History in Structure

Madeira Terrace, Madeira Walk, lift tower and related buildings

A Grade II* Listed Building in Brighton and Hove, The City of Brighton and Hove

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Latitude: 50.8179 / 50°49'4"N

Longitude: -0.1256 / 0°7'32"W

OS Eastings: 532137

OS Northings: 103710

OS Grid: TQ321037

Mapcode National: GBR JP4.R2J

Mapcode Global: FRA B6MX.WDV

Plus Code: 9C2XRV9F+4Q

Entry Name: Madeira Terrace, Madeira Walk, lift tower and related buildings

Listing Date: 20 August 1971

Last Amended: 24 March 2020

Grade: II*

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1381696

English Heritage Legacy ID: 482059

ID on this website: 101381696

Location: Kemp Town, Brighton and Hove, West Sussex, BN2

County: The City of Brighton and Hove

Electoral Ward/Division: Queen's Park

Parish: Non Civil Parish

Built-Up Area: Brighton and Hove

Traditional County: Sussex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): East Sussex

Church of England Parish: Kemp Town St Mary the Virgin

Church of England Diocese: Chichester

Tagged with: Cultural heritage ensemble

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An 865m long, cast-iron covered terrace and walkway, with integral former shelter hall and a 3-stage lift tower, built between 1890-1897 and designed by the Brighton Borough Surveyor, Philip C Lockwood (1821-1908).


An 865m long, cast-iron covered terrace and walkway, with integral former shelter hall and a 3-stage lift tower, built between 1890-1897 and designed by the Brighton Borough Surveyor, Philip C Lockwood (1821-1908).

MATERIALS: predominantly cast-iron or wrought-iron across the whole structure, with timber and English bond, brick elevations to the lift tower and former shelter hall, which also has metal-framed windows.

PLAN: the complex is around 865m long, stretching from the Colonnade, Madeira Drive to the west, to Duke's Mound in the east. It faces south, out to sea and stands against the concrete-faced cliff behind. The terrace and walkway are around 8m in depth, with the covered terrace at sea level supporting the open walkway above. Towards the centre, but offset to the east, there is a former shelter hall which can be accessed from sea level, or via a three-stage lift from the walkway (stage two) and Marine Parade (stage three). There are also five sets of steps along the length of the complex which give access to all three levels. At the western extent there is a ramp from the beach level up to the promenade. The ramp has commercial units within its brick arches. The last cast-iron arch to the western side is also brick-faced and the preceding four arches are half in-filled with brick (former C20 toilet).

EXTERIOR: the monolithic structure is dominated by the cast-iron terrace which is formed of 151 arches. They are round-headed and carried on single columns of a fanciful marine order. The spandrels are scalloped and formed by concentric rings of quatrefoils, creating a pierced sun screen. Their keystones are cast to resemble either a female or a bearded male deity, perhaps Venus and Neptune. The arches are linked by horizontal beams which carry box-guttering and support the railings above. These follow the standard design for the Brighton seafront, having a geometric pattern with the lower panel having diagonal struts with a central, circular motif.

The walkway above the terrace is supported by wrought-iron, shallow and segmental trusses which are fixed into the cliff and can be seen from the terrace. The walkway has four shelters along its length. Each has a wide and shallow-pitched roof, supported by plain cast-iron columns. There are also a good number of decorative cast-iron benches, and late-C20 rectangular planters.

Towards the east end of the terrace there is a single-storey former shelter hall. It has a projecting 11-window centre bay, with recessed wings of seven bays to either side. There is a central entrance which has a classically-styled, round-headed door case with curved pediment and decorative moulding. The paired timber doors are square-headed, and Gothic in character, having quatrefoil type detailing to the upper glass panels. The fenestration to either side is regular and formed of round-headed metal windows with cast-iron fanlights, six glass panes and margin-lights. Cast iron columns with moulded socles, rise up between the windows, terminating in chamfered-bell capitals, which support the concave-curved, metal sun canopy. Below the windows there is a panel of brick in English bond.

The lift tower emerges on the walkway above the ground floor and rises in three sections. The first faces south and is primarily formed of the exit at this level. It is set under a porch supported on cast-iron, composite columns with pierced, cast-iron brackets and supporting a shallow concave metal roof. This in turn, carries a metal lantern-type roof, fronted by a pierced, decorative frieze. The mid-section is constructed of brick, with octagonal corner pilasters, all supporting a moulded, stone entablature and there is a single, slender, round-arched window to each tower return. The top section is at road level and is surrounded to the east, west and south by a square platform with railing that conform to the Brighton seafront design. The north side contains the lift entrance at this level. All sides of the top section have octagonal corner piers, strutting out from each of which are pairs of thin columns which support a concave, pagoda-type, metal roof with broad eaves. The roof is surmounted in turn by a Beaux-Arts type dome which is covered with metal fish-scale tiles. It has a metal dragon figurine at each corner and supports a weather vane, consisting of a globe supported by dolphins. The infill walls of the top section and the roof soffit are of wood and glazed (painted over).

Throughout the complex, stairs along the East Cliff connect to the road above, the walkway and the terrace. They have concrete steps and a rail that follows the seafront design. There are single stairs at either end of the terrace between the beach level and Marine Parade and down to the ramp at the west end. Towards the centre of the western section of the terrace there are two individual stairs and further east, a paired-set, which are laid out to an imperial-type plan.

