The many green walls at the New England development near Brighton station are – on the whole – thriving.
Great to see such healthy green walls, and to experience how they soften the streetscape.
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!
For a full history of our wonderful Madeira Drive, visit our unique page.
Is this a very male question? Maybe, but I was struck by the claims from the National Grid that their new car park green wall is the largest in Europe! Is our very own Madeira Drive green wall bigger and better?
The National Grid boasts “a living wall of 1027 sq.m, making this Europe’s largest. The Living wall is home to over 97,000 plants of over 20 different species“. Undoubtedly impressive stuff.
Madeira Drive’s green wall by comparison – planted by the Victorians along the East Cliff in c1880 – was approximately 20 metres high and 1.2 kilometres long when at its very best in the 1980s. 24,000 m2 in extent.
Now, substantially diminished with gaps where plants have died and not been replaced, the wall is – and I’m guessing here – very approximately a quarter of its former extent. Still 6000 m2 though!
Building Green and the Ecology Consultancy surveys have found 100 species of plant on the wall.
So sorry, National Grid – it appears our green wall is bigger than yours after all!
Maybe we need to amend the flyer now to say ‘The oldest and longest green wall in Europe!’.
I was struck by this news release from Scotscape this week. A ‘hybrid’ green wall involving artificial and natural plants. The future of greening is plastic. Isn’t it?
I remember over 10 years ago, the Argus reporting about a planned green roof at Brighton University in terms of the roof being special because it was ‘painted green’. An innocent mistake, but are we really advocating artificial plants as part of our towns and cities? Ever felt the disappointment of sniffing a convincing flower arrangement on a restaurant table?
Let’s not pretend this is real greening. We need more, not less nature in our towns and cities. More plants, habitats and natural landscapes to deliver multiple benefits – to improve our mental wellbeing, for wildlife, rainwater management, urban cooling and even sniffing.
It’s not just walls that are at threat from artificial greenery. Research in 2011 revealed that 3,000 hectares (12 sq miles) of garden vegetation had been lost over eight years in the UK – which amounts to more than two Hyde Parks a year. Much, if not all, of this loss was down to decking, concreting over gardens, and the use of artificial grass – with consequences for nature and urban flood risk and the disposal of recyclable waste. Praise be to muddy knees, worms, blackbirds, and daisy chains (John Terry take note).
Madeira Terraces, home to the longest continuous ironwork structure in the UK and the longest and oldest green wall, are derelict.
Brighton Council has launched a historic crowdfunding appeal to restore them, and regenerate this neglected part of the seafront as part of the ‘Lockwood Project’.
Leader Warren Morgan said:
“We will harness the city’s energy, creativity and affection for the Terraces to get the project off the ground. At the same time we will leave no stone unturned, seeking every possible avenue of funding from government and other sources.
“We want to inspire private and corporate investors to join us in saving a nationally-important structure on one of the world’s most recognisable seafronts by the much loved pebble beach. I’m not giving up on this. We’re determined to find a way of funding the restoration of the Terraces“.
Building Green will continue to push for the retention and enhancement of the Victorian ‘green wall’ – with 100 species of flowering plant it is a candidate local wildlife site, part of our historic seafront, and beautiful backdrop to the beach.
Find out more about the history of Madeira Drive on our new page here.
Portslade Green Gym have done another great job removing persistent weeds from the bed of the green wall at Madeira Drive.
This is important work, as it keeps the bed clear for other plants to grow and keeps ivy off the edges of the beds. It also keeps the footpath nice and clear for pedestrians, buggies etc – so why not take a stroll down the green wall and enjoy the emerging flowers this Spring.
The other good thing about the Green Gym folks, of course, is they are volunteers doing this for the love and for their own fitness. They’re a sprightly bunch!
Proud of the partnership Building Green, the Council, the Ecology Consultancy and Green Gym have formed. Photos courtesy of the Ecology Consultancy.
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?
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.