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.

Image credit: Building Green.

What has happened since the terraces closed to the public

After the successful crowdfunding campaign in 2017, the council focused on adding to these funds to restore Madeira Terrace.

But, after 3 unsuccessful bids for funding and the deterioration continuing, in June 2019 the Tourism, Development and Culture Committee allocated limited funding to put together a Design Team.

The Design Team’s scope was to:

  • plan the restoration of 30 arches
  • create designs
  • develop a business model to show how we could get more funding to allow further restoration of the whole Terrace

We started to appoint specialists to begin design work for the Terrace’s restoration in late 2019, early 2020. The full team was appointed and in place by May 2020.

The first phase of restoration

The ambition is to see the Terrace used as a year-round place for:

  • local people
  • sustainable tourism
  • leisure
  • recreation
  • culture

Making sure everyone can enjoy Madeira Terrace

A core focus of the project is to allow greater access for everyone to the Eastern Seafront. We’ll do this by providing step-free access to tie in with the lift and staircases on Marine Parade.

Futureproofing Madeira Terrace

A real challenge for the project is to embed circular economy principles in the restoration. This will allow future generations to use and enjoy Madeira Terrace.

Events on Madeira Drive

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

Restoration timeline

2013

A special inspection report stated that it's too dangerous for people to stand on the historic 'linear grandstand'.

2014

Some of the worst affected arches were closed.

Two arches were deconstructed to check the level of damage. It showed significant deterioration to the structure.

This meant we needed to do more surveys and intervene to maintain the arches until we can restore them.

2015

Access to Madeira Terrace closed completely apart from:

  • 2 staircases to the east and west of the Terrace, including the ramp
  • one staircase mid-way along the Terrace, allowing access from Marine Parade to Madeira Drive

2016

Restoration planning began.

A bid for £4 million government funding (Coastal Communities) was unsuccessful.

2017

The crowdfunding campaign ran from July to November and raised £460,000. This amounted to £440,000 after charges and hosting costs.

2018

Two bids to the National Lottery Heritage Fund (NLHF) were unsuccessful. We continued to explore funding options and bids. 

We appointed a project manager for the Madeira Terrace restoration in autumn.

2019

Tourism, Development and Culture Committee agreed to advertise a tender to appoint design team. The aim of this was to fully understand the real cost of restoring the Terrace. 

We set up an advisory panel of community representatives. 

2020

We appointed an architect and construction project manager in March. 

We appointed the final design team in May.

We completed Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) stage 0 to 1, the strategic definition and preparation and briefing.

We began RIBA stage 2.