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.

Madeira Walk Brighton credit Building Green

It is 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. In 2012, the terrace was progressively closed to the public as the structure had degraded and become unsafe. It was finally fenced off in 2016, with four of the six staircases connecting Madeira Drive to Marine Parade also being closed.

What’s happened since the terraces closed to the public?

A design team was appointed in May 2020.  Since June 2020 they have been developing options for the first phase of the restoration.

After the successful crowdfunding campaign, the council focused on maximising these funds to restore a run of 30 arches. However, after three unsuccessful bids, and with the deterioration of the Terrace continuing, in June 2019 the Tourism, Development & Culture Committee allocated limited funding to the appointment of a Design Team to plan restoration of 30 arches, create designs and develop a business model to show how further funding could be obtained to restore the whole Terrace.

The restoration story

  • 2013: Special Inspection report states Madeira Terrace not ‘fit for purpose’ of pedestrian loading, meaning it is too dangerous for people to stand on the historic ‘linear grandstand’
  • 2014: Closure of limited ‘critical bays’ identified with substantial defects
  • May 2014: Deconstruction of two arches/bays reveal significant deterioration to structure & other structural elements requiring further surveys and intervention.
  • 2015: Access to Madeira Terrace closed completely apart from two staircases to east and west (including ramp) of structure and one staircase mid-way along the Terrace providing access from Marine Parade to Madeira Drive 
  • 2016: Restoration planning began and a bid for £4 million government funding (Coastal Communities) was unsuccessful.
  • 2017: The crowdfunding campaign ran from July to November raising £460,000 (£440K minus charges/hosting costs)
  • 2018: Two bids for National Lottery Heritage Fund (NLHF) were unsuccessful. We continue to explore funding options and bids.
  • 2019: TDC committee agree to advertise a tender to appoint design team with the aim of fully understanding the real cost of restoring the Terrace. An advisory panel of community representatives was set up. 
  • 2020: Architect and construction project manager appointed in March.  Remaining design team appointed in May.

The first phase of restoration – ‘MT30’

The design team  began exploring options for the first phase of restoration to restore a minimum of 30 out of the 151 arches that make up Madeira Terrace in June 2020. 

The ambition is to see the Terrace used as a year-round place for local people, sustainable tourism, leisure, recreation and culture.

A real challenge for the project is to embed ‘Circular Economy’ principles in the restoration enabling Madeira Terrace to be used and enjoyed by future generations.

Madeira Drive hosts around 20 large and national events each year and the Terrace is forms an iconic backdrop for these events.


Image credit Building Green