Autumn clear up

imageA beautiful autumn day today for the dozen or so of us working up on Brighton Greenway. The Greenway’s colours come into their own as the Crimson Glory vine (turns to yellow and rust tiger stripes (not quite the Crimson of its name, at least yet), and the birches go butter yellow.

There was a lot of litter to clear, but that done, we started on cutting back the buddleia, particularly where the path narrows along the west side.

That buddleia was never meant to be there and has probably not be pruned for years. We’ve cut out many branches and cut some plants back to the base. They look a bit unsightly for the moment, but they are likely to grow back in a more controllable form in the spring. In the meantime, the extra light and space should allow the lovely red stemmed dogwood  (cotinus) and a hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna) to thrive. We’re also planting daffodil bulbs in that area to make it more inviting in the spring. And there’s potential there for planting something else, more colourful maybe, that suits the shady site. Do let us know any ideas …

Buddleja is a hefty shrub and yet again, we spent a lot of time cutting up the pruned wood and dragging it to the Boston Rd entrance. This is where we have to rely on Brighton and Hove Council. As volunteers, we can do a lot but we simply don’t have vans to collect the large amount of green waste looking after Brighton Greenway sometimes generates.

imageDespite another buddleia mountain, we left the Greenway looking clearer and less overgrown. Jess tidied up our lavender and rosemary beds, which are looking happy now we’ve had a spell of rain.

Apart from clearing buddleia, the other main task was dismantling the wonderful Brighton Photo Fringe Exhibition and painting out random tagging. Many people have suggested the exhibition should stay, but our agreement was for a month, so it had to come down. Colourstream staff were working very hard to remove the photo boards this afternoon and we painted out any surface scars on the wall. It’s been a real success in showing what can be done in an unusual space, and we’d love to mount another exhibition there soon if we can. Again, ideas? Let us know.





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End of the season – workday Sunday 13th

It’s the end of the season and thus far, we’ve not had much rain. The bright crisp days are great for walking along Brighton Greenway, with the leaf colours changing.

The Brighton Photo Fringe exhibition is being dismantled shortly and we’ll be making good the wall at our next workday. It still up this weekend if you haven’t had the opportunity to see it … Every time I’ve walked up there in the last few weeks, there’s been someone standing looking at the photographs. I think it’s been a real success in an unusual area, and it would be great to look at further temporary exhibitions.

We’re meeting on SUNDAY 13th NOVEMBER to do some solid clearing of the shrubs and ivy that have grown so much this last season. So far, the path hasn’t got waterlogged and the leaves haven’t got slippery. We hope to be planting some bulbs along the pathway to make that more inviting in the spring ….

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Good ghosts of the Greenway – the history

The good ghosts of the Greenway are the railway workers and engineers who worked in what was Brighton’s renowned Locomotive Works: engineers such as John Chester Craven, William Stroudley and J.R. Billinton.

There’s little evidence left of the Locomotive Works, which were opened in 1852 and closed in 1958. The northern key-the-works-from-eastd-1920section of Brighton Greenway is in fact the ‘lower goods line’, constructed in 1852, which used to carry freight trains into the goods yard below Brighton station.

The pillars and archways you can see on the Greenway are among the few remaining features from the original Victorian buildings. The 28 pillars to the east side were part of the extension commissioned by J.R. Billinton to provide extra space for the highly restricted works: a platform was built out over the lower goods line to support a series of workshops for millwrights, welders, and copper smiths.

greenway-tools-20-7-10This is why there are giant tools on the brick pillars, replicas of the tools used by the firemen to shovel coal into steam engines. And of course why there is a giant ‘ghost train’ crossing the New England Rd bridge … this is a replica of the Jenny Lind class of locomotives that were much used by the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway.

If you’d like to know more about the history, here are the detailed notes from a guided historical walk through the New England Quarter and Viaduct Rise areas: notes-for-historical-walk-from-brighton-station-to-london-rd-station




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Photo exhibition no. 32 in place

photofringe-blackboard-1-10-16 img_6236 img_6237 img_6238 img_6239 img_6240 img_6241 photos-1-10-16img_6264


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Making hay and battling buddleja

ryan-scything-10-16 Meadow maintenance is not as easy as sowing the seed and leaving it. After the season’s flowering, the spent plants need to be cut back – not too short, but short enough. One of the keys is to try to control the plants you don’t want … dock weed, fat hen and nettles … and not to allow too much green matter to rot down to over-enrich the soil. It’s also about providing some light and space for the wildflower seeds we do want to come up again. The best way to do this is with a scythe.

