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

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’

New ideas for Madeira Drive

Urban designer Michael Doyle has produced these ideas for a new-look Madeira Drive.

Based on designs published in the Argus in September, these new ideas incorporate the environmental infrastructure that is such an important part of our seafront.

Michael is a local resident who runs an independent town planning and urban design practice. Building Green has met Michael to share ideas.

In one design, photovoltaics could be mounted on the existing ironwork to provide some economic benefit and green electricity whilst longer term solutions are found.

In another, cafes and shops could be assembled as pods that sit outside the terrace at first – providing business space now – and wheeled back under the terrace like Victorian bathing machines if and when a safe, longer term solution is found.

The Council are in private talks over the future of the Madeira terraces, which are currently closed due to the deterioration of the antique Victorian ironwork. Ideas like those of Michael Doyle Building Green and the wider community should be heard as part of a wider debate and search for economic, sustainable solutions.

Building Green is highlighting the importance of the living ‘green wall’, which pre-dates the terraces and is notable for its age, uniqueness in the UK, its wildlife value and for improving the appearance of the East cliff. We are working with the Council to actively manage the only stretch of green wall that is currently accessible – which runs East along the ramp from Peter Pan to the top of Marine Parade.

In the words of Council Leader Warren Morgan, “…we owe it to those who built our city’s heritage, and future generations, to save what we value in our historic city and add to the story of Brighton and Hove for the future.”.

Restored terrace with cafe and shop pods underneath - like Victoria bathing machines these could be established in a space in front of the terraces to be used before the structure is made safe, and wheeled under the arches in due course

Restored terrace with cafe and shop pods underneath – like Victoria bathing machines these could be established in a space in front of the terraces to be used before the structure is made safe, and wheeled under the arches in due course

Photovoltaics could be established on the terraces where not safe to walk on. This can provide green electricity and some economic benefits, as well as a working platform for green wall maintenance.

Photovoltaics could be established on the terraces where not safe to walk on. This can provide green electricity and some economic benefits, as well as a working platform for green wall maintenance.

A striking way of visualising the environmental infrastructure in East Brighton. Connecting the downs to the sea via the squares, green wall and streets. Supporting wildlife and reducing surface water flood risk

A striking way of visualising the environmental infrastructure in East Brighton. Connecting the downs to the sea via the squares, green wall and streets. Supporting wildlife and reducing surface water flood risk.

Madeira Drive A5 leaflet Building Green 1509

Building Green image of green wall

Madeira Drive green wall, Brighton

Brighton carnival in front of Madeira Drive green wall. Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove

Brighton carnival in front of Madeira Drive green wall. Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove