Following a period of renovation, the Botanic Gardens in Belfast City are open to visitors again.

The Botanic Gardens in Belfast City, home to the Palm House and the Tropical Ravine are open to the city's population after a seven year period of renovation, costing one million pounds.

Northern Ireland Environment Minister David Mitchell presided over the official opening ceremony and his wife Pam cut the ribbon.

The Palm House was built in 1839 and the two wings were completed in 1840, with the dome added in 1852. The Palm House in particular was showing it's age, but one man behind it's renovation was Lord Mayor of Belfast Thomas Patton. He was part of a committee to decide on the fate of the Palm House building.

When we looked at it, there’s no doubt about it, it was in a terrible mess.

Some of the committee members wanted to pull it down but the final decision ensured it would be restored. When they saw the results of the work on the Palm House, they decided to renovate the two wings as well.

Now that the people of Belfast can be proud of what they have.

Reginald Maxwell Area Manager of Belfast City Parks Department was closely involved in the renovation work on the Tropical Ravine which dates back to the 1880s. He considers the Ravine to be a special feature in itself, describing it as a hole in the ground with a roof put on top, not a typical glasshouse. 

You've got  a glasshouse type roof, but not the side walls, and you've got this deep ravine down in the ground like a valley with all these kind of caves and grottoes and interesting walkways and paths and systems and the plants growing on these rock features and around them.

An RTÉ News report broadcast on 19 May 1983. The track accompanying this clip is ‘Forever Autumn’ by Justin Hayward.