At the west end the last arch of the cast-iron arcade is in-filled with late-C19 brick in English bond. A further four arches are part in-filled in later-C20 brick forming a former public toilet, which is relieved by blue brick diapering. The area beneath the ramp at the far western extent is brick-faced and has seven, round-arched commercial units which increase in height to follow the profile of the ramp.

INTERIOR: the shelter hall has a large entrance hall with an ornate cast-iron rail separating it from the ground-floor entrance to the lift. To the west and east there are former reading rooms (western example now a bar and the eastern, divided into changing rooms). There are also toilets to either side. Throughout, there are high-ceilings which have rectangular, moulded-plaster decoration. There is also timber wall-panelling to half-height. The fan-lights of the principal fenestration are decorated with stained-glass windows which have an art-deco pattern of green petals with a curved band of blue lights above, surmounted by orange, circular motifs. The floor is timber-boarded and the formal internal doors follow the Gothic pattern of the main entrance, being set within tall, classically-styled door cases. There are also a number of flat-faced late-C20 doors, and late-C20 bar fittings. The lift has sliding, metal grille-type doors and is timber-lined and functional.


Madeira Terrace, Madeira Walk, lift tower and related buildings (Madeira Terrace) were built between 1890 and 1897 to the design of the Brighton Borough Engineer, Philip Lockwood (1821-1908). They were constructed by Messrs J Longley and Co of Crawley, at a combined cost of £13,795
Earlier, between 1830 and 1833, the natural East Cliff at Brighton was made good by the application of a concrete covering, and was then planted up to achieve a green wall which is now believed to be the oldest and largest of its kind in Europe, with over 100 species of flowering plants recorded. The concept of attaching a cast-iron terrace to the cliff was inspired by the innovative construction, expressed at the Great Exhibition, Crystal Palace of 1851. The idea was promoted by one of the great iron foundries of the Victorian period, Macfarlane and Co of Glasgow as early as 1874, but was rejected as being unworkable. By 1880, public funding had been arranged and the concept became a technical reality. Madeira Terrace was built under the terms of the Brighton Improvement Act of 1884 and was open to the east of the Royal Crescent by 1890, but controversy prevented its completion to the west. The result is a monumental structure that is thought to be the longest continuous cast-iron structure in Britain and probably the world. The terrace and walkway are around 865m long and are decorated with cast iron balustrades, 151 delicate arches and include a shelter hall with a 3-stage lift tower to Marine Parade, on the road level above. The detail of the decorative ironwork was specially designed for the ensemble by Lockwood and was constructed in nearby Lewes, at the Phoenix Foundry.
Philip Lockwood was a civil engineer and architect, who was born in Woodbridge, Suffolk and was the son of a builder. He came to Brighton from Arundel where he had worked as an architect and clerk of the works for the local authority, eventually becoming the Brighton Borough Surveyor. Between 1864 and 1867 he created a theatre from the former Brighton Riding School with a form loosely derived from Islamic architecture, and converted the west wing into the Brighton Corn Exchange (National Heritage List for England (NHLE) entry1380398, listed at Grade I). He also adapted further buildings on the same site to form the town's museum (NHLE entry 1380395, listed at Grade II*). Lockwood's work extended to landscaping, including the design and construction of Preston Manor and Park, which is listed at Grade II on the Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest (NHLE entry 1000204).                    
Perhaps due to the public investment required, the concept of a unified, cast-iron, covered terrace on the scale of Madeira Terrace was not taken up at other south coast resorts, or indeed anywhere else in Britain. However the idea was adopted (to a much smaller scale) at some north-western resorts were rain was a familiar acquaintance and also in some spa towns such as Harrogate. However, these schemes were smaller, incremental and installed over a number of years to evolving designs.
The western extent of Madeira Terrace and its access ramp were completed in the late C19, including the addition of brick arches within the ramp, to accommodate small commercial buildings such as the former laundry for the Royal Crescent Hotel. Probably during the early C20, the last arch of the cast-iron arcade to the western end was in-filled with brick in an English bond. Later in the C20 a former public convenience was also added in this area, half in-filling the next four arches. Stone planters were also added along the length of Madeira Walk. The top stage of the lift tower previously had a square-faced, projecting clock, but this is no longer in place. The former shelter hall is now (October 2019) in use as a music venue, with the lift being operated as part of the lease arrangement.

Reasons for Listing

Madeira Terrace, a cast-iron covered terrace and walkway, with integral former shelter hall and a three-stage lift tower, built between 1890-1897 and designed by the Brighton Borough Surveyor, Philip C Lockwood (1821-1908), is listed at Grade II* for the following principal reasons:
Architectural interest:
* as a bespoke and innovative structure utilising the properties of wrought and cast-iron to provide a decorative and technical solution in a challenging location;
* the design by the renowned Brighton Borough Surveyor, Philip C Lockwood, is both dramatic in scale and well-detailed, with high-quality, marine-inspired sculpture and cast-iron decoration;
* the lift shelter and lift tower successfully combine Gothic and Classical design characteristics to create an arresting centrepiece;
* it is comparable in function and design to seaside piers such as the adjacent Palace Pier;
* it survives well including its street furniture, shelter, functioning lift tower and decorative detail.
Historic interest:
* Madeira Terrace is very rare being the only known, land-based, monumentally-scaled, iron promenade in England, and possibly worldwide;
* although converted to electric power, the three-stage lift is an early and rare example of a hydraulic, water-powered lift in a seaside location;
Group value:
* with other seaside structures and buildings including the adjacent Palace Pier and the Royal Crescent, both listed at Grade II*.

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