The Battle for Madeira Drive

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During lockdown, Brighton and Hove City Council decided to close Brighton’s historic Madeira Drive ‘temporarily’ in order to provide ‘more space to exercise.’ Two months later movement restrictions lifted and the traders were told by a visiting council officer that there was a plan to close the Drive permanently. No public notice. No public consultation.

115 years of celebrating motoring and motorcycling history gone. Just like that. 37 traders, some of whom had been trading for decades, facing the end.

Local Mod, Ollie Wilson, and his partner, who just happens to be our Hon Secretary Laura King, decided to start a council petition to re-open Madeira Drive to all users. They also began holding regular protests by Brighton Palace Pier, assembling mods and bikers and founded a facebook group Reopen Madeira Drive To All. They appeared on local radio and television and even made the national press.

Of particular concern to Brighton and Hove Heritage Commission is the risk that the closure of Madeira Drive puts to the restoration of Grade II listed Madeira Terrace, and just when enough money had finally been raised to commence work via a Crowdfunding campaign on the first thirty arches (out of 151). In fact the Commission itself made a donation and was anxious to hear of a start date for the works.

Behind the Terrace is the longest and oldest ‘Green Wall‘ in the country and one of the earliest known attempts to intentionally create the equivalent of a ‘hothouse’ in the open air to complement the sheltered walkway of Madeira Terrace, an eco innovation which has survived to this day and is an integral part of the Terrace.

The heritage of Madeira Drive has proved the ideal backdrop to heritage vehicle events such as The London to Brighton Veteran Car Run and other events celebrating bikes, scooters and vehicles which have long outlived their carbon construction footprint, and may indeed have something to teach the modern vehicles of today with their efficient and more repairable mechanisms. Madeira Drive has also been home to the speed trials since 1905. It is seldom used as a through road, but as a destination and a spiritual home where mods and bikers hang out together at weekends, patronising the local cafes as they keep an eye on their pride and joy bikes.

On a daily basis 393 parking spaces are now out of commission through the closure of Madeira Drive, and just after the council had agreed that all parking revenue from Madeira Drive could be ploughed into the restoration of Madeira Terrace (not just an integral part of the Drive but part of the structural support for Marine Parade above). Moreover the coach parking is currently suspended which affects the local hotel trade and the disabled and those with electric cars who cannot get to the Madeira Drive charging station are being discrimated against.

An opposing petition was started to try and keep Madeira Drive closed, but has so far reached less than a third of the more than 10,500 signatures collected so far on the Reopen Madeira Drive to All petition.

So what can YOU do to help?

  1. Please sign and share the petition here to reopen Madeira Drive if you have not already).
  2. Please take a few minutes to fill in the belated council consultation on Madeira Drive here.
  3. You are also welcome to join Reopen Madeira Drive To All  Facebook group here, now 1300 members strong.
  4. Come to next protest on Sunday 9th August – from 10am – Madeira Drive – photo shoot at 1pm. All welcome!

The petition was supposed to go before full council on 26th July, but regrettably owing to sudden change of leadership to the Greens, it will now be discussed on 13th August. Brighton and Hove City Council have however conceded that offical events can resume, though this decision comes too late for 2020 and does not take account of the smaller or unofficial events. Nor that the traders need trade year round and not just for offical events.

Now after two worrying fires in a week (one at Black Rock toilets and one actually under the Terrace in the old Reading Room) as inevitable dereliction of Madeira Drive takes hold, we hear worrying murmerings about the future of Madeira Drive having to be ‘re-thought’.

We would disagree. Madeira Drive has always had a clearly defined role and purposes in this city, which remain popular and money-spinning to this day, if allowed to continue. Madeira Drive doesn’t need ‘rethinking’. It just needs reopening. Before any more risk or damage to its heritage can occur.

Cyclists and walkers already have a wide expanse of dedicated space opposite and once Madeira Terrace is restored that will re-open a lot of additional pedestrian (and commercial) space currently locked within for safety reasons including a mid terrace walkway above the sheltered walkway. Interestingly daily photographs taken by members of Reopen Madeira Drive Facebook group are showing that Madeira Drive itself is scarcely being used by the cyclists and walkers it has been given over to, who tend to stick to their designated cycle path and wide pavement area.

Repair to Madeira Drive 1870s

Madeira Road 1872 -77Madeira Road Drawing (reverse)

Madeira Road, Brighton, looking east. Drawing by H.S. Hine

Circa 1872-1877

In the collection of (and by permission of) R.V.Amerena Esq.

