Marine Parade forms the country’s most impressive marine facade, the major feature of the East Cliff outstanding conservation area; it is especially impressive when viewed from afar, for instance from the Palace Pier. Commencing in about 1790, development continued eastwards from the Steine until about 1850 when Kemp Town had been reached, and was protected against coastal erosion by a huge sea-wall constructed along the length of the cliff in 1830-8. With its magnificent setting, all the development was of a high-class nature, and it constitutes much of the Regency architectural splendour of the town. There are many listed buildings.
Changes over the years
The roadway itself, which runs from the Steine to the former borough boundary at Boundary Road, was widened, and the promenade constructed, in 1827-38 when the sea-wall was built below. The Marine Parade then became part of a very fashionable equestrian and carriage drive from Kemp Town to Brunswick Town, with society gathering every day to see and be seen. In 1880 the old wooden railings were replaced by the present cast-iron rails with their dolphin motifs, and the old shelters on the promenade opposite Lower Rock Gardens, Marine Square and Eaton Place were erected in about 1883. The ornate lamp standards date originally from the 1930s. The Madeira Lift, a listed building decorated with four dragons and an ornate dolphin weather-vane, was inaugurated on 24 May 1890 and descends into the Madeira Drive shelter hall, now Clown’s Cafe.
Name changed in 1908
In 1908 the name of the road was officially changed to Marine Parade King’s Cliff in honour of King Edward VII who stayed with his daughter at 1 Lewes Crescent. From 1824 the road was continued along the cliff top to Rottingdean as the Newhaven Turnpike with a tollgate at Roedean, but in 1897 this road was closed due to erosion of the cliff and Roedean Road was constructed further inland as an alternative route. On 22 July 1932, with the cliffs protected by the new Undercliff Walk, a 60-foot-wide highway, Marine Drive, was opened to Rottingdean by P.J.Pybus, Minister of Transport, at a cost of £105,000.