Willow Tea Rooms

M221 Willow Tea Rooms

Address: 217, Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow G2 3EX
Date: 1903; 1906; 1916–17
Client: Henderson's Trustees per Andrew MacKinnon; Miss Cranston
Authorship: Authorship category 1 (Mackintosh) (Mackintosh)

Background

211–217 Sauchiehall Street occupy the middle of a large block between Mains Street – now Blythswood Street – and West Campbell Street, which was built c. 1865 and was originally known as Kensington Place. The whole block was the property of the Trustees of the late John Henderson, who are named as clients in the job-book entry. However, like other work carried out by Honeyman, Keppie & Mackintosh in this block, it was the lessee who commissioned the architects and paid for the work; in this case Miss Catherine (Kate) Cranston. 1

Miss Cranston's Lunch and Tea Rooms in Sauchiehall Street, the Willow Tea Rooms as they became known, was the fourth of her renowned refreshment establishments with which Mackintosh was involved. Here Mackintosh was responsible for the exterior for the first time, as well as for the interior arrangement and decoration. The name of the tea rooms is reflected in the decorative leitmotif chosen by Mackintosh, which was derived from the meaning of 'Sauchiehall' or 'Sauchiehaugh': alley of willows. 2

As had George Walton at Miss Cranston's in Buchanan Street in 1896, Mackintosh designed a hoarding, with characteristic dark stencilling and lettering on a white background, to protect passers-by and hide the building site during construction. Mackintosh wrote to Hermann Muthesius in April or May 1903 that he had been 'out each morning at 6 o'clock decorating the barricade'. 3

The Willow Tea Rooms were extensively reconstructed in 1979–80 and so much of what is seen today (2014), including the ground floor of the famous N. elevation to Sauchiehall Street, dates from that time (see 'Later Alterations' below).

B/W photograph of barricade around the building site at 217 Sauchiehall Street, 'Dekorative Kunst', 12, April 1905, p. 257

Exterior

Sauchiehall Street

Before alteration in 1903, 215–217 Sauchiehall Street had a painted ashlar stone facade and plate-glass shop front on the ground floor. To the left of the shop door was a further door giving access to common internal stairs at the rear of the building. These served the tenements above the shop and its neighbour to the E. at 211. As the set of drawings submitted to the Glasgow Dean of Guild Court in March 1903 – probably drawn and definitely annotated by Mackintosh – illustrate, Mackintosh's remodelling of the appearance and proportions of the facade would stand in striking contrast to the adjacent buildings on Sauchiehall Street. Miss Cranston's premises were to take in the entirety of 215–217, so the interiors were widened by absorbing the tenement stair corridor to give a new broader frontage. Two new sets of stairs would provide access to the upper floors of 211 from a door at the rear of the building on Sauchiehall Lane, the first to the first floor and the second via a passage from the first floor up to the second and third floors.

Mackintosh's façade had two distinct halves: a slender, unmoulded, projecting stringcourse above the first-floor window divided it into two sections. Below, an entirely new design was created; above, the existing structure was altered.

B/W photograph of N. elevation, 'Dekorative Kunst', 12, April 1905, p. 258

The wide horizontal bands of glazing at ground- and first-floor levels were realised by means of a goalpost-like arrangement of two rolled-steel stanchions at the edges of the facade supporting a concrete-filled rolled-steel girder above the first-floor window to carry the facade of the floors above. The ground floor was set back from the public pavement and had metal-framed small-paned leaded glazing with entrance door adjacent. A second band of similar glazing projected over the door and window. Two large circular wrought-iron ornaments decorated the upper glazing.

The first-floor façade projected beyond the original building line. This was achieved by extending the length of the existing first-floor girders. The façade was curved to correspond to the curve of the wide bow window which sat flush with the wall. 4 As on the ground floor the window was metal-framed, with leaded glass. To either side were two wrought-iron shop signs with motifs said to represent the willow and the swallow. 5

On the second and third floors, the left (E.) side of the facade has a shallow bow. This was done perhaps, as Howarth suggested, to articulate the dog-leg stair inside the building; at buildings of this period, such as Windyhill, The Hill House and Scotland Street School, Mackintosh consistently located stairs inside rounded tower-like features with landings in the curved portion. 6

