Saturday 23 September 2017

George Best's home in Belfast opens for visitors

European Heritage Open Day

Belfast: A woman takes a pictures of a plaque at George Best's father's home in Belfast in December 2005. Best died on November 25, 2005. Photo: NICOLAS ASFOURI/AFP/Getty Images
Belfast: A woman takes a pictures of a plaque at George Best's father's home in Belfast in December 2005. Best died on November 25, 2005. Photo: NICOLAS ASFOURI/AFP/Getty Images
BELFAST: George Best's family home in Belfast after the former footballer's death in 2005. Photo: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images
George Best House, Belfast. Photo: Airbnb.com
George Best. Photo: REUTERS/Action Images

Noel McAdam

It was the humble terraced home of a footballing legend. And now the Belfast house where a young George Best lived is being opened to the public.

The property at 16 Burren Way in east Belfast is part of the annual European Heritage Open Day (discovernorthernireland.com/ehod) on September 9.

The legendary footballer lived in the house in the Cregagh estate from the age of two until he was 15, when he left for a trial with Manchester United.

Best famously learned to kick a ball in the back garden.

BELFAST: George Best's family home in Belfast after the former footballer's death in 2005. Photo: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images
BELFAST: George Best's family home in Belfast after the former footballer's death in 2005. Photo: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

Visitors can read the original letters home which George sent to his mum and dad, and his school reports.

For the last four years the house has been available to rent on Airbnb (georgebesthouse.com; from £70/€75) but this is the first year it has been included in the Heritage Weekend.

All profits from the George Best self-catering B&B are channelled back into the community through the East Belfast Partnership, which purchased the property in 2011.

Already, places on all three tours during the day - hosted by local George Best enthusiast Peter Wood - have filled up.

George Best House, Belfast. Photo: Airbnb.com
George Best House, Belfast. Photo: Airbnb.com
Belfast: A woman takes a pictures of a plaque at George Best's father's home in Belfast in December 2005. Best died on November 25, 2005. Photo: NICOLAS ASFOURI/AFP/Getty Images
George Best. Photo: REUTERS/Action Images

Upstairs in the brownstone post-war terraced house the back bedroom has been transformed into a time capsule, complete with the original wardrobe where Best hung his clothes, a copy of the 1959 Tiger annual for boys and a late 1950s transistor radio.

One item of surprise may be a replica of the 1950s Wolverhampton Wanderers' old gold and black kit. Before his love affair with Old Trafford, Best's boyhood team was Wolves.

After George died, his father Dickie Best, who lived in the house, until his own death in 2008 had visitors from all over the world - including Japan, the US, Nigeria and Russia.

Overall, 300 properties are open as part of Heritage Weekend, which is in its 20th year.

Belfast Telegraph

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