Madeira Terraces: a new vision?
The Council has recently announced a new proposal for Madeira Terraces including self contained serviced glass fronted units within the terraces so that the spaces can be leased or rented as cafes, shops and other businesses. It hopes to completely replace the existing ironwork. The project is likely to cost £20 to £30 million, for which the Council will seek grants and loans. We welcome the principle of these proposals but await further detail to allay concerns about the replacement of the existing ironwork. Similar structures have suffered serious problems with damp penetration. We would also like to know more about the way the new structure will relate socially to the sea-front.
The continuing story of the decay of Terraces took an unexpected turn in May 2016 with the publication by the Victorian Society of an opinion by the Morton Partnership, a well established firm of structural engineers specialising in historic buildings. Brian Morton visited the site with the contractor who worked on the restoration of the Albert Memorial.
Their advice is that the restoration task is relatively simple and that the initial survey carried out by Amey Construction for the Council made the job ‘more complicated than necessary’, and that a further ‘realistic’ survey would be likely to reveal that the work could be ‘simpler’ and the cost of repair much less than that quoted by the Council's surveyor.
The Victorian Society, who placed the Madeira Terraces on its ‘2015 Top Ten Endangered Buildings List’, is calling on the Council to undertake a full new survey by a firm with accredited historic buildings expertise.
Warren Morgan commented at length about the Madeira Terraces in August 2015, asserting that there is no ‘quick fix’ - it needs to be completely rebuilt at a cost of up to £30 million. The Council believes that the terraces are ‘effectively at the end of their life and any further maintenance would require major dismantling akin to rebuilding’. It is seeking funds from the Government Coastal Communities Fund, and work is underway on a ‘Seafront Investment Plan’ with recommendations due later this year. Councillor Morgan has repeatedly linked the restoration of the Terraces with the regeneration of the whole of Madeira Drive.
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An artist's impression of the restored Madeira Terraces (top) (Photograph Wilkinson Eyre), Madeira Terraces today and (below) and in 1905 (from the James Gray Collection)