This is a fascinating view of workman repairing the wooden guard rail along Marine Parade from suspended scaffolding with a swooping seagull beneath.
The Victorians did not often record tradesmen at work, particularly for a guard rail repair, so this drawing is rare.
The artist Hine was sat at a spot immediately beneath 127 and 128 Marine Parade. Madeira Road was constructed and named as such in 1872 which ran along a new sea wall, after the Aquarium was built, to Duke’s Mound then up to Marine Parade. Duke’s Mound was named after His Grace the 6th Duke of Devonshire who was at 1 Lewes Crescent for thirty years until 1858.
As there is no evidence of Lockwood’s Madeira Terrace structure of the 1890’s in the drawing, and also no record of the Paston Place Groyne, known as the Banjo Groyne, built in 1877, this view then has to be drawn by Hine between 1872 and 1877.
The Great Sea Wall was constructed between 1830 – 38, with the wooden guard rail the whole length of Marine Parade at its top. The present iconic iron railings with dolphin motifs also designed by the borough surveyor Philip Lockwood replaced that wooden structure from 1880.

Save Brighton General Hospital! – the story so far

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With thanks to Bill Hunt of TopDog PR for his excellent blog post detailing the story so far.

There are MANY discussions and debates still to be had before the future of this unique site is decided. It is only the Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust who appear to be in a hurry to get Brighton General Hospital sold off out of public ownership and at the highest price.

Brighton Black Rock – have your say

Black Rock Pool

It is just over forty years since Black Rock was graced by this rather attractive and fondly remembered open air pool.

Now there are plans afoot to ‘revitalise’ the site with something new.

Two dedicated drop-in sessions have been organised by the council, to view the proposals and find out more:

WEDNESDAY 27TH NOVEMBER, 2PM – 7.30PM

St George’s Church
St George’s Road
Kemptown
Brighton
BN2 1ED

THURSDAY 28TH NOVEMBER, 2PM – 7.30PM

Function Room
Master Mariner
24 Marina Square, Waterfront
Brighton Marina
BN2 5WA

Remembrance Sunday – 10th November 2019

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This year Brighton and Hove Heritage Commission will be laying wreaths at both events this Sunday,10th November, as follows:
Old Steyne War Memorial
Arrive 10.30am for 11.00am
Ald. Francis Tonks, BHHC President
Roger Amerena, BHHC Heritage Commissioner and Chairman
Hove War Memorial, Grand Avenue
Arrive 2.00pm for 2.10pm Laura King, BHHC Hon. Sec.
Everyone welcome to these commemorations.

 

New Hannington’s Lane

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While the loss of the 18th C Timpsons premises in North Street was a blow to the city’s heritage, the new Lane is of refreshingly higher quality and sensitivity than feared with the exception of one small brutalist modern unit which lets it down. Puget’s Cottage in particular is a triumph in its restoration, albeit not open yet

With high business rates and expensive parking. units have been slow to fill. Which calls into question the wisdom of the other proposed project to extend the Churchill shopping centre down to the seafront. Yes, the Brighton Centre is hideous and in need of replacement but with retail trends the way they are, it would make more sense to replace it with a prettier conference centre, preferably more sympathetic to Brighton’s Regency past, and prevent the inevitable vacuum of the shopping areas surrounding Churchill if the centre were to be expanded.

Suffragette City!

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Almost enough plaques for a tourist trail – the latest plaque to celebrate suffragettes in Brighton was unveiled by MP Caroline Lucas in the Quadrant near the Clock tower last week to mark the site of the former Brighton Suffragette Office.

The plaque was met by enthusiastic reception from the large crowd, which included some indiviuals donned in suffragette dress. Latest TV and local press also attended.

 

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Brighton and Hove Heritage Commission – AGM on Saturday 1st September

Preston Manor 1 St Peter's Church Preston

The 5th AGM of Brighton and Hove Heritage Commission will take place on Saturday 1st September 2018 at 2pm in St Peter’s Chuch, just behind Preston Manor  (please arrive around 1.45pm to ensure a seat).

The AGM includes a presentation by guest speaker Henry Vivian-Neal – on Kensal Green Cemetery and its link with Brighton resident Joseph Rogers. Henry is a Trustee of The Friends of Kensal Green Cemetery and the author of books and articles about the Cemetery

Hazel Tapsell will then briefly speak on the history of St Peter’s.

