New signs at the Volks wildlife site, Madeira Drive

Good to see the great new interpretation boards at the Volks railway opposite Duke’s Mound, celebrating the wildlife of the seafront. Everyone was stopping to have a read on their way past.

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The interpretation is by the talented Lucid Design.

Part of the Volks track bed is a local wildlife site, and sports vegetated shingle plants that local developments such as the new Marina development are looking to incorporate into their green roofs and landscaping.

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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’

A UK first at West Quay, Brighton Marina

The first ‘vegetated shingle’ green roofs in the UK are currently being built at the West Quay development at Brighton Marina Village.

West Quay is a significant development, with 853 flats. Green roofs are being established at each level by contractors Midgard for developer Brunswick.

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As the natural ecosystem in this location is the vegetation that grows in beach shingle (ie vegetated shingle), the aim is to mimic this habitat. Planters at podium level will also incorporate this habitat.

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Bird boxes for swifts, sparrows and peregrines are also being put up.

There is natural vegetated shingle at Black Rock, next to the marina, and west along the Volks Railway. This is one of the rarest habitats in the UK, and a large proportion of the world’s vegetated shingle is found in Hampshire, Sussex and Kent.

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Much of the shingle habitat in Brighton is in poor condition, and a management plan is being drawn up with funding from developer contributions. A new shingle garden is planned as part of the Volks Railway redevelopment.

Continue West to Shoreham beach, or East to Dungeness, and in the summer you’ll see what a glorious and special habitat this is.

Building Green is planning a visit to see the roof works in progress.

Heritage lottery bid for Volks railway to run the trains on solar power

Went to the exhibition of the HLF bid today down at Yellowave.

New sheds and visitor centre planned for the Volks railway, Brighton

New sheds and visitor centre planned for the Volks railway, Brighton

Met the team, and really impressed by the plans – including enough solar power to run 2 trains entirely on renewable electricity! A habitat park is planned, and Building Green is hoping to be involved to help VERA and partners make this dream a reality.

Volks railway – Heritage Lottery Fund open meeting

Plans for the rejuvenation of Volk’s Electric Railway are at an advanced stage and this will be an opportunity for members of the public to talk to the architects and consultants.

A model of the proposed new Aquarium Station and Visitor Centre will be on display, as will detailed plans of the new sheds at Banjo Groyne.   Photographs of the three cars selected for restoration will also be available.

The event is being held at the Yellowave Clubhouse, 299 Madeira Drive from 1pm – 5pm.