15 October 2013

Beauty and strength combine in scheme to keep seafront road open

Specially-made bricks and handmade wooden doors are being used in a painstaking scheme to rebuild historic fishermen’s arches on Brighton seafront.

The city council’s transport department is in the middle of a £4m, three-year strengthening of the upper promenade, essential to keeping the A259 open.

In this area, the seafront is supported by a highway bridge structure, which runs in front of low chalk cliffs.

The late Victorian promenade needed replacing due to structural deterioration, causing cracking and allowing rain to leak into arches below.  To comply with current standards the new bridge has been designed to support a 40-tonne vehicle load.

Premises beneath have been rebuilt using a reinforced concrete frame and roof, together with ornate brick facades.  The brick arches themselves are being fabricated off site and brought in.  All the bricks have been specially made by Ibstock following the careful mapping and surveying of the old façade.  Many new bricks are special non-standard shapes and sizes.

New wooden frames, doors and windows are being made by Seth Evans Joinery near Worthing.  Iron railings above have been re-cast from moulds dating back to the 1880s.  Council project manager Leon Bellis has worked closely with the design engineers, Amey, architects Solar Architecture and the contractor C J Thorne.  Council conservation experts and English Heritage have been closely involved to ensure authenticity.

When complete, the 26 new arches will provide 10 double-arched business units or artists’ studios plus new public toilets at the eastern end. 

The section of cycleway on the upper prom, shut since work started, has now re-opened.

Transport councillor Ian Davey said:  “They’re doing a beautiful job.  It’s a surprise to many that this bit of the seafront is an entirely artificial structure, not solid ground. 

“This is a crucial investment in our roads infrastructure as without it we couldn’t keep the A259 running.  It will also be great to get some new businesses operating below to liven up this section of the prom.  I’m sure everyone will welcome a new public toilet for our busy beach.

“Thanks to everyone for bearing with us while the prom was shut.”

This first phase is due to complete early next year.  The next phase covers from Regency Square Subway to the Metropole Hotel and should be complete around winter 2014.  The prom will remain open through this phase but cyclists will be asked to dismount on the shared pathway.