The original disposition of the windows on these upper floors was preserved to some extent by Mackintosh. On both levels the cills aligned with those of 211 and on the second floor the height of the windows was also consistent with its neighbour's. On the third floor, however, the lintels were lowered; on the left side in particular the originally slender bipartite window was made almost square. This change in the proportions of the upper-floor windows seems to have been carried out to harmonise with the horizontal emphasis of the glazing on the ground and first floors, and to lend the elevation the appearance of stability. Mackintosh had long been aware of this issue in relation to glazing . In an untitled paper on architecture of c. 1892 he noted that 'the eye is distressed at huge lofty tenements resting to all appearance on nothing more stable than plate glass for the real actual supports are easily overlooked'. 7 In 1902, shortly before Mackintosh began work on the Willow, Beresford Pite, professor of architecture at the Royal College of Art in London reflected in Building Industries that while plate-glass shopfronts with slender mullions which seemed to support solid stone facades above were by that time widespread and known to be stable, the visual effect created by them and emphasised by upper windows not on the scale of or in proportion to the lower floors was still unsettling. 8

As on the floors below, both second- and third-floor windows were metal-framed with small-paned leaded glass, but the form on each floor differed. The second-floor windows were treated in two sections: the upper sections had deep reveals while the lower, set flush with the wall, comprised either four or two outward-opening segments which formed a bow. Each third-floor window was a conventional-looking sash. Those on the right (W.) were almost flush with the wall while that on the left had deep reveals.

Thr crowning cornice was aligned with that at 211 but was completely unmoulded, deeper and heavier in appearance. An annotation on the March 1903 drawings describes its construction of wood and cement over the existing classical moulded cornice. Drawings and contemporary photographs show a concave moulding, or perhaps a narrow gutter, at the top edge of the cornice.

The façade was finished in a perfectly smooth white or light-coloured stucco without moulding. On the outer edges of the ground and first floors were black and purple square tiles in two parallel columns; single columns of larger tiles defined the edges of the second and third floors; single rows decorated the underside of the cornice and the lintel reveals of the second floor windows. 9 The use of mosaic tiles to articulate the edges and details of a facade echoes contemporary work of Mackintosh's acquantances in Vienna, such as Josef Hoffmann's houses at Hohe Warte (1901 onwards) and the Hoffmann and Wiener Werkstätte's Purkersdorf Sanatorium (opened in 1904). 10

Colour photograph of detail of drawing of N. elevation as a present and N. elevation as proposedSepia photograph of view of Sauchiehall Street looking E.Colour photograph of N. elevation to Sauchiehall Street

Sauchiehall Lane

The addition with hipped roof at the rear (S.) of the tenement buildings is thought to have been constructed during the 1890s. 11 Here, Mackintosh inserted a door and four wooden-framed windows with cast-iron lintels. The two windows of the Gallery were bowed with casements of leaded glazing, echoing the first-floor window to the N. The hipped roof was partly glazed. The roughcast chimney serving the rear rooms was tall and slightly battered, and a little different from the shorter, straight-sided chimney in the March 1903 drawings. The roughcast finish, form of the chimney and leaded-glass bow windows closely relate to work of this period by Mackintosh at Windyhill and The Hill House. This façade was very much in the rural Arts & Crafts idiom, and a rather unusual choice for a city-centre back-street location. The upper-floor walls at the rear of the building, of stugged and snecked cream sandstone rubble, were untouched by Mackintosh's scheme.

B/W photograph of S. elevationColour photograph of S. elevation to Sauchiehall Lane

Interior

The celebrated ornamental interiors were created in 1903. Construction work for service spaces also extended into the basement of 211. Some internal alterations were carried out in 1906 and in 1917, when a further tea room, the Dug Out, was constructed in the basement to the W., at 219. Most of the interiors were reconstructed in 1979–80 using replica pieces: the Gallery balustrade, and the leaded glass doors and mirrored glass wall panels in the first-floor tea room are the only remaining original features.

Computer assisted drawing of axonometric showing building phases

1903

On the ground floor Mackintosh created three spaces which were discrete but entirely open to one another, demarcation being achieved by structural elements, colour and decoration. The bright 'Front Room', as it was labelled on the March 1903 Dean of Guild drawings, retained the existing tall ceiling height, was lit naturally by the large bands of glazing to Sauchiehall Street and was decorated with a white and light-coloured scheme incorporating the ever-present willow motif. It included the small vestibule with domed glass ceiling and the entrance 'corridor' separated from the main tea room by a tall wooden screen with coloured glass inserts, as at the Ingram Street Tea Rooms. A new fireplace was created in the W. wall of the room. 12