The meeting will be followed by refreshments in the Servants’ Kitchen of Preston Manor (free to BHCC members – £5 per person to non-members). Optional tours of the Manor at local resident rate of £5 per person will also be available.

Please download invitation BHHC AGM 1st Sept 2018 and RSVP if coming.We look forward to seeing you there.

Conservation Advisory Group – Response to Old Town Consultation by Roger Amerena

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Brighton Old Town Conservation Area
Draft Consultation
Conservation Advisory Group
Suggested comments on five questions set out on the
BHCC consultation portal.

By Roger Amerena

13-12-2016
1 Do you have any comments to make on the summary of the area’s historic
development? Has anything important been omitted?
2 Do you agree with the general assessment of what factors make up the
special interest of the Old Town conservation area, in terms of its character
and appearance?
3 Do you agree with the spatial analysis of the conservation area – the
pattern of the streets, the important spaces and buildings and the key
views?
4 Do you agree with the identification of four distinct ‘character areas’ within
Old Town?
5 Do you have any other comments to make on the draft Character
Statement?
1 Do you have any comments to make on the summary of the area’s historic
development? Has anything important been omitted?
2 Do you agree with the general assessment of what factors make up the
special interest of the Old Town conservation area, in terms of its character
and appearance?
3 Do you agree with the spatial analysis of the conservation area – the
pattern of the streets, the important spaces and buildings and the key
views?
4 Do you agree with the identification of four distinct ‘character areas’ within
Old Town?
5 Do you have any other comments to make on the draft Character
Statement?
1 Do you have any comments to make on the summary of the area’s historic
development? Has anything important been omitted?
2 Do you agree with the general assessment of what factors make up the
special interest of the Old Town conservation area, in terms of its character
and appearance?
3 Do you agree with the spatial analysis of the conservation area – the
pattern of the streets, the important spaces and buildings and the key
views?
4 Do you agree with the identification of four distinct ‘character areas’ within
Old Town?
5 Do you have any other comments to make on the draft Character
Statement?

2 Do you agree with the general assessment of what factors make up the
special interest of the Old Town conservation area, in terms of its character
and appearance?
3 Do you agree with the spatial analysis of the conservation area – the
pattern of the streets, the important spaces and buildings and the key
views?
4 Do you agree with the identification of four distinct ‘character areas’ within
Old Town?
5 Do you have any other comments to make on the draft Character
Statement?
Roger Amerena
Important Views
To be illustrated in the OTCA document
a. East Street north to Castle Square
b. East Street south from Castle Square
c. North Street from Castle Square
d. West Street south from the Clock Tower
e. West Street north from South Street
f. Ship Street south from North Street
g. Prince Albert Street from junction with Ship Street
h. Prince Albert Street west from the middle of the east section
i. Black Lion Street north to Lane End House
j. All views of the Town Hall
k. Middle Street looking north from South Street
l. Ship Street north from the Old Ship Hotel
m. East Street north from seafront
n. Market Street north from Town Hall
o. Seafront promenades
p. Seascape from Palace Pier.
3 Do you agree with the spatial analysis of the conservation area – the
pattern of the streets, the important spaces and buildings and the key
views?
4 Do you agree with the identification of four distinct ‘character areas’ within
Old Town?
5 Do you have any other comments to make on the draft Character
Statement?
6. Character Areas
6.1 The assessment of the four sub areas would be correct though we would add that
there ought to be a proposal to include the south and west side of the Old Steyne of those
groups of buildings which abut the OT and are of pre C19th dates. Including Marlborough
House, The Royal York Buildings, Pool Passage Pool Valley and the Royal Albion site.
A general comment on the style of presentation is that there is too much reference
to present names of buildings rather than their street numbering. A CAS should have
longevity which will not occur over time with business changes. Though landmark buildings
should be named as such.
There is also a general feeling that the creator of the CAS has taken much from text books
and not walked and understood the area, also an architect’s view not a conservationist’s
view, we feel the document is very incomplete. This is very evident as many historic lanes
and parts of the public domain are not mentioned;
a. Wenlock House closed passage on North Street
b. Lewis’s Buildings thoroughfare with its historic original C17th cobbled and paviored
gullies and gutters
c. Duke Street Yard, untouched since C18th including its unusual timber framed Grade
ll house no.37a Duke Street.
d. Duke Court
e. Duke Passage
f. Unlisted C17th 41 Middle Street with its fascinating passage approach
g. South Street
h. Ship Street Court
i. Poplar Place
j. Clarence Yard
k. C17th passage between 10 and 11 East Street through to Little East Street
l. Passage in front of and extensively behind Nos 36 and 37 East Street.
m. Closed C17th passage behind No.4 Little East Street
n. Pool Passage
The use of the word “Twitten” be it from Sussex has never been used for the small
passages and lanes in the Old Town. Citation, yes in Patcham and Rottingdean, and
elsewhere in the city in the changed farmland areas. But in the Old Town the term should
be “Passage” and / or “Lane”.

