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Welcome to this illustrated guide to Charles Rennie Mackintosh's Willow Tea Rooms which were established by Miss Catherine Cranston in Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow, in 1903.
After being occupied for a variety of alternative commercial uses, the tea rooms were re-established by Ms Anne Mulhern in 1983. Ms Mulhern lost her tenure of the premises after the building was acquired in 2014 by Ms Celia Sinclair who set up ‘The Willow Tea Rooms Trust' to oversee a scheme of restoration. The tea rooms are currently undergoing a extensive refurbishment programme under the guidance of Trust, due to be completed in the summer of 2018.


Mackintosh style signs outside Willow Tea Rooms

Mackintosh style signs outside Willow Tea Rooms


Entrance to Willow Tea Rooms

Entrance to Willow Tea Rooms


Leaded windows at façade of Willow Tea Rooms

Leaded windows at façade of Willow Tea Rooms


Internal view of windows at Room de Luxe, Willow Tea Rooms

Internal view of windows at Salon de Luxe, Willow Tea Rooms


External view of windows at Salon de Luxe, Willow Tea Rooms

External view of windows at Salon de Luxe, Willow Tea Rooms


Furniture at at Salon de Luxe, Willow Tea Rooms

Furniture at at Salon de Luxe, Willow Tea Rooms


View from 1905 showing original chairs at Willow Tea Rooms, now replicated

View from 1905 showing original chairs at Willow Tea Rooms, now replicated


Teapots aligned on shelf of Willow Tea Rooms

Teapots aligned on shelf of Willow Tea Rooms


Mackintosh designed cutlery c.1903

Mackintosh designed cutlery c.1903


Decorated panel at Salon de Luxe, Willow Tea Rooms

Decorated panel at Salon de Luxe, Willow Tea Rooms


Matching coat stands flanking decorated panel at Salon de Luxe, Willow Tea Rooms, 1905

Matching coat stands flanking decorated panel at Salon de Luxe, Willow Tea Rooms, 1905


Mackintosh's design drawings for chairs at the Salon de Luxe, Willow Tea Rooms Mackintosh's design drawings for chairs at the Salon de Luxe, Willow Tea Rooms

Mackintosh's design drawings and completed chairs for the Salon de Luxe, Willow Tea Rooms

Mackintosh's chairs designed for the Room De luxe, Willow Tea Rooms, 1905


Mackintosh style light fittings at Willow Tea Rooms

Mackintosh style light fittings at Willow Tea Rooms


Corner view of Salon de Luxe, Willow Tea Rooms

Corner view of Salon de Luxe, Willow Tea Rooms


Door leading into Salon de Luxe, Willow Tea Rooms, 1905

Door leading into Salon de Luxe, Willow Tea Rooms, 1905


Detail of door leading into Room de Luxe, Willow Tea Rooms

Detail of door leading into Salon de Luxe, Willow Tea Rooms


Night view of block in Sauchiehall Street at Willow Tea Rooms

Night view of block in Sauchiehall Street at Willow Tea Rooms, 2010


Street scene showing Willow Tea Rooms in Sauchiehall Street, 1911

Street scene showing Willow Tea Rooms and surrounding stores in Sauchiehall Street, 1911

 

  The Post Office Directory for 1911 / 1912 gives details of the commercial premises in the above illustration, situated in Sauchiehall Street in the block between West Campbell Street and Mains Street, which is currently known as Blythswood Street. From 1900 to 1906, during the period of the design and construction of Miss Cranston's tea and lunch rooms, Charles and Margaret Mackintosh occupied a city centre flat in Mains Street, round the corner from the Sauchiehall Street site.

  The retail unit at 211 Sauchiehall Street, occupied by Ramsay and Ramsay in 1911 and by Celtic F.C. in 2010, will become part of a proposed Visitor Centre due to open in June 2018. The expansion will also provide exhibition space as well as conference facilities and a retail outlet.


Entrance to the Mackintosh home at 120 Mains Street (now Blythswood Street)

Entrance to the Mackintosh home at 120 Mains Street (now Blythswood Street)


Elevation of Willow Tea Rooms and proposed Visitor Centre after planned  renovations of 2018

Elevation of Willow Tea Rooms and proposed Visitor Centre after planned renovations of 2018


Façade of Willow Tea Rooms from the journal 'Dekorative Kunst', 1905

Façade of Willow Tea Rooms from the journal 'Dekorative Kunst', 1905


The modernistic façade of Willow Tea Rooms was created in front of an existing four-storey conventional building in Sauchiehall Street. The timber formwork to create the unusual geometric shape of the lower levels can be glimpsed behind the scaffolding in the 1903 photograph below.

Timber scaffolding and formwork for the façade of Willow Tea Rooms

Timber scaffolding and formwork for the façade of Willow Tea Rooms, 1903

The signs on the barrier at the works are written in typical Mackintosh script and read "Miss Cranston's New Tea and Lunch Rooms will be opened early in October".


