Charles Rennie Mackintosh's Willow Tea Rooms were established by Miss Catherine Cranston in Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow, in 1903 and remained in operation until she was widowed in 1917. The premises were known as the 'Kensington Restaurant' from 1919 until 1927 when they were incorporated into Daly's Department Store as sales space.
The tea rooms were re-established by Ms Anne Mulhern in 1983 at a time when the ground floor shop was occupied by the jewellers, M.M. Henderson Ltd. The Salon de Luxe on the upper level was restored to Mackintosh's original design and opened to the public on 1st December 1983.
The 40 chairs and 10 tables at the Salon de Luxe were made by Keith Gentles, a cabinet maker from Bridge of Allan. They were completed over a three month period prior to the opening of the tea rooms at the end of 1983.

Ms Mulhern lost her tenure of the property 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 which was completed in late 2018. The new establishment is now known as 'Mackintosh at the Willow' as the previous proprietor has successfully retained the trademark name for her relocated 'Willow Tea Rooms' currently contained within Watt Brothers Store in Sauchiehall Street.


Drawing of upper levels of Willow Tea Rooms by Gerald Blaikie

Drawing of upper levels of Willow Tea Rooms by Gerald Blaikie


Mackintosh style signs outside Willow Tea Rooms, April 2008

Mackintosh style signs outside Willow Tea Rooms & ground floor retail unit, April 2008


Entrance to Willow Tea Rooms, April 2008

Entrance to Willow Tea Rooms


Leaded windows at façade of Willow Tea Rooms, April 2008

Leaded windows at façade of Willow Tea Rooms


Internal view of windows at Salon de Luxe, Willow Tea Rooms, April 2008

Internal view of windows at Salon de Luxe, Willow Tea Rooms, April 2008


External view of windows at Salon de Luxe, Willow Tea Rooms, April 2008

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


Replica chairs by Keith Gentles at Salon de Luxe, Willow Tea Rooms, April 2008

Replica chairs by Keith Gentles 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, April 2008

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, April 2008

Decorated panel at Salon de Luxe, Willow Tea Rooms


The original of the panel at the Salon de Luxe can now be seen at the Kelvingrove Art Gallery. 'Oh Ye, All Ye that Walk in Willow Wood' was created in 1903 by Margaret Macdonald using painted gesso with twine and coloured glass beads.

Original gesso panel flanked by matching coat stands at Salon de Luxe, Willow Tea Rooms, 1905

Original gesso panel flanked by matching coat stands at Salon de Luxe, Willow Tea Rooms, 1905


'Oh Ye, All Ye that Walk in Willow Wood' by Margaret Macdonald

'Oh Ye, All Ye that Walk in Willow Wood' by Margaret Macdonald


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 Salon de Luxe, Willow Tea Rooms, 1905


Mackintosh style light fittings at Willow Tea Rooms, April 2008

Mackintosh style light fittings at Willow Tea Rooms


Corner view of Salon de Luxe, Willow Tea Rooms, April 2008

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


Doors from Salon de Luxe exhibited at Visitor Centre at Willow Tea Rooms, 2018

Doors from Salon de Luxe exhibited at Visitor Centre, Willow Tea Rooms, 2018


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

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


Pettigrew and Stephens' department store was situated in Sauchiehall Street at the corner with West Campbell Street, close to the Willow Tea Rooms. The store occupied a multi-storey red sandstone block with a prominent dome. The design of the building was credited to the partnership of Honeyman, Keppie and Mackintosh with John Keppie designing the building and Charles Rennie Mackintosh being responsible for the dome, which was originally intended for another unexecuted project.

Exhibition drawing of Pettigrew & Stephens' store, Sauchiehall Street, 1899

Exhibition drawing of Pettigrew & Stephens' store, Sauchiehall Street, 1899


Elevation of central portion of Pettigrew & Stephens store, Sauchiehall Street, 1903

Elevation of central portion of Pettigrew & Stephens store, Sauchiehall Street, 1903


Charles Rennie Mackintosh designed a stall displaying ladies underwear for Pettigrew and Stephens at the Glasgow International Exhibition of 1901 at Kelvingrove Park. He had missed out on the design commissions for the pavilions for the exhibition which were awarded to James Miller.

