Madeira Drive is the road which runs east of Brighton Pier along the seafront to Black Rock. On its seaward side runs the Volks Electric Railway, which - small though it is - can legitimately claim to be Britain's first electric railway. On the landward side of the Drive is a cliff wall above which runs the main east-west road, Marine Parade.
In the early part of the nineteenth century the sea came right in to the foot of the cliff, and Madeira Drive is built on an area of reclaimed land whose primary function is to protect the cliff face from erosion from the sea and thus protect the coast road above.
Today the Drive is an important venue for many motoring events. It is the finish line for 'runs' by Minis, Morris Minors, Lamborghinis, veteran cars, coaches, and motorcycles of all descriptions - and also for the London to Brighton annual cycle ride.
If you're interested in the motor vehicle, both in the present and in the past, then Madeira Drive is the place to visit at regular intervals throughout the year.
As well as an annual cycle of motoring events, the Drive has lots of traditional seaside entertainment from crazy golf, children's play ground, games arcade, fish and chip restaurants and cafes, fishing tackle shop, and, of course, the Volks Electric Railway which will take you from one end of the Drive to the other, but in a very unique, not-to-be-missed sort of a way!
Maderia Drive is essentially a Victorian development and boasts today a peculiar piece of Victoriana in the shape of a cast iron mezzanine floor (!!) which runs for around 2,800 feet along the side of the cliff at about half way up its height. The 'floor' which is 25 feet wide is known as Madeira Terrace, and under it is a colonade lined with cast iron columns.
Unfortunately it all has an air of faded elegance, surrendering year on year to the elements and rust. (To be fair, the ironwork was repainted in 2006.) Today Madeira Terrace is a perfect viewing platform on days such as the Historic and Commercial Vehicle Society Run. It's a great vantage point for getting a 'long view' of events along the Drive.
The Drive is an important seafront parking area, and if it were not for the dramatic vista provided by the sea, and the seaside entertainments, the area would look like a run down car park. But at weekends when an event comes to the Drive - whether its motoring, athletics or cycling - it buzzes with excitement.