Leaving a legacy for the town

Children mark out the footprint of Motherwell Heritage Centre prior to work starting in 1995. Pic: John J McKillop.
Children mark out the footprint of Motherwell Heritage Centre prior to work starting in 1995. Pic: John J McKillop.

North Lanarkshire Heritage Centre celebrates its 20th birthday with a day of activities on Saturday, October 29.

The centre opened in November 1996 at a cost of £4 million on the site of the former Motherwell Baths in High Street.

The idea for a “Motherwell Heritage Centre” was initially formed by Motherwell Heritage Society who requested Motherwell District Council create a facility to house the town’s museum collection.

This was then taken on by councillors who wanted to not only preserve the town’s past, but also play leave a “legacy” prior to the formation of North Lanarkshire Council.

Bellshill councillor Harry McGuigan was a member of MDC at the time the building was being planned and had become leader of NLC by the time it was opened.

He said: “There was a great deal of enthusiasm for the facility, especially with regards to preserving history in the Motherwell and Wishaw area.

“It meant a lot to a number of Motherwell councillors that we should create a building that would be a legacy to the town from the district council following reorganisation.

“It wasn’t just about the past though, as it was seen as equally important to have a focus to encourage future cultural development and community engagement.”

The centre underwent a £100,000 refurbishment and renaming in 2012 when all the council’s archive and modern records were transferred from their previous location in Cumbernauld.

Councillor McGuigan added: “Over time the role of the centre has changed, but I believe it has been an important asset to the town and will continue to be one for many years to come.”

Celebrations kick-off with a screening of 101 Dalmations and then will continue from 11am-4pm with: party refreshments and cake, arts and crafts activities, children’s party games and guided tours of the archives repository at 11.30am and 2pm,

Archivist Wiebke McGhee said: “The centre originally opened on November 1, 1996, with local school children dressed as Victorians and braving the cold.

“However, we thought that 20 years on an indoor celebration for everyone would be nicer.

“The guided tours will show people who haven’t visited for a while what is on offer every day here.”

Entry is free, although small charge applies for the craft activities.