An accurate reconstruction of the 1903 screen was placed around new scaffolding in 2017 during the remodelling of the Willow Tea Rooms.

Scaffolding and screen covering the the façade of Willow Tea Rooms, 2017

Scaffolding and screen covering the the façade of Willow Tea Rooms, 2017


Screen erected during construction of façade of Willow Tea Rooms, 1903

1903 and 2017 versions of the screen at Willow Tea Rooms

Screen erected during reconstruction of Willow Tea Rooms, 2017

The 2017 version of the screen was adorned with signs echoing the original Mackintosh script from 1903 with the message - "Miss Cranston's New Tea and Lunch Rooms will be opened in Summer 2018".

Sign at Willow Tea Rooms 'Opening in  Summer 2018' Copy of 1903 face at Willow Tea Rooms, 2017

Modern versions of 1903 signs at screen surrounding reconstruction of Willow Tea Rooms, 2017


Reappearance of upper levels of Willow Tea Rooms after removal of scaffolding, April 2018

Reappearance of upper levels of Willow Tea Rooms after removal of scaffolding, April 2018


Genuine rose bushes at entrance to Willow Tea Rooms, 1905

Genuine rose bushes at entrance to Willow Tea Rooms, 1905


The Willow Tea Rooms closed for business after Kate Cranston was widowed in 1917. It was known as the 'Kensington Restaurant' when the photograph below was taken in the 1920's. The signs either side of the famous façade read "Teas and Luncheons" and "Smith, Glasgow".

Willow Tea Rooms, known as 'Kensington Restaurant' in 1920's

Willow Tea Rooms, known as 'Kensington Restaurant' in 1920's

The building was used for a variety of purposes before the reincarnation of the Willow Tea Rooms in 1983, thanks to the efforts of Anne Mulhern - a latter day successor to Miss Cranston.

Ms Mulhern's interest in the tea rooms at this location came to an end in 2016 when she relocated her Willow Tea Rooms further down the street to the Watt Brothers store at the corner with Hope Street. The Mackintosh designed premises had been acquired in 2014 by Celia Sinclair, who founded ‘The Willow Tea Rooms Trust', who are carrying out the current restoration scheme.
In the intervening period the Henderson's the Jewellers retail unit on the ground floor was used as a gift shop while Ms Mulhern continued to operate the tea rooms on the upper levels.


Tea gallery at Willow Tea Rooms, 1905

Tea gallery at Willow Tea Rooms, 1905


In the rearrangements of 2014, the ground floor shopping unit previously occupied by Hendersons became a gift shop, ancillary to the tea rooms on the upper levels. The tea gallery overlooked the renovated space which contained some very interesting Mackintosh artefacts.

View of timber balcony of tea gallery at Willow Tea Rooms

View of timber balcony of the tea gallery at Willow Tea Rooms


 Peek through original railings of the gallery overlooking ground floor salon of Willow Tea Rooms, 1905

Peek through original railings of the gallery overlooking ground floor salon of Willow Tea Rooms, 1905


Ground floor entrance to gift shop at Willow Tea Rooms </U>

Ground floor entrance to gift shop at Willow Tea Rooms


Original cashier's chair on display at gift shop of the Willow Tea Rooms </U>

Original cashier's chair on display at gift shop of the Willow Tea Rooms


Fireplace in gift shop at Willow Tea Rooms

Fireplace in gift shop at Willow Tea Rooms

Detail of fireplace in gift shop at Willow Tea Rooms showing Mackintosh's preferred square motifs

Detail of fireplace in gift shop at Willow Tea Rooms showing Mackintosh's preferred square motifs


Reproductions of Mackintosh designed chairs on display in gift shop at Willow Tea Rooms

Reproductions of Mackintosh designed chairs on display in gift shop at Willow Tea Rooms


Ornate plasterwork at gift shop of the Willow Tea Rooms

Ornate plasterwork at gift shop of the Willow Tea Rooms


Original fireplace with plasterwork on ground floor of the Willow Tea Rooms, 1905

Original fireplace with plasterwork shown above at the Willow Tea Rooms, 1905


Mural of Anne Mulhern's Willow Tea Rooms (1983-2016) on display at the transposed version at Watt Brothers Store, 2018

Mural of Anne Mulhern's Willow Tea Rooms (1983-2016) on display at the transposed version at Watt Brothers Store, 2018


Interior of Willow Tea Rooms at Watt Brothers Store, 2018

Interior of Willow Tea Rooms at Watt Brothers Store, 2018


Original ladder backed chairs at ground floor salon of Willow Tea Rooms

Original ladder backed chairs at ground floor salon of Willow Tea Rooms


Hanging flower basket at ground floor salon of Willow Tea Rooms, 1905

Hanging flower basket at ground floor salon of Willow Tea Rooms, 1905


Billiards room at second floor of Willow Tea Rooms, 1905

Billiards room at second floor of Willow Tea Rooms, 1905


Tables at top level of Willow Tea Rooms with camp ceiling over fireplace, 1905

Tables at top level of Willow Tea Rooms with camp ceiling over fireplace, 1905


List of suppliers for Miss Cranston's Tea Rooms by Margaret Macdonald

List of suppliers for Miss Cranston's Tea Rooms by Margaret Macdonald


Mackintosh and his wife, Margaret Macdonald, created the unique interior decoration schemes of various Miss Cranson's tea rooms in Glasgow city centre.
Margaret's gesso panels of 'The May Queen' and 'The Wassail' were displayed at the annual exhibition of the Royal Glasgow Institute of the Fine Arts in 1901.

