Historic terraces

Madeira Terrace was originally built as a covered promenade to attract tourists from London when the new railway opened in the late 1800s.

It was built by borough surveyor Philip Lockwood and opened to the east of Royal Crescent in 1890, before being extended to meet the Aquarium in 1927 to 1929.

Historic photo of Madeira Walk in Brighton.

It’s considered the longest cast iron structure in Britain, running from the Aquarium Colonnade to the Volk’s railway maintenance building. 

Madeira Terrace has weathered the marine environment for more than 100 years. 

Since 2012, the terrace has been progressively closed to the public as the structure degraded and became unsafe. 

It was finally fenced off in 2016, with 4 of the 6 staircases connecting Madeira Drive to Marine Parade also being closed. 

The green wall 

Engineering works in the early 19th century stabilized the east cliff with a special limestone cement to stop them eroding. This was to protect the east cliff where the new buildings of Kemp Town were being established. A balustraded promenade was built along the top of the cliff - Marine Parade - and a series of 7 staircases providing access up and down the cliff face. 

The green wall predates the Terrace structure. In 1872 Euonymus Japonicus, or Japanese Spindle, was established at the foot of the cliff and by 1880 it had reached the top of the cliff face in places. The first phase of Madeira Terrace construction started in 1888, running east from the Royal Crescent steps.  

100 years later, Madeira Terrace underwent significant engineering works. In 1971, sprayed concrete was applied to face of the retaining wall above the level of the deck and the green wall planting may have been removed.

Concrete planters were installed on the deck and fixed to the retaining wall, so the original planting had to be removed. It's not known if the original Spindle plants were transplanted into the planters, or whether the plants we see today were planted in 1971.