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A trip down Belfast’s memory lane – in pictures

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Mickey Marley and his roundabout

Mickey Marley and his roundabout

Three-year-old Fiona Shivers at Funderland, 1983

Three-year-old Fiona Shivers at Funderland, 1983

Grand Central Hotel Belfast

Grand Central Hotel Belfast

John and Leslie Gaston

John and Leslie Gaston

Marie McNally visits Frederick Thomas toy shop, Royal Avenue

Marie McNally visits Frederick Thomas toy shop, Royal Avenue

Terry Hooley outside Good Vibrations

Terry Hooley outside Good Vibrations

Mickey Marley and his roundabout

Mickey Marley and his roundabout

Standing outside the puma cage at Bellevue Zoo, 1980

Standing outside the puma cage at Bellevue Zoo, 1980

Santa outside Co-op, York Street

Santa outside Co-op, York Street

Hordes of Christmas shoppers, December 1981

Hordes of Christmas shoppers, December 1981

Players and officials of the Northern Ireland World Cup squad, 1982

Players and officials of the Northern Ireland World Cup squad, 1982

Cornmarket, Belfast city centre, 1986

Cornmarket, Belfast city centre, 1986

Ambassador Cinema

Ambassador Cinema

Anderson and McAuley. Donegall Place, 1993

Anderson and McAuley. Donegall Place, 1993

Christmas display in the window of Anderson and McAuleys, December 1981

Christmas display in the window of Anderson and McAuleys, December 1981

Queen's University Rag Week celebrations, 1970

Queen's University Rag Week celebrations, 1970

Queen Elizabeth II and Duke of Edinburgh at Aldergrove, 1949

Queen Elizabeth II and Duke of Edinburgh at Aldergrove, 1949

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Mickey Marley and his roundabout

Readers can enjoy a trip down Belfast’s Memory Lane, as we take a long look at some of the most iconic venues from our city’s history that hold many childhood memories.

Funderland, King’s Hall


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Three-year-old Fiona Shivers at Funderland, 1983

Three-year-old Fiona Shivers at Funderland, 1983

Three-year-old Fiona Shivers at Funderland, 1983

Fiona Shriver (3) from Finaghy wanted to stay on the miniature helicopter at the Funderland opening preview in 1983, and she wasn’t the only one who loved the iconic amusement attractions. Offering many their first experience of a roller coaster, the city’s skyline was brought to life when the seasonal fun park was in town. Anyone brave enough attempted the Ferris Wheel, giving an unparalleled view of Belfast.

Grand Central Hotel, Royal Avenue

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Grand Central Hotel Belfast

Grand Central Hotel Belfast

Grand Central Hotel Belfast

Now one of Belfast's most luxurious hotels, the original iteration was located near the city hall and opened in 1893 with 200 guest bedrooms and hosted many big star names including The Beatles and The Rolling Stones during the 1960s. By the early 1970s, however, it was taken over by the Army as a military base.

Curzon Cinema, Ormeau Road

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John and Leslie Gaston

John and Leslie Gaston

John and Leslie Gaston

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Pictured are John and Leslie Gaston, from the Gaston family who created the Curzon Cinema, the third designed by architect J McBride Neill. The picturehouse — one of the most well known in the city — was opened in December 1936 and is part of many childhoods. Even the Second World War couldn’t make it close its doors to the public, though it showed its last film in April 1999 (with a Weekend writer there for the final flick, no, you’re crying) and demolished in 2003, making way for an apartment block.

Frederick Thomas toy shop, Royal Avenue

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Marie McNally visits Frederick Thomas toy shop, Royal Avenue

Marie McNally visits Frederick Thomas toy shop, Royal Avenue

Marie McNally visits Frederick Thomas toy shop, Royal Avenue

This toy seller had a number of stores in the city centre, but this image of two-year-old Belfast girl, Marie McNally was taken in its Royal Avenue outlet, near the Central Library. Known for selling prams, it was one of the city's most popular toy stores, along with Leisure World, which was a big attraction for kids during the 1980s and 1990s.

Good Vibrations

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Terry Hooley outside Good Vibrations

Terry Hooley outside Good Vibrations

Terry Hooley outside Good Vibrations

Run by the godfather of punk, Terri Hooley, Good Vibrations Record Store began life in a derelict building in Great Victoria Street, Belfast, opening in 1976. Two years later, Good Vibrations was also a record label, with its first release, a single by Rudi. Hooley would go to sign Alternative Ulster icons, The Undertones, The Moondogs, The Shapes and The Outcasts.

Mickey Marley, city centre

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Mickey Marley and his roundabout

Mickey Marley and his roundabout

Mickey Marley and his roundabout

Were you even a child in the 1960s/1970s/1980s if you didn’t sit on a tiny seat on Mickey Marley’s Roundabout? Immortalised in a song by Barnbrack – go on, you’re singing it in your head now – Mickey and his colourful roundabout could be found in the city centre on a Saturday, but the one of a kind talented man would make appearance at numerous fairs and even visiting children in hospital.

