‘Bring back the fountain’ says Vanessa Feltz at Brent Cross Shopping Centre’s 40th birthday party
- Credit: Archant
Crowds made an emotional return to the UK’s first American-style shopping centre in Brent Cross as it celebrated its 40th birthday.
Everyone had a story to tell about the Brent Cross shopping centre in Prince Charles Drive which opened its doors to the public in 1976.
Vanessa Feltz, broadcaster, was at the event to unveil a replica set of wooden animals, which along with a fountain, had been part of the public’s experience for 20 years.
Chanting ‘bring back the fountain’, she added: “I’m absolutely honoured, thrilled and delighted to be invited to cut the ribbon. I used to bring my two little girls and of course they fell of the horse on numerous occasions. It was part of the fun of coming to Brent Cross.”
Crowds enjoyed food and drink supplied by the many of the mall’s outlets including Yo Sushi and Wagamama and discounts in many of the stores including Fenwicks, which will take its special offers into the weekend.
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Harmonic sisters Nicola and Julie McNamee from My Favourite Things sang nostalgic songs such as “It don’t mean a thing” adding extra ambience to the occasion.Maureen Klein was heavily pregnant when she drove to the shopping centre opening day because she ‘didn’t want to miss’ it. She said: “My baby was a bit late and I was hoping nothing would happen. But then I realised I had to go to the Royal Free in Hampstead where my son was born whose 40th birthday is today too.”
Christiane Vassallo visited the shopping centre today to celebrate her 72nd birthday, she had turned 32 on the day of itsopening.
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She said: “It was very exciting when it opened. I can’t believe where the years have gone.”
The centre has welcomed famous visitors and provided backdrops for movie sets in the past. Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales, visited in 1981 and it was used to simulate the backdrop of Hamburg for the 1996 James Bond film, Tomorrow Never Dies.
Members of staff who saw it all as they have worked at the centre since the day it opened were recognised for their service.
A special mention went to 81-year-old Randolph Sandiford, who retired two years ago after 37 years as a security guard.
He said: “I’m proud to be part of the celebrations today.”
Tom Nathan, general manager of the centre, who worked in Clark’s shoe shop as a Saturday boy all those decades ago, said: “It’s an emotional day, celebrating 40 years. People thought the centre was going to be a ‘white elephant’ but the reality is it’s been anything but. Thousands of people wanted to get through the door the minute it opened and at that moment realised what a great place it was.
“We have been so successful for 40 years when so much has changed. We’ve kept our understanding of our customers and what they want. “We have changed and we are able to adapt and remain successful.”