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.

Madeira Drive – further designs published

New designs have been published for Madeira Drive – attempting to address the restoration of the Victorian arches whilst regenerating the seafront between the Pier and Marina.

This is the latest in a number of ideas – see Michael Doyle’s and the Council backed ideas of Sea Lanes and the ‘Lockwood Project’ that aims to retain and enhance the historic green wall.

Paul Nicholson (Chalk Architects) favours luxury flats and a park at the level of Marine Parade modelled on the New York High Line.

Visualisation here.

Clearly it would mean the end of sections, at least, of the historic planting and established biodiversity on the Madeira Drive Green Wall, but to remain open minded it may create additional valuable habitat and open space for people and wildlife.

Whether this will remain a fanciful sketch, or a vision fulfilled, remains to be seen. Building Green will want to be involved if this gets off the drawing table.

The ‘Lockwood project’ – securing the future of the Madeira Terraces and green wall?

The Council have announced this week the ‘Lockwood project’ – the repair and restoration of Madeira Terraces alongside the continued regeneration of East Brighton seafront.

This is very welcome, especially for Building Green the statement from Leader Warren Morgan that …

"Importantly, we are looking for ways to preserve the unique and
historic Green Wall which predates the Terraces themselves, building
around it just as the Terraces were, allowing the Green Wall to breathe
and grow."

This is a win for Building Green, who have been working for years to ensure that the value and importance of this unique feature of our seafront is protected for future generations.

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We have written to Warren, offering our continued support for making this dream a reality.

The project is named for tte Brighton Borough Surveyor who created the Terraces and our famous Birdcage Bandstand, Phillip Cawston Lockwood. The architects are Wilkinson Eyre and the engineers Mott MacDonald.

Update: Warren has replied with his thanks for our offer of help, and will be putting Building Green in touch with the Project Team. Watch this space!

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’

Great work(out!) by the Green Gym at Madeira Drive green wall today

Great work(out!) by the Green Gym at Madeira Drive green wall today

The Portslade Green Gym were in action again today, flexing their muscles to improve the health and appearance of the vegetation growing at Madeira Drive green wall.

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Councillor Gill Mitchell greets the Portslade Green Gym volunteers at Madeira Drive green wall. With Brighton & Hove Building Green.

They worked to help protect the biodiversity of the wall, make sure plants weren’t in the way of pedestrians, and have fun and get fit doing it!

Ivy, dock and thistles were targets, and the results are plain to see. A big ‘thank you’ from Building Green for everyone involved.

Councillor Gill Mitchell came by to see what we were doing as well, and was pleased to see the community improving an important local green space.

Madeira Drive green wall was established by the Victorians in the early 1800s, and is the longest and oldest in the country. 100 species of plant have been recorded growing here, and it is a candidate Site of Importance for Nature Conservation in the city plan.

Our thanks to the Council, Portslade Green Gym and the Ecology Consultancy. I’m sure Green Gym will be back again in future!

Now booking – DIY green roofs training weekend, 29-30 October

We are now taking bookings for our DIY Green Roof weekend this October.

Based at Organic Roofs HQ on the south coast near Brighton, and involving site visits to some superb green roofs and living walls, the course is run by experts from Brighton & Hove Building Green and Organic Roofs, and administered by Brighton Permaculture Trust.

More information here.

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Building Green DIY Green Roof workshoppers taking a tour of the Velo Cafe, Brighton

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Happy green roofers with their green roofed bird boxes

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Building Green DIY Green Roof workshop crew hearing about the special green wall at Madeira Drive, Brighton

The lopping and chopping continues! Green Gym party at Madeira Drive Green Wall

Next Thursday 5 May, Portslade Green Gym’s wonderful team of energetic volunteers will be sprucing up the Victorian green wall at Madeira Drive.

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Armed with ‘loppers and choppers’ they will be clearing weeds and rubbish to improve biodiversity and tidy up this part of the seafront.

The work is organised by Brighton & Hove Building Green, and is supported by the Council.

 

 

 

–          Including a strong environmental focus in local policy development, especially BHCC’s City Plan Part 2 and the Open Spaces Strategy

Green gym did a great job down at Madeira Drive green wall

15 volunteers from Portslade Green Gym have given the foliage at the Madeira Drive green wall a makeover. They cleared huge piles of weeds and ivy that were smothering the bed, getting onto the pavement, and crowding out the more attractive wild plants. Over 100 species of plant have been found at the Madeira Drive green wall. The Green Gym were supervised by Building Green member The Ecology Consultancy.

The Council cleared away the green waste the same day, and this end of the green wall is looking much smarter.

Building Green will be seeding the bed to encourage more wild flowers. We will also be working with the Council to establish new Japanese spindle planting in front of the freshly concreted stretch.

The rest of the Victorian green wall is currently out of bounds due to the instability of the antique ironwork of Madeira Terrace.