B/W photograph of Front Room, looking S., 'Dekorative Kunst', 12, April 1905, p. 260B/W photograph of Front Room, looking N., 'Dekorative Kunst', 12, April 1905, p. 261B/W photograph of view from stairs to Front Room, 'Dekorative Kunst', 12, April 1905, p. 266

In the extension at the rear, Mackintosh introduced a new intermediate floor level creating the 'Back Room' or 'Saloon' at ground level and the 'Gallery' above. The Back Room was decorated in dark tones and was linked to the Front Room by an enlarged opening. The Gallery ran around four sides and had a large light-well in the centre, supplying natural light to the ground floor from the partly glazed roof. It was constructed on six rolled-steel beams, two of which, timber-clad, ran through the void of the light-well, echoing the picture-rails that Mackintosh ran across windows at his home in Mains Street a few years previously. 13 This structure provided the Back Room with floor space uninterrupted by supporting columns. Timber joists appeared to project slightly into the light-well from between the Gallery balusters and could be seen supporting the floor from below. A wooden balustrade, which hung below the joists as at Queen's Cross Church and the Glasgow School of Art, comprised simple verticals grouped in threes, some carved with a form perhaps derived from a willow leaf.

B/W photograph of Back Room, 'Dekorative Kunst', 12, April 1905, p. 265B/W photograph of Gallery, 'Dekorative Kunst', 12, April 1905, p. 267

Arranged around and adjacent to the balustrade were columns – round tapering to square – supporting a lattice through which the ceiling of the glazed pitched roof could be seen. 14 The lattice appears as a sort of precursor to the Chinese or Blue Room at Miss Cranston's Ingram Street premises. Fireplaces were fitted in the S. wall of the Back Room and Gallery providing focal points. The Gallery floor was around 90 cm lower than the ceiling of the Front Room and here Mackintosh inserted a decorative wrought-iron balustrade, dividing the spaces but maintaining the open view. The main stairs, wood on top of the original stone, were enclosed in a similar, permeable way by a wrought-iron balustrade decorated with glass baubles.

On the first floor behind the wide, bow window was what the the Dean of Guild drawings in 1903 called the Ladies' Room, better known as the exclusive Salon or Room de Luxe with high-backed, silver-painted chairs upholstered in purple velvet, highly decorative leaded glass doors, crystal chandelier and Margaret Macdonald Mackintosh's gesso panel with a design derived from a Rossetti sonnet, 'O ye, all ye that walk in Willowwood' (Coll. Glasgow Museums). 15 The decorative scheme and materials used here were the luxurious highlight of the Willow, if not of all of Miss Cranston's tea rooms. Besides the addition of the sweeping bow of the window, Mackintosh's only other structural intervention was the insertion of a barrel-vaulted ceiling, a feature he would use again in the Cloister Room of 1911 at the Ingram Street Tea Rooms. 16 The Ladies' Room was provided with its own servery and lavatories across the corridor.

B/W photograph of Ladies' Room, 'Dekorative Kunst', 12, April 1905, p. 269

On the second floor the 1860s walls were rearranged to form a large Billiards Room at the front of the building, for which Mackintosh designed a billiard table and inserted timber panelling and banquettes around the walls, and a smoking room and lavatories at the rear of the building.

B/W photograph of Billiard and smoking room, 'Dekorative Kunst', 12, April 1905, p. 274

On the third floor, the original arrangement of rooms was maintained. These spaces were used for storage. On the second and third floors doors originally giving access from the main shared staircase to the adjacent building, 211, were blocked up.

In the large room at the rear of the second floor of 211, accessed by the new exterior stair are several features which further suggest Mackintosh's involvement: panelling, a fireplace similar to that of the Billiard Room and a leaded-glass screen. 17 However, they are not shown on the drawings submitted to the Dean of Guild Court in March 1903.

The basement of 217 housed the kitchen, stores and staff lavatories and extended slightly N. and S. out beyond its original footprint. Bladen & Co.'s girders and supporting cast-iron columns were introduced to support the new arrangement of floors above. New interior walls were constructed for staff lavatories, and storage space was extended into the basement of 211. Ventilation ducts on the E. and W. walls of the basement extended upwards to roof level.

1906

Three years after opening, the lavatory and W.C. facilities in the basement were enlarged and an electric extractor was installed on the roof. The new lavatories extended further into the basement of 211 and the building work including slapping through existing walls.

