ELAINE C Smith today took centre stage when she returned to her home town to launch the revamped Motherwell Shopping Centre.

And the actress and comedienne turned back the clock by recalling how she got a job in a local shoe shop before leaving the area in search of stardom.

She lived in a single-end in Watson Street before moving to a two-room-and-kitchen in neighbouring Thorn Street and vividly remembers the old tenements and shops which were knocked down to make way for the Brandon Centre mall.

Speaking before today's launch, Elaine 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 Bar. We'd save up our money and go to meet pals there"

She added: "I got my first job in the centre. You could get a job at 14-years-old 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 every- one else I went through that teenage thing of wanting to get away from where you were brought up."

Today she was back in town and on a makeshift stage to rename the local retail mall Motherwell Shopping Centre, following an upgrade costing £450,000 by owners, Chester Properties.

Elaine 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."

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

gordon.thomson@ eveningtimes.co.uk