Back to the days of a touch of class

HIGH TABLE...the first class lounge at Newcastle railway station early last century.
HIGH TABLE...the first class lounge at Newcastle railway station early last century.

IT was sad when it was announced a short while back that restaurant cars were being dropped from the East Coast rail service.

They were a last vestige of a more stylish age of rail travel.

As is this picture.

This was the first class lounge at Newcastle’s splendid John Dobson-designed railway station early last century.

Today, it’s better known as the Centurion bar, having undergone magnificent restoration of its Victorian interior within the last decade or so.

The picture is from a small history of the premises which has been produced by Northern Voices Community Projects, featuring poetry by Tyneside poet Keith Armstrong and design by former Shields Gazette artist, Peter Dixon.

It’s nice because the Centurion’s story is one of how important and beautiful buildings are still sometimes rescued from indifference. In the 1960s, for instance, part of the old refreshment room was actually used as cells by the British Transport Police.  

Sledgehammers were taken to some of its walls.

Keith Armstrong’s poetry also makes for lovely companion pieces:

“It had been a long wait, through difficult seasons, months of dull days lit only by cackling Geordie girls and the odd artistic lady with eyes like paintings ... You are companionship in a sunny glass ...”