1916–17

In December 1916, a set of drawings by architect James Carruthers for a further extension were submitted to the Dean of Guild Court. 18 A new tea room, rest rooms and a vestibule were to be created in the basement of the building to the W. of the tea rooms, 219 Sauchiehall Street, part of the warehouse premises of Brown & Beveridge, cabinetmakers and upholsterers. The rooms would be accessed via a new stair from the Front Room in the existing tea rooms. Three interior elevations of these distinctive new rooms were drawn by Mackintosh, who by this time had settled in London. One drawing is dated February 1917. 19 It is not known how James Carruthers came to be involved in this project, but he appears to have acted as Mackintosh's Glasgow agent. The tea room became known as the Dug Out and commemorated the ongoing First World War through its memorial fireplace which incorporated flags of participating nations. Unfortunately, the Dug Out does not seem to have been photographed, and beyond the drawings very little is known about its design. 20 According to Carruthers's drawings, the large basement room at the rear of 219 became the tea room, with the new fireplace inserted in the W. wall. A service area on the E. wall was connected to the next-door kitchen.

Carruthers's drawings also show the room on the N. side of the basement converted to a rest room with a curved bow window to the centre with a circular fountain within it and glazed canted bays to either side. These must have looked out into the basement area, lit by pavement lights above: there was no open area in front of the buildings in Sauchiehall Street at this date. Mackintosh's interior elevation of this wall shows cobalt blue square trellis structures, very like the Chinese or Blue Room at Ingram Street, articulating the bow and canted bays, and largely black furniture.

In the centre, between the tea room and the rest room a reception vestibule was created, reached by a new stair from the front room of 217. The wall towards the tea room was removed and a structural capital inserted to create a more open space. Existing recesses, cupboards and a W.C. were reconfigured and extended W. into an adjacent basement to provide male and female lavatories. A new door in the E. wall linked this basement with the kitchen in 217. Mackintosh's elevation of the W. wall continues the colour scheme of cobalt blue and black. Additionally in the drawings, the lavatory doors are picked out in grey with grids of differing sizes seemingly pierced in them. The walls either side of the right-hand door, are decorated with a column of green triangles reminiscent of similar motifs and colours at the contemporary Mackintosh project for Mr and Mrs Bassett-Lowke at 78 Derngate, Northampton. A striking contrasting yellow bench with lattice back and arms, upholstered in purple, like earlier silver chairs in the Willow, is shown on the left-hand side of the drawing. It is thought that Margaret Macdonald, alone or perhaps in collaboration with her husband, created a pair of oil paintings for the Dug Out tea room. 21

Colour photograph of block plan for addition at Willow Tea Rooms, 1916Colour photograph of basement and ground-floor plans, at present, and section for addition at Willow Tea Rooms, 1916Colour photograph of basement and ground-floor plans, as proposed, and details for addition at Willow Tea Rooms, 1916

Later alterations

1927

In 1919, Miss Cranston retired and the Willow Tea Rooms were sold to Glasgow restaurateur John Smith, whose new restaurant was named 'The Kensington'. 22 No alterations appear to have been made at that time. However, in 1927, John Smith sold the building to Daly & Co., who incorporated the former lunch and tea rooms into their neighbouring department store, which extended E. to the junction of Sauchiehall Street and West Campbell Street. Extensive alterations to the exterior and interior were made at that time. 23

Mackintosh's distinctive recessed ground floor was replaced with a plate-glass shop display window continuing the established pattern of Daly's shopfront. The fascia sign was shared with 211. At the boundary of 211 and 217 a substantial cast-iron column with an enormous, solid 'butt' below it in the basement was inserted to support the facades above. Recessed immediately behind the column, a new single entrance door gave access to the large open shop floor inside which was formed by demolishing the party wall between 211 and 217 as far back as the internal staircase. Three massive E.–W. steel beams spanning 211 and 217 were inserted to support the upper floors on removal of the internal load-bearing wall. Two columns and corresponding 'butts' were inserted at the staircase. 24 On the ground floor, a display platform behind the front window of 217 was created and the former doorway to the Dug Out in the W. wall was blocked up. To the rear, at Sauchiehall Lane, the stairs were removed and the door blocked up and a new door in the E. wall of 211 was created to access further departments of Daly's. Some internal decoration, such as the panelling in the former Front Room and the wrought-iron balustrades, was retained by Daly's.

