Restoration continues at oldest, longest green wall in the UK

Volunteers from the local community have been helping dig holes ready for more tree planting this week on Madeira Drive – the location of the oldest, longest green wall in the UK.

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The project is saving some 40 year old ‘Japanese spindle’ plants, and giving them a new home, as part of a wider vision to restore the green wall to its former glory. The plants have been coppiced – cut back hard – but should grow and one day could be as tall as their 140+ year old neighbours!

Volunteers included the first vegan design certified interior designers Materialise Interiors.

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Volunteers save plants for country’s oldest ‘green’ wall

Filming/photo opportunities at Madeira Terrace green wall: Sunday, 30 September, 11am or Wednesday, 3 October, between 12 noon and 2pm. Please let Julie Harris Julie.harris@brighton-hove.gov.uk  and James Farrell know if you are interested in coming along.

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Happy Green Gymers after a hard morning’s work at Madeira Drive green wall

Work will begin next week to carefully transplant a group of Japanese spindle which has been growing in containers above Concorde 2 on Madeira Terrace for more than 35 years.

When they heard plants needed to be moved to enable repairs to the building, local community organisation Building Green got in touch offering to save the plants.

Japanese Spindle has been happily growing along Madeira Drive since the Victorians established a ‘green wall’ in the late 19th Century. It’s the oldest and longest of its kind in the country, and was designed to enhance the famous ironwork of Madeira Terrace.

James Farrell, founder of Building Green, said “We are working with the council to rescue some old Japanese spindle plants that need to be removed as part of structural improvement to the Concorde 2. The plants are a special feature of the Madeira Drive green wall, a ‘vertical garden’ which was established by the Victorians to enhance the seafront and Madeira Terrace.

“The green wall now contains more than 100 species of flowering plants, and is the longest and oldest of its kind in the country. The plants will be safely moved to a new home along the green wall at Duke’s Mound.”

Building Green has trialled coppicing (safely cutting from the base where the plants will regrow) on sections of the green wall and this technique will be used to transplant the spindles.

Councillor Alan Robins, lead member for tourism, development and culture, said: “We really appreciate the conservation being done by all the partners on this unique green wall. Thanks to them, as part of the work we are doing to maintain Concorde 2, the spindles will find a new home and won’t be lost. At 20 metres high and 1.2km long, the green wall is quite a feature and hosts an incredible diversity of plants and wildlife which is perhaps surprising in this exposed location.”

Volunteers from Building Green have been working with the council, Portslade Green Gym and other partners for several years to manage and restore this unique and important natural heritage.

It is thought the spindles being moved date back to the 1980s when they were planted in concrete troughs on the upper level of Madeira Terrace to improve the environment for visitors. The majority of spindle along the green wall is more than 140 years old and grows from ground level up and behind the walkway of the Terrace. It has glossy leaves and produces pink and orange berries.

Save Madeira Terraces – £160k raised so far, £270k to go!

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Have you donated yet to the ‘Save Madeira Terrace’ campaign?

The campaign has now raised over £160,000 from more than 700 local people and businesses who are committed to preserving its future – as well as celebrating its past. Minimum donation is £2. Please spread the word and share this link: Spacehive – Save Madeira Terrace

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Save Madeira Terrace!

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Help us restore our iconic arches to their former glory! We will save this historical structure from falling into disrepair, in the process creating a new lively quarter for Brighton.

Save Madeira Terrace  is a crowdfunding campaign launched on 26 June and running until  30 Nov 2017 by which time it needs to raise £432,598.

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Brighton & Hove Building Green is a partner in this project, as the terraces sit hand in glove with Europe’s longest, oldest green wall.

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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.

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.