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.
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.
Approximately 100 years separates these photos, showing Madeira Drive, the Volks railway, Kemp Town and the Madeira Drive green wall
We’re meeting on Marine Parade, at the top of the ramp up from Madeira Drive.
We’ll be weeding the beds, sowing some seeds and probably planting some cuttings of Japanese spindle.
Come along to help, or just to say hi!
Here is the seed list – it will add colour and interest and help keep some of the less interesting weeds down.
Many Brightonians and visitors will have noticed the greenery on the seafront east of the pier. This is mainly Japanese spindle – an ornamental plant established in Edwardian era as part of the (now removed) formal gardens along Marine Drive, but there’s ivy and other plants too.
Green wall at Marine Drive Brighton
It’s possibly the largest and oldest growth of this plant in the UK – and without it the seafront would be a very dull and barren place – and wildlife like wrens and migrating butterflies would certainly suffer. I’m sure the green walls have a big benefit for managing run off too – and the ivy will protect the cliff render where it’s in good condition. I don’t think Max Miller would have approved – the aerial walk bears his name.
Japanese Spindle – Euonymus Japonicus
The cliff face in some areas is in poor condition, and something will probably have to be done to cut the planting back to allow stabilisation works. Here at Building Green we’re working with the Council to see how this can be done whilst saving this vital greenery.
Green wall at Marine Drive, Brighton
If anyone knows the best way to cut back or coppice this plant, would like to volunteer to do a botanical survey of the cliff, or can get involved in managing the Marine Drive planting, get in touch.
What we really don’t want is a repeat of what happened further East, where a long section of green wall was unceremoniously stripped away in the name of litter and pest control.
Who cut out the green – Building Green campaign for better treatment of the seafront environment