In the basement of 211 and 217, the configuration of lavatories from the time of the Willow Tea Rooms remained largely intact. The kitchen was removed. Doorways and other connections to the basement of 219 were blocked up and a new link door in the E. wall was created, as on the ground floor. The layout and structure of the Gallery and the first, second and third floors of 217 were largely unaltered by Daly's. The decoration, including the leaded-glass doors, the fireplace, vaulted ceiling and Margaret Macdonald Mackintosh's gesso panel were retained in what had been the Ladies' Room or Salon de Luxe. Doorways in 211 on each level adjacent to the internal stair, which had been blocked up for the tea rooms in 1903, were reopened. Improvements were made to the lavatories on the first floor in 217 and new lavatories were fitted on the third floor. A link door was constructed in the E. wall of 211 to connect with other departments of Daly's.

1975–6

By the mid 1970s, Daly's was owned by House of Fraser. The ground floor and Gallery served the purposes of the department store: on the first floor, the former Ladies' Room or Room de Luxe had become the 'Willow Coffee Room'; and the second and third floors had become offices and kitchens respectively. 25

1978–80

Just over 50 years after acquiring the former Willow Tea Rooms, Daly's moved E. along Sauchiehall Street to the newly constructed Sauchiehall Centre, the site of the former Pettigrew & Stephens department store. 217 and its neighbours were bought by property developer Arrowcroft Ltd. When planning permission for the site was granted, conditions were included specifically intended to return 217, as far as was possible, to its 1903 state. Keppie, Henderson & Partners, successors to Honeyman, Keppie & Mackintosh, were commissioned to carry out the restoration work.

As Geoff Wimpenny, architect in charge, reported, the first main task was to return 217 to the status of a self-contained unit by reinstating the load-bearing wall shared with 211 and removing the steel columns at the internal stairs on the ground floor. Although the ground floor of the N. elevation had been dramatically altered for Daly's, it proved less difficult to restore than had been anticipated: the massive rolled-steel and concrete beam carrying the upper floors of the facade and the side fixings for the main window were discovered in situ. New windows corresponding to original designs were installed and many of the original decorative details such as panelling and fireplaces (including the one in the W. wall of the Front Room lost to the Dug Out entrance in 1917) were renewed, restored or replaced with replicas in appropriate materials. Casts were made of surviving Front Room panels while items of 'pseudo-Mackintosh work' in materials which did not exist in his period were removed and replaced. Surviving photographs of the Willow Tea Rooms in 1904 were utilised during the restoration and 'proportioned up' to make accurate recreations of decorative details. 26

Daly's had made a number of further alterations to the building, especially in the Gallery. The lattice ceiling had been removed and replaced with a false, solid ceiling with central light-well. The tapered columns had been removed. The two large, timber-clad beams, visible in the light-well between the Gallery and the ground floor, had also been removed by the 1960s and replaced with load-bearing columns on the ground floor. 27

Funds available in 1979 did not stretch to the reinstatement of the lattice ceiling or the tapered columns, but it was hoped that further funding could be secured. The columns, lattice ceiling and timber-clad beams were reinstated during the 1980s (although the ground-floor columns from the 1960s are still in place in the Back Room in 2011). 28 The Gallery windows in the S. wall which had been much reduced in width were also restored to their 1903 proportions during the 1980s. 29

Challenges during the restoration of the building included difficulties in locating suitable materials and a shortage of necessary craft skills. There were also late-1970s fire safety regulations to be taken into account, which particularly affected work on the main staircase. The architects wished to retain its openness to the ground floor and Gallery, with only the wrought-iron balustrade decorated with glass-baubles. Despite an appeal to the Secretary of State, fire-safe doors and windows were ultimately required to enclose the stair, and access from stair to Gallery was blocked off, thus detracting from the original design. A new access stair to the Gallery was constructed on the W. wall. 30

In November 1983, the Ladies' Room or Salon de Luxe was sublet by Anne Mulhern and reopened as a tea room. In 1996, the Gallery was also brought back into tea room use. Business continues today (2014). The ground floor was leased as a shop in 1983 by M. M. Henderson Ltd, an established local jeweller, who inserted a partition wall towards the back of the ground floor in order to create a store room. This was removed in 2014 to reveal once more the original Back Room fireplace. 31 The jeweller's business vacated the premises in 2013 and the lease was taken over by the Willow Tea Rooms. The upper floors and basement of the building functione variously as offices, staff rooms and storage for oth the tea rooms.

