Belfast Telegraph

It was the dancehall that launched thousands of romances... but just where is the Floral Hall glitter ball, under which so many found love?

By Linda Stewart

They're battling to save the much loved Floral Hall at Bellevue - and now campaigners have set their sights on an even more glittering prize.

The Save the Floral Hall campaigners are on the hunt for the large mirrored ball that created the shimmering backdrop to which so many couples fell in love over the years.

Civil servant Heather Henderson, one of the friends who set up the campaign to save the popular ballroom, is appealing for any information that might help them to track down the glitter ball.

"It's a piece of nostalgia. Everyone is reminiscing and commenting on how they or their parents and grandparents fell in love under that glitter ball. It would be lovely to put it back in its rightful place one day," she said.

The glitter ball was unscrewed from the ceiling of the disused dancehall 23 years ago and taken to the former Arts Theatre in Botanic to work its magic on a show called A Slice Of Saturday Night, according to Belfast Telegraph columnist Eddie McIlwaine, who appealed for news of its whereabouts in an article last year.

"We know the glitter ball was recovered from an old store room at the Arts Theatre after it was closed down and that since then it has been refurbished and was used as the centrepiece in at least one other musical," he said.

Another rumour is that the glitter ball found its way to an antique dealer in 1991 for the purposes of restoration.

More than 11,000 people have now 'liked' the Facebook page set up a couple of weeks ago to campaign for the restoration of the famous art deco ballroom.

And the campaign has even won the backing of Sky broadcaster Eamonn Holmes, who commented on Twitter: "They'll miss it when it's gone @FloralHallNI @belfastcc . It's part of North Belfast and North Belfast is part of me."

Heather said: "The Floral Hall was built in the 1930s and was used as a dancehall for many years.

"It catered to all parts of the community, but the art deco building closed in the 1970s after the Troubles started.

"It was played by Pink Floyd, The Small Faces, Lulu and all the showbands, but closed in 1973 and has been empty since. It's a shame it's sitting there, falling to pieces."

Restoration was estimated at £5.5m in a recent economic appraisal by Belfast City Council. According to councillor Clare Hanna, this has been complicated by a "big asbestos problem".

Belfast City Council has said it is aware of the public interest to restore the Floral Hall and is currently investigating costs to repair and paint the external walls.

"The council will continue to look at future options for the hall, but there are no investment plans just yet," it said.

Anyone who knows anything about the whereabouts of the glitter ball is asked to contact the Save the Floral Hall group by Facebook or by email at SaveFloralHall@hotmail.com.

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