Crowdfunding launch today – Madeira Terraces

Building Green are attending the launch of the Crowdfunding appeal for Madeira Terraces today. This will be key to securing the ‘proof of concept’ for the restoration of the Victorian terraces, which are integral to the status of the Madeira Drive Green wall.

The Council says that the crowdfunding is a way to kick start this process.  “It will:

Provide restored and rejuvenated new arches to show just how tremendous and beautiful the restored project could be

Allow us to test restoration methods and take apart the structure to investigate the ways in which it can most cost effectively be restored

Provide a new focal point – a show case or “show home” for the bigger project and a way to attract in commercial and external funding for the wider project.”

Building Green will continue to work with the Council and partners to press for and advise on the protection and restoration of the living wall which pre-dates and is integral with the Terraces.

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A visit to Max Miller Walk, Madeira Drive

Building Green was asked to advise on some leaks above Concorde 2 recently, which meant a rare trip to Max Miller walk via the Victorian lift in the building. I managed to get a nice pic of the fish detail on the drainpipe – this is one of the cast iron supports for the terrace…no wonder there are rust and decay issues!

The walk – and the Madeira Terraces – have been closed for some time due to safety fears.

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.

Who’s got the biggest green wall?

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?

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National Grid car park, Warwick

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.

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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!

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Maybe we need to amend the flyer now to say ‘The oldest and longest green wall in Europe!’.

Make a little bird house in your soul – another successful green roof course!

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Happy green roofers – with Building Green and Organic Roofs

Building Green and Organic Roofs hosted another crew of enthusiastic eco warriors in May, on the green roof training course we run with Brighton Permaculture Trust.

We had talks, project consultancy, green roofed bird house building, and tours of Madeira Drive historic green wall, Crew Club wildflower green roof and Level Cafe green roof in the centre of town.

Here are some pictures – they speak for themselves!

We are planning something even bigger and better next time, so watch this space.

 

Taking stock on the Brighton cliffs – new hopes?

Brighton & Hove cliffs are home to hoary stockMatthiola incana – a nationally scarce plant that likes warm south facing coasts. I love the fact that another common name for the plant is ‘hopes‘.

Whilst there is some debate about its ancestry – is it native, but what does that mean anyway? – it is listed in the citation for the Brighton to Newhaven Cliffs Site of Special Scientific Interest. Natural England listed this SSSI in 2014 as ‘unfavourable recovering’ – it’s of variable quality no doubt but the section I explored as far as Roedean from the marina was very eutrophic (thanks, dog owners) and devoid of much particular diversity on first glance…except for the very cliff edge where I spied a few small patches closer to chalk grassland and even a few lone orchids.

Hoary stock on the cliffs above Brighton Marina

Hoary stock on the cliffs above Brighton Marina – part of the Brighton to Newhaven Site of Special Scientific Interest

A run along there recently shows it in its purple and white forms – and even a combination variegated form I hadn’t seen before (just visible on the right hand side of this photo)!

It was good to see large hoary stock plants along parts of the Madeira Drive green wall as well – where it is one of 100 species that have been recorded in this historic green wall wildlife site.

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Hoary stock at Madeira Drive green wall, Brighton

Richard Mabey, in his Flora Britannica, says hoary stock:

…is possibly a rare native of the southern chalk cliffs, now probably confined to Sussex and Isle of Wight, and is the parent of the garden stocks. In the wild it has short sprays of large, deep violet flowers [or white, or a combination!] with a clove-like fragrance, which produce seed-pods often more than four inches long. It was developed into the strain of ‘Brompton stocks’ in the eighteenth century at the Brompton Road nursery in London”.

By the way, it especially smells of cloves at night – but be careful on the cliff tops if you’re going to take a sniff! Other names it is known by include:

Brompton Stock
cluster-leaved stock
common stock
gilliflower
hopes
queen’s stock
wallflower stock.

Impressions of Madeira Drive by Vincenzo Donlini

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Vincenzo Donlin

Local artist Vincenzo Donlini has created some atmospheric images of Madeira Drive. Featuring the terraces, the beach and the green wall, they are full of light, colour and texture. Visit his website.

These paintings were made on site in 2015 – not from photos – so tell of a time before ‘dereliction’. Postcards etc are available from the website.