At Centenary Lounge we are passionate about celebrating the history of GWR, Art Deco and the 1930s.
This was a company, style and era all known for the highest quality of design, ambience, standards of service and wonderful attention to detail – perfectly reflecting our values.
Our first café opened in 2009 at Birmingham Moor Street, on the centennial anniversary of the station’s opening by the Great Western Railway (GWR), hence the name ‘Centenary Lounge’.
Housed within a Grade II listed Edwardian station exterior, the interior of the café, which was an empty shell, has been transformed into an Art Deco bistro, in the style of a 1930s railway refreshment room. When the station originally first opened it was the general waiting room and our kitchen was the Ladies waiting room.
In 2012 we expanded our offering with a refreshment stand at Birmingham’s Snow Hill Station based on a 1920’s Empire Fruit Stall. Complete with dark wood panelling and chrome accessories, Refreshments by Centenary Lounge honours our commitment to contemporary yet elegant Art Deco design.
Our latest addition, Centenary Lounge Worcester, is set to open in early 2019. Spread across two floors of a beautiful Grade II listed Georgian building, this is our largest facility to date. The ground floor continues the 1930s Art Deco theme whilst the upper floor takes inspiration from the building’s original features with a stylish Georgian-style tearoom.
About the Founder
Aasia Baig our founder began her journey in the railways in 2001, when she and her husband opened their first retail store in Solihull Station.
In 2003 Birmingham Moor St Station reopened after extensive restoration by Chiltern Railways. When Aasia visited the station looking for an empty unit where she could open a quality cafe, she fell in love with the charming quaint station. This encouraged her to learn about the history of the railways and the refreshment rooms and thus the idea of recreating a 1930s Great Western Railway inspired refreshment room was born.
Centenary Lounge in the Spotlight
We’re proud to report that our Moor Street Café won a Theo Paphitis Small Business Sunday Award, and was shortlisted for a National Railway Heritage Award. Here’s Centenary Lounge founder, Aasia Baig, accepting the award from the man himself.
We have also been awarded the Certificate of Excellence from TripAdvisor 5 years in a row.
TV & Radio
The Moor Street Café also features in the popular BBC One six-part drama series The Game, starring Tom Hughes and Brian Cox and the BBC Two Documentary series Great British Railway Journeys hosted by Michael Portillo.
In 2010 BBC Radio 5 Live’s breakfast show hosted their General Election debate at the Moor Street Café, with Conservative Chancellor George Osborne and Lord Paddy Ashdown of the Liberal Democrats.
In 2017 our Recreations crockery made an appearance on Channel 4’s Amazing Spaces.
Our café was also featured in Bob Barton’s book,
Unusual Railway Pubs, Refreshment Rooms and Ale Trains.
History of GWR
In the 1930s the ‘Big Four’ railway companies, GWR, LMS, LNER and SR, dominated Britain’s railways. Undergoing a period of vast modernisation, GWR refurbished their Edwardian and Victorian refreshment rooms to the latest Art Deco style, a look that they would forever be synonymous with.
Always at the cutting-edge of technology and style, GWR started in 1833 with Isambard Kingdom Brunel as its first Chief Engineer. GWR celebrated its centenary in 1935 by refurbishing interiors in the Art Deco style of the day.
As part of the 1930s modernisation, the Great Western Railway also commissioned new rolling stock and rebuilt stations, hotels, goods facilities and other infrastructure. As a result, the company grew to become one of the largest commercial ventures in the world.
By 1923 the network was carrying 170 million passengers and 60 million tons of goods per year. With 108,110 employees the GWR empire stretched from its London Paddington HQ as far as Penzance in Cornwall and north to Liverpool and included ocean-going ships, aeroplanes, some of the country’s finest hotels and major docks in South Wales.
The company also launched the world’s fastest scheduled train service, The Cheltenham Flyer, and created the iconic GWR roundel as part of its Deco-styled rebrand – an element we still feature in the branding for Centenary Lounge.