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!

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.

 

New Madeira Terraces design ideas

Michael Doyle Town Planning have shared this new design for Madeira Drive with the Council and Building Green.

Maderia Terrace with light weight timber deck and cherry picker for green wall maintenance

Maderia Terrace with light weight timber deck and cherry picker for green wall maintenance

It shows how a timber upper level would allow light to filter through. It’s a more lightweight solution. Michael has also shown a cherry picker on the upper level, which would allow easy maintenance of the green wall.

The green wall covers and protects large areas of the cliff and saves money in the expensive application of new concrete render. However, it does need maintenance – which could be carried out by volunteers as well as the Council.

Michael’s earlier designs also show commercial pods which could be slotted under the terrace in future, enabling new, much-needed, business and revenue to be generated in this area of the beach front.

Commercial units coujld be established under the Madeira Terrace

Commercial units coujld be established under the Madeira Terrace

For more of Michael’s designs see this previous post.

Building Green tour of Brighton & Hove

The second day of our DIY Green Roof workshop involved a tour of some inspirational buildings in Brighton & Hove.

First was the Velo Cafe, with a green roof fitted by Organic Roofs. Lee Evans talked the group through the trials and tribulations of green roofing on a pitched slope. The roof now looks great, and we spotted a female grey wagtail feeding on it.

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

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

Grey wagtail on the roof of the Velo Cafe, Brighton

Grey wagtail on the roof of the Velo Cafe, Brighton

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

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

We visited Madeira Drive to see the ‘world famous sheltered walk’ and the green wall. Great inspiration for greening the other 4 building surfaces – which are often forgotten amongst all the talk of roofs! This was the first guided visit to the Madeira Drive Green Wall, and Building Green highlighted the threats and opportunities for its continued conservation.

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

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

Finally we went to Whitehawk to see the great wildflower roof at the Crew Club. Unfortunately the roofs on the Children’s Centre and library are faring less well – much of the planting has died and the roofs should really be refurbished. Still, it’s a hotspot for green roofing and green building – nearby houses are making their own contribution too, as this well managed ivy attests.

The 'chalk downland' green roofs of the Crew Club community centre, Whitehawk, Brighton

The ‘chalk downland’ green roofs of the Crew Club community centre, Whitehawk, Brighton

Whitehawk home - carefully grown and tended ivy as a home for wildlife and attractive front garden. Brighton

Whitehawk home – carefully grown and tended ivy as a home for wildlife and attractive front garden. Brighton

All in all a great weekend – new friendships, new networks, and some new neural pathways from all this learning!

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

Corbyn on Madeira Drive: “a national treasure”

Jeremy Corbyn promised to win back Brighton at today’s Labour party conference.

Of particular interest to Building Greeners will this report of the interview by the Argus, that:

“He called the Madeira Arches a “a national treasure which must be preserved and expanded”.

But added: “I think investing in the infrastructure is a job for the local council, but it’s also about how you improve the incentives in the businesses along the front. “Clearly it does need doing because Brighton, which is is a national treasure, has got to be preserved, and expanded. “And I will take that on board. I love Brighton.””