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Belfast City Hall had no tours on a Saturday... because officials feared Goths would invade

By Christopher Woodhouse

Published 22/07/2015

Fans of the dark side: Goths and their fashions
Fans of the dark side: Goths and their fashions
City Hall

The doors of Belfast City Hall are once again open at weekends having been shut for 15 years - apparently over fears of an invasion by Goths who gather outside most weekends.

Councillor Jeffrey Dudgeon also revealed that he hadn't faced problems getting the building open on a Sunday.

The Ulster Unionist explained he had uncovered the reason why the 'Dome of Delight' had been closed on Saturdays and Sundays after he successfully proposed a change to the building's opening hours.

The veteran gay rights campaigner said the doors had been shut over fears of anti-social behaviour by young people who gather in numbers in the grounds of City Hall at weekends. "I discovered that because of a fear of an invasion of Goths, they had closed the front door on a Saturday for the last 15 years," he expained.

Mr Dudgeon said he asked the council to review the Saturday and public holiday opening hours "and it took off from there through various committees".

Previously only available to pre-booked tours at the weekend, the public can now wander freely through the marbled halls of the building - built in the baroque revival style, rather than Gothic.

The reopening of the building will give tourists and visitors to the city another choice of activity on the weekend.

Mr Dudgeon said the weekend tours had proved popular.

"I was there on Saturday and there was a big crowd - anyone can come in and wander around the ground floor at will, but to get to see the upper floors you have to join a tour," he said.

"The building is well worth a visit. With a guided tour you get to detect all the variations and particularities in the likes of the stained glass windows and there's plenty of memorabilia as well."

He said he had only worked in the building a year, but appreciated it more every day.

He added: "Getting it open on a Sunday without any squabbling - I didn't expect it to be that easy, but common sense prevailed."

The 1906 building, designed by architect Sir Alfred Brumwell Thomas, features a vibrant interior, murals by Belfast artist John Luke, as well historical artefacts.

Tours of the City Hall are now available Monday to Friday at 10am, 11am, 2pm, 3pm and 4pm as well as Saturday and Sunday at noon, 2pm, 3pm and 4pm.

 

Goths are a youth sub-culture distinguished by a love of dark clothing, make-up and hair and devotion to bands such as The Cure, The Birthday Party and Killing Joke. It grew out of the punk movement in the Seventies. The bands incorporate Gothic literature and horror movie influences into their music. The Goth culture is also very big in Japan and Germany. Goths can be easily identified by their almost entiely black outfits along with some punk elements such as studded belts, chains and boots.

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