Northern Ireland news

Tropical Ravine reopens after £3.8 million restoration

The newly refurbished Tropical Ravine in Botanic Gardens, Belfast. Picture by Mal McCann

Belfast's 'Tropical Ravine' to Victorian splendour has been reopened following a £3.8 million refurbishment.

The Botanic Gardens building has undergone major restoration, with many original features of the site reinstated and species of plants preserved.

The aim of the refurbishment was to transform the listed building from a crumbling structure into a must-see attraction with the new-look ravine now split over two levels.

The building has been modernised, making it more energy efficient with new triple-glazed windows installed to retain heat and create the right environment for the tropical plants it is home to.

Visitors will be able to learn about the conservation work and plant collection, thanks to new interactive and digital exhibits.

First opened in the 1880s and home to some of the world’s oldest plants, it closed in 2014 in need of major repairs.

Hundreds of unique plants, some estimated to be over 150 years old, were removed during the restoration and taken to other glasshouses on the Botanic site for safekeeping.

The refurbished greenhouse, which will open to the general public from today, was restored to its former glory with funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), Belfast City Council and the Friends of Botanic Gardens.

Lord Mayor of Belfast Nuala McAllister, who reopened the Tropical Ravine, said: "This was a mammoth task and was more than three years in the making but I think when people come and see it for themselves, they will agree it has been well worth the wait.

"The Tropical Ravine is a unique asset for Belfast and has always been a popular visitor attraction.

"Thanks to this spectacular makeover I have no doubt that it will continue to attract new visitors and will be a fantastic addition to our tourism offering."

Sir Peter Luff of the HLF added: "The Tropical Ravine is a true heritage treasure that rewards visitors with a unique, entertaining and educational experience.

"It is thanks to National Lottery players that the Ravine’s fine Victorian built heritage and hugely important plant collection have been preserved for the people of Belfast and beyond to enjoy for many more years to come."

Frank Caddy of Friends of Botanic Gardens said: "We are delighted, we have achieved so much more than the restoration of the roof which is what we began by lobbying for.

"The Tropical Ravine has been transformed into a fantastic visitor and educational space, an outstanding amenity that will last for future generations."

Botanical artist Marianne North, aka Genevieve Swift from the Theatre Without Walls at the re-opening of the newly refubished Tropical Ravine in Botanic Gardens, Belfast. Picture by Mal McCann

The newly refurbished Tropical Ravine in Botanic Gardens, Belfast. Picture by Mal McCann

The building, which is home to some of the world’s oldest plants, dates back to 1887. Picture by Mal McCann

 

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