What and where is Brighton Greenway?

Photo:The Northern Greenway

The Northern Greenway

Photo reproduced with permission: http://prestonville.org.uk/

Photo:The cast iron bridge over New England Road, with 'Jenny Lind' sculpture. Access to Brighton Greenway is just after the bridge.

The cast iron bridge over New England Road, with 'Jenny Lind' sculpture. Access to Brighton Greenway is just after the bridge.

Photo:Fence along Brighton Greenway, with railway tools

Fence along Brighton Greenway, with railway tools

Photo reproduced with permission: http://prestonville.org.uk/

Photo:Friends of Brighton Greenway at work

Friends of Brighton Greenway at work

Pedestrian and cycle way from Brighton Station

By Elspeth Broady, Secretary of Friends of Brighton Greenway

Brighton Station Greenway is a pedestrian and cycle way from Brighton Station through the New England Quarter. It’s one of Brighton’s most urban sites of Nature Conservation Importance, a significant wildlife corridor since 1992. It’s also part of Brighton’s 19th century railway heritage. The Northern section has been open to the public since 2011, but many Brightonians still don’t know it exists.

A pleasant walk from Brighton Station

The ‘Northern’ Greenway runs from New England Road, with access via steps up the embankment, over the Grade II listed cast iron bridge to Stroudley Road. It can also be accessed from Boston Street or from Stroudley Road, where it will link up shortly with the ‘Southern’ section. This is currently under construction and will lead to the new cycle hub at Brighton Station. It should provide a pleasant walk way from Brighton Station to the north eastern areas of the town, avoiding the dense traffic of the London Road.

Railway past

The Greenway follows the track of what was the ‘lower goods line’ running north from Brighton Station’s lower goods yard. It was originally built as part of the celebrated Brighton Locomotive Works where from 1852 until 1957 the London, Brighton & South Coast Railway built its locomotives. The Works suffered from its constricted position on a slope and towards the end of the 19th century was extended by building out over the lower goods track on a series of brick pillars. These are the pillars which can still be seen today on the Greenway.

Protected under the Brighton Wildlife Strategy

The Works buildings were demolished in 1969 and the site became derelict. In the early 1990s, Brighton Borough Council initiated its redevelopment. The disused lower railway line had by this time become a significant wildlife habitat and in 1992 it was designated a Site of Nature Conservation Interest (SNCI) protected under the Brighton Wildlife Strategy.

Development of the old Locomotive Works land

Sainsbury’s purchased much of the old Locomotive Works land, their initial plan being to build a huge superstore to the north of the station. This proposal was, however, soundly rejected in 1998. An alternative approach was then encouraged “to develop a vibrant mixed-use urban quarter … an exemplar of 21st century sustainable urban development” and a Consortium, including Sainsbury’s, Railtrack and developers QED, together with the Council, developed the Masterplan for the site, approved in 2003.

The 'Jenny Lind' sculpture was installed

The disused railway track SNCI formed an integral part of the site brief, the aim being to “preserve the green corridor of informal open space” and “enhance the ecological value of the site”. Construction started on the New England Quarter in 2004, and the planting and landscaping of the Greenway took place in 2008. However, access to the public was delayed until early 2011 by negotiations between the Council and Network Rail. It took another year and a half before the metal sculpture of a steam locomotive – the ‘Jenny Lind’, built at the Works – could be installed on the New England bridge, finally giving some recognition to the origins and identity of the pathway.

The present

The Brighton Greenway initially looked very attractive, with wild flowers and grasses blooming abundantly. But few people knew it was there. Very quickly graffiti, litter, dog mess and overgrown plants made it feel less than welcoming. Seating was badly tagged as were the giant tools along the eastern fence, representing the clinker shovels and other implements used on the railway.

Friends of Brighton Greenway set up in May 2015

During 2014 two neighbourhood groups representing users of The Greenway - Prestonville Community Association and Ditchling Rise & Area Residents’ Association – got together with other interested groups to organise monthly clean-up days and meetings from November 2014 and in May 2015 we set up Friends of Brighton Greenway.

Priorities for action

After our five clean-up days, the Greenway looks more cared for with less overgrown vegetation and litter. A lot of tagging has been removed. Friends of Brighton Greenway have started to identify priorities for action to ensure that the Greenway is maintained as a pleasant green space for all and that its status as a wildlife corridor is respected. Further, we are very concerned to acknowledge its railway origins; we want to make it more ‘visible’. This should be helped by the forthcoming extension up to Brighton Station.

Inviting more people to get involved

We’d love to have more people from the area get involved in caring for this intriguing space. We’re planning a community picnic and a guided walk along the Greenway on Sunday 13th September 2015 to mark Heritage Open Door weekend. You can find out more via Twitter @BtonGreenway or by contacting us at &#;strong&#;fobrightongreenway@outlook.com&#;&#;strong&#;

 

[Previously published in the North Laine Runner, No 235, July/August 2015]

This page was added on 23/08/2015.

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