Luckily, at today’s workday, we had two doughty scythepersons on hand. It’s taxing work, but they managed to clear both the perennial meadow area and half the long annual wildflower strip.

the-wheelbarrow-10-16Of course, it was then a case of having to rake up the scythings, and wheelbarrow them to a collection point. We’ve created another mountain of green waste that now needs to be taken for recycling into soil enhancer. Some of it we’ve kept back to create bug-friendly areas further along the Greenway.

We did more cutting back too of the large shrubs, in particular, the thuggish buddleja.buddleia-1-7-16 Buddleja davidii ‘Empire Blue’) were originally planted in only three locations on the west side, but as buddleja will, they have invaded right along the west wall and the east fence. They can be absolutely beautiful plants with a pleasant scent and intense purple or white flowers. They attract butterflies (hence their common name of butterfly bush) and provide food for a range of insects, who then provide food for other wildlife, in particular birds.

john-ellen-10-16But – and for an urban site like ours, this is a big but: they grow very fast, invade and swamp out other species. Their seeds are easily dispersed. And at this time of year, with rainfall, they tend to fall over the path, with the result that people divert onto the meadow, creating muddy areas. They block light and sight lines down the pathway. They are potentially destructive; they are also hard work.

To keep them in check, we are cutting them right back and quite possibly removing some of them altogether. Buddleja flower on new growth, so the advice is to cut right back to the ground in the spring. That is assuming stems that can be neatly pruned with loppers beating-buddleja-10-16or secateurs: we had to use heavy-duty pruning saws on a well-established shrub today. Hopefully, we can gradually tame a number, while removing some of the ‘unplanned’ plants or keeping them fairly tidy.

Buddleja are non-native plants; Buddleja davidii comes from China. The genus was named by the Swedish botanist Linnaeus after an English botanist, Adam Buddle (1662-1715) while the ‘davidii’ acknowledges the Basque naturalist, Armand David (1826-1900) who brought plant specimens back from China. The first recorded presence in the UK was in 1922: a recent, but now ubiquitous, shrub.



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Setting up photo exhibition


img_3297 img_3448 img_3471Brighton Greenway’s first ever outdoor exhibition is up and running. As part of Brighton Photo Fringe, seven photographers who use analogue film rather than digital have their work displayed in the seven alcoves at the end of the Greenway by the New England Road bridge.

This has been a collaboration with Lucy Round of Colourstream, who first approached us in August. She’s kept faith with us, and we’ve kept faith with her … It has been a matter of faith. Brighton Greenway is an unusual site for an exhibition, but we’ve always felt the long winding path, the historically interesting walls and the fences lent themselves to outdoor display. It wasn’t easy … but people came together to help.

How it began

How it began

Painting with Jess, the recycling dog

Painting with Jess, the recycling dog

Repainting ...

Repainting …

The photographers are:

Edurne Iriondo –

Liz Johnson Artur –

Nima Elm –

Steve Glashier –

Toby Mason –

Tony Wainwright –


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Brighton Photo Fringe – we’re venue 32

7-wondersWe always thought Brighton Greenway was a fantastic space for art performance and exhibition. Last year, Natasha from Bird Studios composed and performed a dance along the twisting path. This year, we’re hosting an outdoor exhibition during October for Brighton Photo Fringe.

Work by seven photographers is going to be reproduced on photoboards and mounted in the arches at the north end of Brighton Greenway, just down from the New England Road iron bridge (with the locomotive sculpture). The exhibition is called The 7 Wonders of Film: “designed to promote and celebrate the beauty of the medium that is film photography”.

bpf-arches We’ve just been preparing the site, clearing overhanging shrubs and tomorrow, it’s painting. We look forward to lots of visitors to Brighton Greenway. It’s an edgy site, an intriguing combination of wildlife corridor (hence the messy wildflowers, some of which may be more recognisable as ‘weeds’ but full details on our Wildlife page), vestiges of Victorian railway architecture and a very 21st century urban walkway.



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