Aspects of the restoration work in 1979–80 and the subsequent maintenance of the building have been critically reviewed in conservation reports carried out by Piers Kettlewell in 1999 and by Simpson & Brown, chartered architects, in 2008. The 1999 report recommended in particular the forward repositioning of the first-floor bow window (the 1979–80 reconstruction set the glazing back from the facade; originally the window was flush with the wall), the replacement or improvement of the exterior decorative wrought-iron work and glass and the re-rendering and repainting of the N. elevation. 32 Simpson & Brown's report was carried out to support a Listed Building Consent application for repairs to the façades. However, in 2014, the N. elevation remains in a poor state of repair. Both reports also highlighted what had been retained and lost from the original 1903 design, and accounted for the whereabouts of some items of movable furniture. Margaret Macdonald Mackintosh's gesso panel from the Salon de Luxe was in the care of Glasgow Museums, as were the leaded-glass doors from the Salon de Luxe until they were reinstated in 2008. 33

Record keeping

Entries in the Honeyman & Keppie job books for work supervised by Mackintosh were often exhaustively detailed. For the major work in 1903 everything was outlined, from the mason and joiner work, through furnishings and fittings, to the array of variously-sized coloured glass baubles decorating stair balustrades and light fittings. The job books are not the only record of work carried out: contractors' records are a rare find. In 1995, the unique viewpoint of measurers Danskin & Purdie was discussed in an article in the Charles Rennie Mackintosh Society Newsletter in relation to their role in the 1903 work at the Willow Tea Rooms (as well as at Miss Cranston's other three businesses). J. M. Trushell, a partner of the firm in 1995, described the 'Cube Books', which recorded the cubic content of the buildings, the estimated cost of the work for each trade before the work was carried out and the measured cost on completion. 34 The measurements for the Willow were a 'mere £74 5s 4d or 2.2.% in excess of the estimates – a triumph of surveying skill'. In contrast to the remodelling of the Ingram Street Tea Rooms, the Willow 'was perhaps the quintessence of a carefully cost-controlled project'. 35

Popular and critical reception

On 27 March 1903, very shortly after work was under way on site at the Willow Tea Rooms, Mackintosh wrote to Hermann Muthesius: 'Miss Cranston is delighted with everything I have suggested, she thinks this is going to be by far her best place'. 36 Miss Cranston knew her market well: the design of her new tea rooms was reported in glowing terms by the popular press following its opening in late October 1903 .

The Glasgow Evening News, sister publication of the Glasgow Herald, named Mackintosh as architect, and 'complimented [him] on the result attained'. The new tea rooms were described as perhaps 'the acme of originality'. The decoration and furnishing of the 'Salon de Luxe' and the stairway were considered highlights. 37 Customer service also met high standards: 'the art studied here has been the art of serving the customers without a moment's delay'. 38 Miss Cranston's reputation for innovative design and impeccable service was upheld on both counts.

A few days later in the Bailie, Miss Cranston's new tea rooms were said to outshine 'all others in the matters of arrangement and colour', being the richest, most comfortable and most luxurious. The architect was not mentioned. The term 'Salon de Luxe' was again used, and it was described as 'simply a marvel of the art of the upholsterer and decorator'. 39 In a brief notice in the Glasgow Advertiser & Property Circular on 10 November 1903 the contractors were praised for the workmanship of all the specially-made fittings. The new tea rooms were described as 'extremely prettily decorated' and it was considered that the 'artistic scheme' had been carried out with 'great forethought'. 40

Popular admiration for the Willow Tea Rooms was captured in one of Glasgow journalist Neil Munro's humorous stories featuring a character named Erchie, published under the pseudonym Hugh Foulis in the Glasgow Evening News in 1904. 41 In 'Erchie in an Art Tea-Room', Erchie and his friend Duffy, two working-class men, visit the Willow Tea Rooms and, while feeling somewhat out of place and overwhelmed by the artistic and elegant surroundings, comment with awe on the decoration, furnishings and fittings of the various rooms, the system of ordering and Miss Cranston's acumen for choosing such a novel design. They dub the Salon de Luxe the 'Room de Looks' – a visit to Miss Cranston's was partly about spectacle after all. After noticing the pretty waitress there, Duffy revises this to the 'Room de Good Looks'. 42

The architectural press remained almost silent on the Willow Tea Rooms. As Howarth remarked, 'the architectural profession in this country was left to make what it could of an illustration of the lower half of the facade that appeared in the Builders' Journal and Architectural Engineer. 43 The illustration was accompanied by a very perfunctory description of 'Miss Cranston's New Restaurant' by Honeyman, Keppie & Mackintosh, forming a very small part of a long article on new buildings in Glasgow, Scotland Street School among them.

