Recently digitised at the State Library of Queensland is this colourful lantern slide advertising the Central Station Café. The item, slightly damaged, was identified in a small collection among the library’s thousands of glass plates and lantern slides. With its bright colours, spectacular fonts and 1920s charm, it was crying out for the broader circulation digitisation can provide.
The Central Station Café opened in mid 1922 aiming to provide railway travelers and the general public with an affordable place to dine. Boasting hot joints, soup and grills as well as all brands of tobacco, cigars and cigarettes, the cafe made a point of using ‘Queensland’s own products’.
In a 1922 promotional article printed in the major Brisbane papers of the day, the cafe stated its intention as being to provide the ‘person about town’ with ‘a satisfying meal at a satisfying price, in a satisfying place, at a satisfying time’. Later the cafe specifically aimed at Brisbane’s working class. In 1925 it was advertising solely in the ‘The Worker’ newspaper and promotions often included an appeal to workers as can be seen on the lantern slide: ‘Support your own Central Station Cafe’ and in its regular ad in The Worker: ‘Workers, patronise your own cafe’.
Often a meeting place for various worker’s groups, the cafe was even a regular participant in Labor Day celebrations. On 7 May 1925, The Worker commented on the cafe’s popular May Day parade exhibit that year, on which ‘an inviting looking table was shown, with a couple of waitresses standing by “ready and willing” to cater to the wants of customers’.
The cafe operated at Central Station until the 1940s.
R. Hillier – Librarian, State Library of Queensland