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Looking back: Protective wall with a history of major events
7:00pm Tuesday 9th July 2013 in News
Madeira drive was built in 1888, originally to provide protection to the cliff face of what we now know as Kemp Town.
It runs east of Brighton pier up to the Black Rock and is one of Brighton and Hove’s most treasured roads.
The drive’s construction included both terraced walkways and an elevator built at one end called the Madeira Lift.
The lift, with its beautiful Victorian decor and sublime engineering, opened to the public on May 24, 1890, the 71st birthday of Queen Victoria.
As well as transporting visitors to the seafront, it was a tourist attraction in its own right.
Madeira Drive straightness has made it a haven for motorists and car enthusiasts.
In May 1984, the first ever London- to-BrightonMGsports car rally finished on Madeira Drive.
David Diplock, Brighton solicitor and self-confessed MG aficionado, helped co-organise the rally. Unfortunately, he was not able to drive in the rally as he was too busy administrating.
He said: “It has gone very well. It is a pity about the weather, but I reckon we had a 90% turnout of drivers, which is marvellous.”
The drive has also hosted the National Speed Trials. The Argus spoke to record-breaker David Wilson at the trials in 1983 – in which he managed to power through the finishing line at a jaw-dropping 129mph.
“Luckily it wasn’t raining when I went down but it was slippery.
“I had to be careful going by the funfair because a side wind catches you just as you pass it.”
David added: “The track undulates towards the end and in the conditions the car was very much out of balance.”
It is not just motor shows that the drive is known for – the famous Radio One Roadshow has been held there.
But when they came downin 1985 to perform in front a crowd of 5,000 people, something went terribly wrong.
As the crowd was prepared to go live on Radio One to scream ‘hello’ to the rest of Britain, there was a technical glitch which meant that all lines to London were lost.
However, DJ Adrian John managed to keep the crowd satisfied until Brighton hit the airwaves, more than half an hour late.
ON THIS DAY
1540: King Henry VIII of England annuls his marriage to his fourth wife, Anne of Cleves.
1816: Argentina declares independence from Spain.
1955: Bill Haley And His Comets went to No 1 in the US pop charts with Rock Around The Clock.
1962: Andy Warhol's Campbell's Soup Cans exhibition opens in Los Angeles.
1986: The Parliament of New Zealand passes the Homosexual Law Reform Act legalising homosexuality.
2011: South Sudan gains independence and secedes from Sudan.
The Argus’ popular “Looking Back” feature has been compiled into an A4, soft back book which catalogues the events that have made their mark on the people of Sussex. The fascinating archive of “Looking Back” images dates back to the 1930s when The Argus first started to print photographs. The book costs £6.99 including postage and packing. To order please visit theargus.co.uk/store
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