However in April 1905, the German journal Dekorative Kunst, published a substantial and laudatory article on the Willow Tea Rooms, illustrated with many photographs. 44 The author, Fernando Agnoletti, was lecturer in Italian at the University of Glasgow, and a friend and passionate supporter of the Mackintoshes. He hailed Mackintosh as one of the few 'master architects' in Europe and stated that he was under-appreciated in his native city and country. Despite having created masterpieces at the School of Art, Windyhill and The Hill House as well as 'several other less important buildings' in Glasgow, Agnoletti explained that Mackintosh still sought a way to bring his work closer to the people. The ideal method was found in the tea rooms of Miss Cranston, who very much appreciated his architecture and design. Miss Cranston's tea rooms were described collectively as a 'fairyland' created by a 'sorcerer'. 45 At the Willow Tea Rooms, the 'brilliant manifestation of [Mackintosh's] liking for unity of effect, purity and simplicity and his dislike of everything customary' was praised. The fenestration of the ground floor gave a sense of solid stability, the bow window on the first floor was described as cheerful and harmonious and the light-coloured facade above as triumphant. 46 For 'little birds and elegant ladies alike', the Willow Tea Rooms offered an escape from the polluted city outside. 47 An in-depth description of each room and an explanation of the willow motif followed.

Notes:

1: 211–217 were two four-storey buildings with shops on the ground floor, tenements above and basements below. In 1904, Miss Cranston's in Sauchiehall Street is listed in the Post Office directory as having lunch rooms at 215 and tea rooms at 217: Glasgow Post Office Directory, 1904–5, p. 942.

2: Roger Billcliffe, Charles Rennie Mackintosh: The Complete Furniture, Furniture Drawings and Interior Designs, Moffat, Dumfriesshire: Cameron & Hollis, 4th edn, 2009, p. 151. The name 'Willow Tea Rooms' never occurs in the Glasgow Post Office directories: the business name was always given as 'Miss Cranston's Lunch and Tea Rooms'.

3: Thomas Howarth, Charles Rennie Mackintosh and the Modern Movement, London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 2nd edn, 1977, p. 137. Berlin, Werkbundarchiv, Museum der Dinge: Hermann Muthesius Estate, letter from Mackintosh to Hermann Muthesius, c. April–May 1903 (date attributed by Pamela Robertson).

4: On the longitudinal section, Mackintosh noted in red ink that this 'window will not project more than 12 ins from building line': in fact it was the wall and window together which projected beyond the existing building line.

5: Fernando Agnoletti, 'Ein Mackintosh Teehaus in Glasgow', Dekorative Kunst, 12, April 1905, pp. 257–75, p. 264.

6: Thomas Howarth, Charles Rennie Mackintosh and the Modern Movement, London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 2nd edn, 1977, pp. 137–8.

7: The lecture is reproduced in Pamela Robertson, ed., Charles Rennie Mackintosh: The Architectural Papers, Wendlebury, Oxon: White Cockade in association with the Hunterian Art Gallery, 1990, pp. 180–200; quotation from p. 186.

8: Beresford Pite, 'The Modern Shop Front and the Storeys above', Building Industries , 13, 16 July 1902, p. 58.

9: The colour of the tiles is given in Fernando Agnoletti, 'Ein Mackintosh Teehaus in Glasgow', Dekorative Kunst, 12, April 1905, pp. 257–75, p, 262.

10: Alan Crawford, Charles Rennie Mackintosh, London: Thames & Hudson, 1995, p. 108.

11: Roger Billcliffe, Charles Rennie Mackintosh: The Complete Furniture, Furniture Drawings and Interior Designs, Moffat, Dumfriesshire: Cameron & Hollis, 4th edn, 2009, p. 151.

12: More detail on the interior schemes for the tea rooms can found in Roger Billcliffe, Charles Rennie Mackintosh: The Complete Furniture, Furniture Drawings and Interior Designs, Moffat, Dumfriesshire: Cameron & Hollis, 4th edn, 2009, pp. 151–65.

13: Robert Macleod, Charles Rennie Mackintosh: Architect and Artist, London: Collins, 1983, p. 104.

14: Roger Billcliffe, Charles Rennie Mackintosh: The Complete Furniture, Furniture Drawings and Interior Designs, Moffat, Dumfriesshire: Cameron & Hollis, 4th edn, 2009, p. 153.

