Est. 1935 – History of Brighton Undercliff Walk
Rich in History
Brighton is a city that is rich in history and diversity, offering visitors and locals alike a chance to experience its beautiful beaches, historic landmarks, and stunning architecture. One of the most beloved attractions in Brighton is the Undercliff Walk, a beautiful walkway that runs along the city’s coastline.
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What is the Brighton Undercliff Walk?
The Brighton Undercliff Walk is a famous landmark in the city of Brighton, which stretches for approximately five miles along the coast from Brighton Marina to Saltdean. The walkway offers spectacular views of the English Channel and the Seven Sisters cliffs, making it a popular spot for both locals and tourists alike.
The Origins of the Undercliff Walk
The Brighton Corporation (now Brighton and Hove City Council) first came up with the idea of constructing a walkway along the city’s seafront and also improving the city´s sea defences in the early 20th century. The construction of the Undercliff Walk began in 1931 and was completed in 1935, providing pedestrians with a safer and more accessible route along the coastline. The walk was officially opened on 4 July 1933 by the Minister of Health, Sir Hilton Young, at Ovingdean Gap. This stretch of the walk was 2.3 miles long, stretching from Black Rock to Rottingdean.
The Design and Construction of the Walkway
The Undercliff Walk was designed by borough engineer David Edwards and built by local builders F.G. Longley & Son. The construction of the walkway used over 13,000 tons of cement and 150,000 concrete blocks was used in the building process. The project involved around 500 workers and was considered a significant engineering feat for its time. The use of Welsh miners for the skilled rock work sparked controversy among some at a time of severe depression.
Changes in the History of Brighton Undercliff Walk Over the Years
Since its construction, the Brighton Undercliff Walk has undergone several changes to improve safety and accessibility. In 1935, an extension was added to Saltdean Gap, which was officially opened by Mayor Edward Denne on 29 July of that same year. The last 200 yards of the sea wall to the borough boundary were opened a few months after the initial opening, and in 1963, the Chailey Rural District Council added a 310-yard extension to the walk. In the 1950s, the walkway was widened to accommodate more pedestrians, and in the 1960s, a new section of the walkway was constructed to provide access to the newly built Marina.
The extension also included the construction of a sea-water pool that measured 100 feet by 35 feet and boasted an incredible location below the cliffs. Although it lacked facilities, the pool quickly became a beloved spot for locals and tourists alike.
In 1989, the pool was privately managed, but a severe storm in January 1990 caused £100,000 worth of damage. As a result, the pool was filled with concrete in 1994.
However, in 2014, a new feature called ‘Connors Court‘ was introduced, replacing the pool. The court is a tribute to Connor Saunders, a popular 19-year-old who tragically passed away in 2012 in Rottingdean. It serves as a place of remembrance for his life and love for football.
The Undercliff Walk Today
Today, the Brighton Undercliff Walk remains a popular attraction for locals and tourists alike. The walkway provides stunning views of the English Channel and the Seven Sisters cliffs and is home to several beachside cafes and restaurants. Visitors can also access the walkway via several staircases and ramps located along the coastline.
The Brighton Undercliff Walk is a beautiful and historic landmark that showcases the rich history and diversity of the city of Brighton. The walkway offers visitors and locals alike a chance to experience stunning views of the English Channel and Seven Sisters cliffs while enjoying the area’s unique flora and fauna.
- What is the distance of the Brighton Undercliff Walk?
The Brighton Undercliff Walk covers a distance of approximately 5 miles.
- When was the Brighton Undercliff Walk constructed?
The Brighton Undercliff Walk was constructed between 1931 and 1935.
- Who designed the Brighton Undercliff Walk?
The Brighton Undercliff Walk was designed by borough engineer David Edwards.
Sources: My Brighton and Hove website refers to its Sources and Bibliography section based on the Encyclopaedia of Brighton by Tim Carder. The New Encyclopaedia of Brighton is available at Waterstones.