A hotbed of Victorian invention, Madeira Drive’s history has seen piers, an aquarium, an electric railway and ‘Daddy Longlegs seagoing car’, the first speedway and the ‘famous sheltered walk’ – Madeira Terrace. Well, in amongst all that, 150 years ago, the Victorians planted a ‘green wall’. The engineers had the foresight to build the Madeira Terrace in a way which enabled the planting to continue growing up the East Cliff – a rare early example in this country of integrating built and natural environments!
The green wall has grown in majesty since its humble beginnings as a backdrop of evergreen Japanese Spindle, which was planted to soften and improve the appearance of the developing seafront.
A recent survey by Building Green found over 100 species of plants growing on the wall, which – although much reduced from its original extent – is almost certainly the oldest, longest, green wall in Europe! The Madeira Drive Green Wall is now a candidate ‘Local Wildlife Site’ – the only one of its kind in the UK!
The Duke’s Mound end is managed by Green Gym volunteers in partnership with Building Green, Brighton & Hove City Council and the Ecology Consultancy.
Madeira Terraces are, of course, in need of restoration as part of a newly regenerated East Brighton seafront. Building Green is working with Brighton & Hove City Council and its “Save the Terraces” Campaign to ensure that this regeneration celebrates and enhances both the built and natural environments along the seafront.
What a great opportunity to connect more people with nature – the mission of The Living Coast – whilst honouring our Victorian legacy and creating a place that people really want to spend time in for the next 150 years!
Building Green’s members include green roof experts, Council officers, architects, nature conservationists, artists, academics, gardeners, landscapers and ordinary members of the public interested in doing their bit for a greener, more pleasant city. They want to encourage developers, green roof companies and others to join as well.
Brighton & Hove Building Green was established in 2006 to promote green roofs and living walls as a contribution to a sustainable Brighton & Hove. We operate as a voluntary community network.
Brighton & Hove Building Green was founded by James Farrell, an environmentalist and local resident. As policy advisor to the Mayor of London he developed the first planning requirements for green roofs and walls in the UK, and was involved in supporting the green roof revolution in London.
Building Green worked with partners Living Roofs, Grass Roof Company and Brighton Permaculture Trust to establish the UK’s first training in DIY green roofing in 2007. These workshops continue in Brighton, and are now delivered in partnership with Organic Roofs.