'The Wassail'and 'The May Queen'

'The May Queen and 'The Wassail' at the RGIFA exhibition in 1901


'The Wassail' originally featured at Ingram Street tearooms

'The Wassail' once a feature of Ingram Street Tea Rooms, now at Kelvingrove Museum


'The May Queen' was displayed at at Miss Cranston's Ingram Street Tea Rooms

'The May Queen' also featured at Miss Cranston's Ingram Street Tea Rooms


Mackintosh exhibited an exaggerated emphasis of the vertical dimension in both his wall panels and high backed chairs.
The drawing below was created by him in 1896 for a proposed frieze for Miss Cranston's Tea Rooms in Buchanan Street. It creates an interesting comparison with Margaret's ladies and roses shown above.

Mackintosh's drawing of frieze for Miss Cranston's Tea Rooms, Buchanan Street, 1896

Mackintosh's drawing of proposed frieze for Miss Cranston's Tea Rooms, Buchanan Street, 1896


'The May Queen' displayed at the Vienna Secession Exhibition, 1900

'The May Queen' displayed at the Vienna Secession Exhibition, 1900


Chair from the photograph of Vienna Secession Exhibition on display at the Lighthouse

Chair from the photograph of Vienna Secession Exhibition on display at the Lighthouse


Mackintosh's design drawings of  chairs for Willow Tea Rooms

Mackintosh's design drawings of chairs for Willow Tea Rooms


>Mackintosh designed chair for Willow Tea Rooms, displayed at Turin 1902

Mackintosh designed chair for Willow Tea Rooms, displayed at Turin 1902


Mackintosh's design drawings of cashier's desks for Ingram Street Tea Rooms, 1909

Mackintosh's design drawings of cashier's desks for Ingram Street Tea Rooms, 1909


Mackintosh's design drawings of chairs for Ingram Street Tea Rooms

Mackintosh's design drawings of chairs for Ingram Street Tea Rooms


'The Dew'- metal panel by Margaret Macdonald Mackintosh for Ingram Street Tea Rooms

'The Dew'- metal panel by Margaret Macdonald Mackintosh for Ingram Street Tea Rooms


A surprisingly functional use of Mackintosh metalwork could be seen in the beaten lead fireplace which was erected flush to the wall without any mantlepiece or decorative surrounds which were typical of fireplaces in his domestic works.

Beaten lead fireplace designed by by Charles Rennie Mackintosh

Beaten lead fireplace designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh


Coat stand with umbrella rack and inset shoe stand at Miss Cranston's tea rooms

Coat stand with umbrella rack and inset shoe stand at Miss Cranston's tea rooms


'White timber screen for dining room at Ingram Street Tea Rooms displayed at Kelvingrove Art Gallery

White timber screen for Ladies Dining Room at Ingram Street Tea Rooms displayed at Kelvingrove Art Gallery


Full height wall decoration at Miss Cranston's Tearooms, Buchanan Street, 1898

Mackintosh's full height wall decoration at Miss Cranston's Tea Rooms, Buchanan Street, 1898


Poster for  Miss Cranston's Tea Rooms, Buchanan Street, by Charles Rennie Mackintosh

Poster for Miss Cranston's Tea Rooms, Buchanan Street, by Charles Rennie Mackintosh


Menu cover for  Miss Cranston's Tea Rooms, Buchanan Street, by Jessie Marion King

Menu cover for Miss Cranston's Tea Rooms, Buchanan Street, by Jessie Marion King


'Peacock' wall decoration for Miss Cranston's Tearooms

'Peacock' wall decoration for Miss Cranston's Tearooms


Perspective drawing of Miss Cranston's Tearooms, Buchanan Street by architect George Washington Browne, 1896

Perspective drawing of Miss Cranston's Tearooms, Buchanan Street, exhibited by architect George Washington Browne, 1896



  Rennie Mackintosh - Architect

  Lighthouse

  Scotland Street School

  House for an Art Lover

  Martyrs School

  Hill House, Helensburgh

  Obituary to CRM -1928

Small portrait of Charles Rennie Mackintosh by Gerald Blaikie

  Rennie Mackintosh - Designer

  Queen's Cross Church

  Glasgow School of Art

  Willow Tea Rooms

  Daily Record Building

  Ruchill Church Hall

  Gaudi and Mackintosh

  archidrawings.org
Architectural Drawings of Gerald Blaikie -

All original artwork, photography and text © Gerald Blaikie 2018
Unauthorised reproduction of any image on this website is not permitted.

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