Thursday, December 9, 2021
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Banana Block opens its doors

BANANA Block, a new living museum and events space, which is attempting to bring back the ‘Belfast Banana’, has opened its doors to visitors at Portview Trade Centre.

The curious connection with the banana goes back to 1911, when east Belfast resident William Richardson became one of the first people to cultivate bananas in the British Isles.

Richardson was the head gardener to Sir Otto Jaffe, the owner of the historic mill, which in the 1930s was a key feature within a vibrant east Belfast community and a global centre of innovation in manufacturing and technology.

The banana connection doesn’t stop there. During the Mill strikes of 1932, bands and workers from both sides of the community went on the march and the only neutral, non-sectarian tune that they knew and could agree on was Louis Prima’s ‘Yes! We Have No Bananas,’ which was played on repeat.

Banana Block has been inspired by these stories of industry, innovation and social change in the heart of east Belfast.

Visitors will not only learn about the industrial past of the mill but will also discover a vibrant community of entrepreneurs and collaborators who are creating and innovating in new ways.

Key features of the experience include a tropical banana plant-filled greenhouse, a sustainable café and live laboratories where visitors will meet artisan producers, including mushroom growers, cheese makers and record collectors.

Brendan Mackin, Chairman of Portview Trade Centre, says: “We are delighted to be opening Banana Block and give thanks to the ongoing support from partners involved in the project, Tourism Northern Ireland, National Museums Northern Ireland and Belfast City Council.

“This has allowed a long standing vacant and derelict warehouse to be transformed into a multi-functional space that will be of great benefit to east Belfast and the wider city.”

n Banana Block is open from 8am to 6pm from Monday to Friday, and from 10am to 6pm on Saturdays.

n Entrance to Banana Block is free. Please visit bananablock.org for further details.

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