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Sunday, June 16, 2024

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“Making an exhibition of ourselves” – Central Station at 30!

Central Station pub in Islington’s Kings Cross is celebrating 30 years as an independent LGBT+ venue run by owners Martin Mason and Duncan Irvine.

To mark this milestone, the pub is holding an exhibition inside the pub during opening hours, celebrating the impact the venue has had across London’s LGBT+ community for three decades. Says Duncan: “It just seems like a Central Station thing to do.”

Central Station

“Making an Exhibition of Ourselves” charts the pub’s LGBT+ history with many photos, press cuttings, letters, memories and oral histories from the last 3 decades. Exhibition items include the opening night featuring Dave Lynn; recollections of the attack by a far-right gang using gas canisters to smash windows just six months after opening; the late Queen Mother’s response to the invite to her 100th birthday party in the bar; the many fundraising events to help fight the AIDS pandemic, as well as recounting the many fetish and other clubs held in the Underground, where gay men and many others could interact with each other in a safe environment (and which is still going strong today!)

Many social and campaigning groups were formed/met at Central Station, including:

  • Countdown on Spanner, which went on to help change the law regarding consensual S&M sex
  • M.F.A., now a major charity campaigning on gay men’s sexual health issues
  • Rank Outsiders, who led the way in promoting LGBT people’s right to being accepted in the armed forces
  • Stonewall F.C. and King’s Cross Steelers R.F.C, the first gay rugby club in the world
  • Grace’s Cricket Club, the first out gay cricket club in the world
  • FTM London, a peer support group run by and for transmasculine people
  • Sweet Wednesday, a major trans social club that has met at the pub twice monthly for 13 years

…and many, many more!

In 2021, Central Station received a pink heritage plaque from Islington’s Pride, a major LGBT+ heritage project from Islington Council, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund. The plaque pays tribute to Central Station’s unique contribution to the LGBT+ community which has impacted far beyond the borough. The Islington Local History Centre houses the Central Station archive, which contains hundreds of items and objects of note. Central Station will contribute more material to this collection.

Martin Mason, co-owner says:

“Central Station became known as a warm and welcoming venue for people who were coming to terms with their sexuality when the social climate was very different than it is now. For many of the pub’s patrons, it was their first time ever in a gay venue and often many had not come out to family and friends. We are proud of the impact Central Station has had on people’s lives, and after 30 years it’s time for us to celebrate that.”

They also hope to stage some live discussions during the month highlighting the work that so many people put in to help gain equality, both legally and also culturally. Details to follow.

The exhibition will run from Thursday, 14th July until Sunday, 18th August from 5pm – 9pm daily with admission free, but donations to the pub’s GoFundMe page are encouraged.

For more info, visit their website here.

Central Station, 37 Wharfdale Rd, King’s Cross, London, N1 9SD.
Nearest Station: Kings Cross

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