Relaunch of shopping centre takes Elaine right back to her roots

Elaine and her late cousin John pictured at her Aunt Frances's house in Watson Street when they were both three-years-old
Elaine and her late cousin John pictured at her Aunt Frances's house in Watson Street when they were both three-years-old
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It’s small wonder that popular actress Elaine C Smith is thrilled to be relaunching Motherwell Shopping Centre on Friday.

Until she was three years old Elaine and her family lived slap-bang in the middle of Motherwell, firstly in a single end in Watson Street and then in a two-room and kitchen in Thorn Street, both barely a stone’s throw from the shopping Centre.

Although the family moved to Newarthill where she went to primary school, Elaine went to Braidhurst High and remembers the tenements and shops on Brandon Street being knocked down to make way for the shopping mall.

She said: “I remember how excited we were that Motherwell was getting a brand new shopping centre, with big stores like Goldbergs and Kirkwoods Fashion.

“I also remember that for me and my pals, as teenagers there was the thrill of having a Wimpey in Motherwell, and how we used to save up to go there to meet our friends.

“I also have great memories of going to discos in North Dalziel Parish Church where I heard ‘Je T’aime’ for the first time.

“I got my first job in the centre. You could get a job at 14 in those days and I worked in Curtess Shoes in Brandon Parade from when I was 14 to 16.

“I must have sold shoes to most people in Motherwell in that time.

“But then like everyone else I went through that teenage thing of wanting to get away, away from your parents, away from where you were brought up.”

Elaine went to Glasgow to study at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, and taught in Edinburgh before coming back to Motherwell to appear in her first ever panto at the Civic Theatre in 1982.

Ironically it was the loss of her father who died in St Andrew’s Hospice 18 months ago that brought it home to Elaine that she had never appeared in her home town in 30 years.

Elaine said: “I lost my mum to breast cancer eight years ago, and when my dad passed away in the hospice, I said I would do a benefit for them.

“So earlier this year I did a show in Airdrie Town Hall, which sold out with 530 people coming along and a waiting list for tickets.

“After the show someone said they were organising a ‘Coming back to Lanarkshire week’, and that’s when I realised I hadn’t played my home town for 30 years.”

In August Elaine put that right with a concert for 1,000 people in the concert hall, just round the corner from the first house she came home to as baby, and near her mother’s flat.

Now Elaine sees helping relaunch Motherwell Shopping Centre on Friday as a hugely positive development for the town.

She said: “I was absolutely delighted to be asked to do it, and couldn’t wait to accept.

“For me it’s about that thing of coming back to your roots, and a chance to say thank you for all that Motherwell has meant to me.

“But it’s also about a fresh look for the centre, and a bit of rebirth, which I am delighted about because the people of Motherwell deserve it.”

You can join Elaine when she brings her own unique style and humour to her home town on Friday as the Brandon Shopping Centre is relaunched as Motherwell Shopping Centre.

This will mark the completion of a £450,000 refurbishment programme, funded by Chester Properties who operate the centre and the launch of the town’s free wi-fi system which is a joint venture between Motherwell Shopping Centre and North Lanarkshire Council.

The official relaunch ceremony will be hosted by Scottish Television presenter Josie Smith, and will take place at the new Motherwell Shopping Centre archway at the Brandon Parade South car park entrance to the main mall from 10.30–11.30am.

Elaine will be joined on a stage by Motherwell FC’s mascots Claret and Amber and one of the players from the Fir Park club.

After cutting the tape she will be available to sign autographs.

As part of the relaunch celebrations, a family fun event will run from 10am-2pm in the main mall.

All the events will be free, with a host of children’s entertainers on hand, including two face painters, juggling, stilt walking, a magician and a balloon modeller.

William Gear, director of Chester Properties, said: “We are delighted to have a star like Elaine give Motherwell Shopping Centre the launch it deserves.

“We are celebrating our new name, the completion of our £450,000 refurbishment programme and our new free wi-fi service, and we would like as many as possible of our shoppers, traders and the public to join us on our big day.”