THE work of South Belfast schoolchildren will play a part in the story of the Tropical Ravine when it reopens.
Pupils from Botanic Primary School are taking part in the ‘Writing the Ravine’ project which also saw participation from residents living near Botanic Gardens, Sandy Row Pensioners’ Club and the Skyway Club among other users of the park.
P4 to P7 classes visited the Tropical Ravine to see how work was progressing on the major restoration project which is expected to open next year and be restored to its former period glory – but with a modern 21st century twist.
The Writing the Ravine project consisted of workshops and open days at the Ulster Museum and Palm House in early Spring, facilitated by author Jan Carson and poet Emma Must, focusing on the fascinating and sometimes fantastical heritage of Botanic Gardens and the Tropical Ravine. Among the historical highlights were hot air balloon ascents with the largest balloon in the world and the ‘King of Niagara’ Charles Blondin carrying a man on a tightrope on his back.
The two open days gave the public the chance to share their memories of the Tropical Ravine and Botanic Gardens with over 400 people taking part in the popular project.
Writing from the workshops and memories from the open days have now been passed on to local illustrator Peter Strain to be incorporated into a 27-metre art piece that will adorn the hoarding around the Tropical Ravine. The timeline will begin with the opening of Botanic Gardens in 1828 right up to 2017 when the Ravine reopens.
Councillor Matt Garrett, Chair of Belfast City Council’s People and Communities Committee, said: “When the restoration work is completed, the Tropical Ravine will be transformed into a must-see attraction for old and new visitors alike. It’s fantastic that local schoolchildren are getting involved in this art project as well as local residents and users of the gardens to play a key part in the story of the Ravine.”
The Tropical Ravine is currently closed to the public as part of the £3.8 million restoration project. Belfast City Council has contributed £1.5 million to the restoration project as part of its Investment Programme. The Heritage Lottery Fund is contributing £2.3 million towards the refurbishment and the Friends of Belfast Botanic Gardens have also contributed generously to the repairs. The work is being carried out by McAleer and Teague.
For more information on the restoration of the Tropical Ravine, visit the council website at www.belfastcity.gov.uk/tropicalravine