Roger Amerena
4 Do you agree with the identification of four distinct ‘character areas’ within
Old Town?
5 Do you have any other comments to make on the draft Character
Statement?
6.3 An omission is that on its west there is a break from the designated building line
creating a wider part, which is visually pleasing. An indication of the older part of the street.
6.5 Rounded should read “segmental”
6.6 The synagogue now disused Grade ll* considered the second most important one
in Europe was Thomas Lainson’s best work.
6.7 The Paganini Room connects to the Regency Room similar, particularly the
ceiling, to Crunden’s C18th Castle Inn Ball Room now moved and rebuilt in Montpelier
Place
6.8 Nos. 4-6 a mock Tudor reproduction coaching inn of 1933 replacing the New Ship
Inn of the 1630s.
6.12 Dominating fig which together with tamarisk were the only form of vegetation in the
town at the beginning of the C19th. Traditional close paviors are used to clad this passage.
6.14 Although refronted with tripartite segmental bayed widows in 1824, it dates…
6.15 Original paviors have been replaced with concrete slab paving.
6.16 The view north from the Town Hall towards the towers of the Chapel Royal and
Hanningtons is an important street view. Nos 11,12 and13 are C17th buildings with the
mid Sussex red tile hung roofs typical of the Lanes of that period.
6.17 This caused the loss of the 1790’s theatre though No.32 respects the height and
setback of that original building
6.20 As it passes the open space of the Friend’s Meeting House , it is fronted unusually
for this area by single storey shops with restructure 1980’s bold details, but opposite is
Lane End House Grade ll, considered the most attractive C18th building in the OT.
6.21 Reference to bow windows should be replaced with “tripartite segmental bay
windows on the upper floors”.
6.25 The extreme east end of Kings Road and Pool Valley formed the only east west
seafront road prior to Grand Junction Road being built in 1829.
6.26 Which is thought to be the eastern side of the ancient open area called the Knab.
The Lanes.
6.27/ 28 Traditionally paved with closely laid paviors.
The Seafront
6.36 The iconic railings with their teak hand rails were installed together the lamp
standards in the 1880’s by Lockwood, the Borough Surveyor. All cast by Every’s of Lewes.
The 1980’s reproduction reinstated horse and carriage guard railing also a feature
6.37 The beach itself is a major factor even with its pebbles which exist even to low tide.
6.40 the frontage dates from the C19th apart from the 1950’s east addition
6.41 This locally listed building with its cream glazed tiled façade,
North Street and West Street
6.42 and the east side dominated by St Paul’s Church Grade ll * Any future development
opposite should respect with importance of this building, although outside the OTCA
6.47 Further to the north west is Dyke Road, formerly the route via Steyning to London

Roger Amerena
Trees.
There is now modern evidence of street tree planting. Hitherto these did not exist
in the Old Town, as it was surrounded by sheep down
Signage
Street signage is predominately of the alloy signs affixed from the 1940’s onwards
when the cast iron framed porcelain signs were replaced. The last survivor is Poplar
Place. Hannington Lane will soon have these reproduction 1860’s style signs
installed.
Pavements
Presently there are almost twenty different mediums of paving in the OTCA. Traditional
paving to the area should be paviors closely laid with no grout. Originals
seen next to Puget’s cottage which would have come from St John’s Common.
Lighting
Lamp standards are mainly of BLEECO form installed at electrification as from the
1930’s with their characteristic swan necked fitting. The period Windsor lights are
modern. Originally the gas lamp standards were made by Reed of North Road with
a cradle and Camberwell lamp fitted to their tops. See St Georges Church and the
Royal Pavilion estate.
Curb stones
Presently a variety, but early ones of Purbeck Granite can be seen, later clean cut
Perthshire granite is predominant but can be seen in Ship Street north and in East
Street
Roof Tiling
The vernacular until the railway arrived in 1841 was for red tile hang roofs and
westerly facing exposed walls. Then slate appeared.

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