Stall for Pettigrew & Stephens, designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh

Stall for Pettigrew & Stephens, designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh


Street scene showing Willow Tea Rooms in Sauchiehall Street, 1911

Street scene showing Willow Tea Rooms, Pettigrew & Stephens, and surrounding stores, 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, is now part of a Visitor Centre developed as an adjunct to the tea rooms. The expansion provides 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)


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, February 2017

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

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


Contrast of Willow Tea Rooms against surrounding dark buildings, 1906

Contrast of Willow Tea Rooms against surrounding dark buildings, 1906


Street scene at Willow Tea Rooms, c.1908

Street scene showing Willow Tea Rooms and Pettigrew and Stephens' store, c.1908

 

Pettigrew and Stephens' store with its landmark dome was demolished in 1973 along with the adjacent Copland & Lye store to make way for the horrendous Sauchiehall Centre which was constructed on the site in 1974.


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


Same stretch of Sauchiehall Street at Willow Tea Rooms, December 2018

Same stretch of Sauchiehall Street at Willow Tea Rooms, December 2018


In the 1960's the façade of the Willow Tea Rooms was hidden behind the conventional plate glass display windows of Daly's Department Store.

Former Willow Tea Rooms incorporated within Daly's Department Store, 1960's

Former Willow Tea Rooms incorporated within Daly's Department Store, 1960's

Former Willow Tea Rooms incorporated within Daly's Department Store, 1960's


The Mackintosh designed internal fittings and Margaret Macdonald's gesso panel were left in situ when the floorspace was used as part of the bridal department of Daly's Department Store in the 1960's, allowing the reinstatement of the tearooms to proceed in 1983.

Interior of of Willow Tea Rooms when occupied by Daly's Department Store, 1960's

Interior of of Willow Tea Rooms when occupied by Daly's Department Store, 1960's


Decorative flower bowl at ground floor salon of Willow Tea Rooms, 1905

Decorative flower bowl at ground floor salon of Willow Tea Rooms, 1905


Reproduction of decorative flower bowl at ground floor salon of Willow Tea Rooms, December 2018

Reproduction of decorative flower bowl at ground floor salon of Willow Tea Rooms, December 2018


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


Tea gallery at Willow Tea Rooms, 1905

Tea gallery at Willow Tea Rooms, 1905


Tea gallery at Willow Tea Rooms, December 2018

Tea gallery at Willow Tea Rooms, December 2018


 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 retail unit at Willow Tea Rooms, January 2016  </U>

Ground floor entrance to retail unit at Willow Tea Rooms, January 2016


Former display window of retail unit after restoration of 2018 </U>

Former display window of retail unit after restoration of 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


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

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


Reproduction of fireplace with original plasterwork on ground floor of the Willow Tea Rooms, 2018

Reproduction of fireplace with original plasterwork on ground floor of the Willow Tea Rooms, 2018


Elevation of proposed 'Mackintosh at the Willow' and Visitor Centre posted on hoarding during renovations

Elevation of proposed 'Mackintosh at the Willow' and Visitor Centre posted on hoarding during renovations


Façades of 'Mackintosh at the Willow', formerly Willow Tea Rooms, June 2018

Façades of 'Mackintosh at the Willow', June 2018


Signage for 'Mackintosh at the Willow', replacing 'Willow Tea Rooms', June 2018

Signage for 'Mackintosh at the Willow', replacing 'Willow Tea Rooms', June 2018


Frontage of 'Mackintosh at the Willow', December 2018

Frontage of 'Mackintosh at the Willow', December 2018


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 furniture for Willow Tea Rooms

Mackintosh designed furniture for Willow Tea Rooms


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


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

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


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 -

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