below Paston Place, 10 October 2016

They will be tidying up the vegetation along the footpath, helping to maintain the biodiversity of the area whilst keeping things shipshape for pedestrians.

Why not pop along during the morning of 13 October 2016.

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Madeira Drive green wall and Duke’s Mound from the air, 1935

Building Green is working with the Council and volunteers to protect this Victorian green wall – planted c1850 – and in time restore it along its length. It is the longest of its kind in the UK, and was planned alongside the unique listed Victorian ironwork of Madeira Terrace, the Shelter Hall, and the Volks Electric Railway.

Find out more here – more coming soon.

 

10 years ago today

10 years ago today, Brighton & Hove Building Green had its very first meeting.

The first meeting agreed to establish a forum, and set out some success criteria. Here’s how we think we’ve got on.

“The forum would look to achieve the following:
* the mainstream establishment of green buildings in Brighton and Hove as a contribution to a healthier City

Green roofs and green walls are certainly more mainstream, with links in planning policy. Some of the ambitions – for London-style planning requirements – have not been achieved and there is work to do to encourage better quality installations that last and perform.

* greater public awareness about the role of green buildings, through practical demonstrations, guidance and media attention

Building Green has been central to promoting green buildings in Brighton & Hove – we’ve run many events, and contributed many stories to the media.

* generate pride in Brighton and Hove’s existing green buildings through open days etc

We have run tours of green buildings in the city, and were a partner in Eco Open Houses – many of the houses featuring green roofs and/or walls.

* the growth of small (household) projects – especially sheds, garages, dormers – through the provision of practical advice and demonstrations

Building Green established the UK’s first training course in how to ‘do it yourself’, and has gone on to run events

* demonstrate new, locally appropriate techniques such as vegetated shingle roofs”

The UK’s first vegetated shingle roofs are currently being constructed at Brighton Marina. Building Green is planning a tour to see how they’re getting on.

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

 

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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

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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’