Jake looks back at King’s Hall of Fame

Kings hall SM Farm

Comedian Jake O’Kane takes viewers on a nostalgic trip back through the archives next week as he tells the story of Belfast’s King’s Hall.

From the annual Balmoral Show to pop concerts, Ideal Home exhibitions to protest marches, election counts and boxing; the King’s Hall has been at the heart of life here since 1934.

The developers have moved onto the site with plans for a brand new £100 million health and wellbeing hub.

Everything will change, but the memories of those – from North Antrim MP Ian Paisley to former world champion boxer Barry McGuigan, Sinn Fein’s Gerry Adams and journalist Ivan Little – come alive in this hour-long documentary.

The site was acquired by the North East Agricultural Association – the forerunner to the Royal Ulster Agriculture Society – which held what has become known as the Balmoral Show there from 1896.

Work began on The King’s Hall, designed by Glasgow architect’s Leitch and Partners, in 1933 and it was opened by the Duke of Gloucester on May 29, 1934.

Until comparatively recently, the King’s Hall was the largest concert venue in the city, with a host of big name stars having appeared there – including The Beatles, U2, Bob Dylan, David Bowie, Thin Lizzy, Jerry Lee Lewis, Brenda Lee and Tammy Wynette, to name a few.

The highlight of the Ideal Home Exhibition every year was its Show House, with long queues at peak times to get a glimpse inside. Elsewhere a fashion show would normally be going on while throughout the hall people would be pushing their wares and handing out a forest of leaflets that people carried round in the free plastic bags that would given out by the score.

An Ulster History Circle blue plaque at the King’s Hall recalls the appearances there, in 1948 and again in 1949, of undefeated World Flyweight Champion boxer Rinty Monaghan.

Other well-known boxers to appear there over the years included Barry McGuigan, Ray Close, Chris Eubank, Dave McAuley, Tyson Fury, Wayne McCullough, Amir Khan and Eamonn Magee.

The King’s Hall Of Fame, is on BBC One NI, Monday at10.35pm

ARCHIVE PICTURES: RUAS

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