T. & R. Annan & Sons

M227 T. & R. Annan & Sons

Address: 518, Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow G2 3LW
Date: 1903–4; 1911
Client: T. & R. Annan & Sons
Authorship: Authorship category 4 (Office) (Office)

Colour photograph of S. front of 518 Sauchiehall Street


Established in the 1850s, the photographers T. & R. Annan & Sons are listed for the first time at 518 Sauchiehall Street in the 1904–5 Glasgow Post Office Directory, having presumably moved there in 1903 or early 1904. An early 19th-century house already stood on the site, set back behind a front garden and forming part of a terrace called Albany Place. The scheme designed for Annan's by Honeyman, Keppie & Mackintosh entailed erecting a new four-storey building on the front half of the garden and converting the house into work rooms. The new building is entered directly from the street, and originally contained a ground-floor showroom with studio above. 1

Its imposing red sandstone facade is dominated by an elaborate 17th-century-style Dutch gable, and incorporates two statues by R. A. McGilvray & Ferris on projecting brackets, based on Michelangelo's frescoes of Old Testament prophets and Sibyls in the Sistine Chapel, Rome. Annan's were art dealers as well as photographers, so between the showroom and the original house a top-lit 'saloon' or gallery was provided for exhibitions.


The earliest surviving drawing is dated April 1902 and shows detailed floor plans of the pre-existing house, the proposed new front block and a small addition at the rear. It seems, therefore, that the whole scheme had been designed by this date (although the 1902 plan shows three deep niches in the facade at third-floor level, rather than the flat wall that was eventually built as a background for the two statues). The plans were not passed by the Glasgow Dean of Guild Court until 7 May 1903, and work on site began the following month. 2 The conversion of the house was the subject of further drawings, approved by the Court on 26 May 1904. 3


According to the architect W. S. Moyes, who worked in Honeyman, Keppie & Mackintosh's office at this time, Annan's building was designed by John Keppie. 4 The drawings submitted to the Glasgow Dean of Guild Court show no evidence of Mackintosh's involvement, although another drawing, a variation on the Sauchiehall Street elevation, now in The Hunterian, University of Glasgow, does appear to be in his hand. 5 It shows three statues in niches on the third floor and presumably relates to the plans drawn in April 1902.

Annan's is one of three roughly contemporary commercial buildings on Sauchiehall Street designed by the firm, the others being 137–143 for the Trustees of Dr Walker, and 309–313 for James Simpson & Sons, cabinetmakers. They all have windows framed by distinctive, sinuous architraves (at Annan's they can be seen on the first floor), harking back to a group of mid-1890s buildings for which Mackintosh was either wholly or partly responsible: the Glasgow Herald Building in Mitchell Street, the Queen Margaret College Anatomical Department and Martyrs Public School. By the time of Annan's building, however, Mackintosh was designing very differently, and it seems likely that Keppie simply reused the Scots Renaissance-derived vocabulary that he and Mackintosh had developed a decade earlier. 6

Tracings made in the 1930s by Ronald Harrison, an early student of Mackintosh's architecture, provide a record of three lost drawings for the interior of the new front building: a longitudinal section through the ground-floor saloon; a plan and elevation of a simple columned screen in front of the lift and staircase; and a sheet of designs for internal doors. 7 The tracing of the saloon shows the walls panelled with vertical boards with the joints covered by unmoulded wooden strips. This is like the original board room and director's room in the Glasgow School of Art, but there is no evidence that Mackintosh himself was responsible for the design.

The most striking feature of the interior today (2012) is the curvilinear Glasgow Style wrought ironwork between the columns in front of the lift and stairs. This is not shown on the screen drawing traced by Harrison, but it appears to be contemporary with the building. The job-book entry suggests it was supplied by A. & P. Steven as part of their contract for the lifts. It is completely different in style from the unexecuted lift enclosure designed by Mackintosh in May 1903 for 137–143 Sauchiehall Street. 8

Critical reception

A drawing of the front elevation was shown in the annual exhibition of the Glasgow Institute of the Fine Arts in 1904 (299), and was reproduced in Academy Architecture. 9 The building appeared again at the Institute in 1905 (427), when the Builders' Journal and Architectural Record described it as 'unsatisfactory', without giving its reasons. 10 A photograph of the facade was reproduced in the Builders' Journal and Architectural Engineer in November 1906, making a startling contrast with Mackintosh's facade for Miss Cranston's, Sauchiehall Street, illustrated on the same page. 11

Later history

In 1959 Annan's moved out and the building was taken over as a recruiting office by the Army, who made internal and external changes. 12 In 1992–3 it was converted to serve as a regimental museum, and some of the changes made in 1959 were modified or reversed. 13


1: Builders' Journal and Architectural Engineer, 24, 28 November 1906, p. 263.

2: Glasgow City Archives Collection: Glasgow Dean of Guild Court, Register of Inspections, D-OPW 25/64, p. 99.

3: Glasgow City Archives Collection: Glasgow Dean of Guild plans, B4/12/1/9592.

4: University of Toronto, Robarts Library: letter from W. S. Moyes to Thomas Howarth, 29 April 1947, B96-0028/017 (13).

5: The Hunterian, University of Glasgow: GLAHA 52329 (M227-012).

6: Dictionary of Scottish Architects, 1840–1980, www.scottisharchitects.org.uk [accessed 22 October 2012].

7: The Hunterian, University of Glasgow: GLAHA 52330 (M227-006); GLAHA 52336 (M227-008); GLAHA 52348 (M227-007).

8: The Hunterian, University of Glasgow: GLAHA 52331 (M226-001).

9: Academy Architecture, 25, January 1904, p. 90.

10: Builders' Journal and Architectural Record, 23, 29 March 1905, p. 161.

11: Builders' Journal and Architectural Engineer, 24, 28 November 1906, p. 263.

12: Geoffrey Jarvis, '518 Sauchiehall Street', in Charles Rennie Mackintosh Society Newsletter, 60, Winter 1992, pp. 4–5.

13: Geoffrey Jarvis, '518 Sauchiehall Street', in Charles Rennie Mackintosh Society Newsletter, 60, Winter 1992, pp. 4–5.