Belfast Zoo

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Standing outside the puma cage at Bellevue Zoo, 1980

Standing outside the puma cage at Bellevue Zoo, 1980

Standing outside the puma cage at Bellevue Zoo, 1980

Two three-year-olds show no fear when standing outside the puma cage at Bellevue Zoo in 1980 — but they’d have been surprised to know the zoo had opened almost half a century previously. It took 150 men to build the 12-acre site on either side of the grand floral staircase, created to reach the top of the hillside, and was opened in March 1934. Despite the upheaval that the decades would bring, the zoo is globally respected for its conservation work.

Co-op, York Street

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Santa outside Co-op, York Street

Santa outside Co-op, York Street

Santa outside Co-op, York Street

A visit to Santa, no matter the year, was popular in the city. In November 1969, many queued up for his arrival to York Street’s Co-op store. Free balloons were on offer for children who were braving the cold to see him — and a lucky few would later get a carefully wrapped present in Santa’s grotto. A trip to the ‘Co’ was the norm for many Belfast families and the store was a fixture of the city for over a century.

Christmas shopping, Castle Lane

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Hordes of Christmas shoppers, December 1981

Hordes of Christmas shoppers, December 1981

Hordes of Christmas shoppers, December 1981

With less than two weeks until December 25, this picture from 1981 suggests that hordes of Christmas shoppers are not a new phenomenon. Thronging along Castle Lane, no doubt many were heading to city centre stalwart, British Home Stores, which opened in Belfast in 1966 and closed in August 2016. BHS was a high street staple, not just in Belfast, but across the UK.

Aldergrove, Co Antrim

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Players and officials of the Northern Ireland World Cup squad, 1982

Players and officials of the Northern Ireland World Cup squad, 1982

Players and officials of the Northern Ireland World Cup squad, 1982

Players and officials of the Northern Ireland World Cup squad leave Aldergrove in 1982 to join up with the rest of their colleagues for intensive training at Brighton, before flying on to the finals in Spain. (From left): Johnny Jameson, Jim Cleary, John O'Neill, David Bowens, assistant secretary IFA, George Dunlop, Derek Wade, IFA international committee member, Derek McKinley, assistant physiotherapist, and Mal Donaghy. The team got through to the second round of the tournament.

City centre, Cornmarket

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Cornmarket, Belfast city centre, 1986

Cornmarket, Belfast city centre, 1986

Cornmarket, Belfast city centre, 1986

Before there was WhatsApp, voice notes and text messages, there was Cornmarket’s bandstand, the place to meet your mates on a Saturday afternoon. If you were lucky, you’d watch a musician belting out a classic tune. At the very least, it was the perfect place to people watch while you waited… and waited for your friends who were invariably late. Plus, plenty of the surrounding shops showcased their wares so it was the ideal location for a potter.

The Ambassador Cinema, east Belfast

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Ambassador Cinema

Ambassador Cinema

Ambassador Cinema

This building to many will only be known as the Wyse Buyse store on the Creagh Road, but until 1972 it was the Ambassador Cinema, which first opened in 1936. At the time when this image was taken it was showing the 1955 Western The Kentuckian, starring silver screen icon, Burt Lancaster and 1956 noir thriller, The Killer is Loose.


Anderson & McAuley, Royal Avenue

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Anderson and McAuley. Donegall Place, 1993

Anderson and McAuley. Donegall Place, 1993

Anderson and McAuley. Donegall Place, 1993

Belfast's original department store, Anderson & McAuley's was part of the fabric of the city's life for more than 150 years. Known fondly as 'Andy Mac's', the beloved family-run store was a must-visit during festive periods, when its front windows were transformed into magical Christmas displays, much to the delight of children.

RAG week

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Queen's University Rag Week celebrations, 1970

Queen's University Rag Week celebrations, 1970

Queen's University Rag Week celebrations, 1970

Established by Queen's University at the fin de siecle of the 19th century, RAG — which stands for Raise and Give, has raised more than £2m for charities in its history. The Student Union-run annual initiative, which has its RAG week each second semester, and throughout the decades has seen students take to parade floats and outlandish costumes — all to raise cash for good causes.

Aldergrove, Co Antrim

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Queen Elizabeth II and Duke of Edinburgh at Aldergrove, 1949

Queen Elizabeth II and Duke of Edinburgh at Aldergrove, 1949

Queen Elizabeth II and Duke of Edinburgh at Aldergrove, 1949

Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh arrived at Aldergrove in May 1949 to give Belfast the freedom of the city. It was the Duke’s first visit to Northern Ireland at the side of the future queen — the couple had been married almost two years when they arrived in Belfast.


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