LGBT+ pub marks milestone with exhibition

Central Station celebrates 30th birthday by putting memorabilia on display

Friday, 1st July — By Charlotte Chambers

Central Station IMG_6519

Co-owner Dennis Irvine enjoys a pint at LGBT+ pub Central Station

IRREPRESSIBLE septuagenarian Dennis Irvine – who has been pulling pints at one of Islington’s only LGBT+ bars since it opened in 1992 – has definitely earned himself a cold one.

Central Station is marking its milestone 30th birthday by launching its own exhibition charting the history of the venue in King’s Cross.

“Making An Exhibition of Our Ourselves” will be open at the bar for two weeks.

And among the memorabilia due to go on display are press cuttings from the night far-right extremists threw gas canisters into the pub, just six months after it opened.

Mr Irvine described how, as he drove around with the police looking for the perpetrators, he was convinced it was the end for his fledgling business and thought all the customers would have run away, never to return.

“All the way back [in the car], I thought ‘This is gonna be the end, everyone will be gone. We’ll have to close’,” he said.

“And I got back and about two people had left and there were about 70 people, with Martin [Mason, co-owner], helping. People had gas in their eyes and stuff. And they all stayed. We went on to have a great night. We had a stripper along that night – and the first thing he said when he got up on stage was, ‘I see you’ve had your windows done, then.’”

Other items due to go on display in the exhibition include a letter from the Queen Mother – who politely declined their invitation to a 100th birthday bash held in her honour – along with photos from their opening night starring drag legend Dave Lynn.

Mr Irvine said Central Station was proud of its record as a venue offering respite to “girls” in need of a place to really be themselves – many of them married, family men who may not have come out and only get the chance to dress up twice a month, and will only spend cash, not cards, to avoid detection.

There will also be memorabilia to celebrate the pub as the home of the first gay cricket and rugby clubs in the world, along with a raft of significant activist groups that fought for LGBT+ rights.

Another key focal point of the exhibition will be the events they hosted to raise money for AIDS charities – going on to raise tens of thousands of pounds to support men who were dying from the disease.

Mr Irvine said: “It struck us so many gay pubs in Islington have shut, like the Eddy, [which] was open for 50 years. The doors shut and you wouldn’t know it’d been there. There’s nothing… And because [we’re] sort of like a gay museum, we thought, well, we’ve got all this stuff. Let’s put it on show.”

• The exhibition will run at Central Station in Wharfdale Road, King’s Cross, from July 14-18 during pub opening hours.

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