15: The name Salon de Luxe was used in contemporary newspaper reports on the opening of the tea rooms. See 'Popular and Critical Reception' below.

16: Roger Billcliffe, Charles Rennie Mackintosh: The Complete Furniture, Furniture Drawings and Interior Designs, Moffat, Dumfriesshire: Cameron & Hollis, 4th edn, 2009, p. 154.

17: Roger Billcliffe, Charles Rennie Mackintosh: The Complete Furniture, Furniture Drawings and Interior Designs, Moffat, Dumfriesshire: Cameron & Hollis, 4th edn, 2009, pp. 153–4.

18: Drawings were discovered in Strathclyde Regional Council archive around the time of the renovations in 1978–80. Geoff Wimpenny, Reconstructing the Willow', Charles Rennie Mackintosh Society Newsletter, 24, Winter 1979–80, p. 4.

19: Coll. The Glasgow School of Art

20: Roger Billcliffe, Charles Rennie Mackintosh: The Complete Furniture, Furniture Drawings and Interior Designs, Moffat, Dumfriesshire: Cameron & Hollis, 4th edn, 2009, pp. 295–7.

21: More detail on the interior scheme for the Dug Out can found in Roger Billcliffe, Charles Rennie Mackintosh: The Complete Furniture, Furniture Drawings and Interior Designs, Moffat, Dumfriesshire: Cameron & Hollis, 4th edn, 2009, pp. 295–7. The Little Hills oil paintings in The Hunterian, University of Glasgow: GLAHA 41962.

22: Perilla Kinchin, Miss Cranston: Patron of Charles Rennie Mackintosh, Edinburgh: NMS Publishing Ltd, 1999, p. 83.

23: Glasgow City Archives Collection: Glasgow Dean of Guild Court plans, B412/1927/114; Geoff Wimpenny, 'Reconstructing the Willow', Charles Rennie Mackintosh Society Newsletter, 24, Winter 1979–80, pp. 3–6; Elizabeth Williamson, Anne Riches and Malcolm Higgs, Buildings of Scotland: Glasgow, London: Penguin, 1990, p. 241.

24: Geoff Wimpenny, 'Reconstructing the Willow', Charles Rennie Mackintosh Society Newsletter, 24, Winter 1979–80, pp. 3–4.

25: Alison Harris, 'A report on the present and future condition of the remaining buildings of Charles Rennie Mackintosh', Mackintosh School of Architecture, Glasgow: unpublished Dip.Arch. thesis, 1976, pp. 29ff.

26: Geoff Wimpenny, 'Reconstructing the Willow', Charles Rennie Mackintosh Society Newsletter, 24, Winter 1979–80, pp. 3–4.

27: Geoff Wimpenny, 'Reconstructing the Willow', Charles Rennie Mackintosh Society Newsletter, 24, Winter 1979–80, pp. 3–4; Simpson & Brown, 'The Willow Tea Rooms Building, No. 217 Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow: Conservation Plan. Draft', May 2008, Gazetteer, Ground Floor, p. 8.

28: Geoff Wimpenny, 'Reconstructing the Willow', Charles Rennie Mackintosh Society Newsletter, no. 24, Winter 1979–80, p. 5; Simpson & Brown, 'The Willow Tea Rooms Building, No. 217 Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow: Conservation Plan. Draft', May 2008, Gazetteer, Ground Floor, p. 14.

29: Simpson & Brown, 'The Willow Tea Rooms Building, No. 217 Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow: Conservation Plan. Draft', May 2008, Gazetteer, Facades, p. 3.

30: The Hunterian, University of Glasgow, Willow Tea Rooms building file, copies of Keppie, Henderson & Partners drawings prepared for the 1979 reconstruction. Geoff Wimpenny, 'Reconstructing the Willow', Charles Rennie Mackintosh Society Newsletter, 24, Winter 1979–80, p. 5. When Wimpenny's article was published it was not clear whether the building would function as a tea room again.

31: Simpson & Brown, 'The Willow Tea Rooms Building, No. 217 Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow: Conservation Plan. Draft', May 2008, Gazetteer, Ground Floor, p. 4.

32: Piers Kettlewell, Conservation Report, 1999, pp. 3–10.

33: Piers Kettlewell, Conservation Report, 1999, pp. 3, 10; The Hunterian, University of Glasgow: letter from Anne Mulhern (proprietor of The Willow Tea Rooms) to Pamela Robertson, 3 November 2008.

34: J. M. Trushell, 'Miss Cranston's Tea Rooms: Cost Analyses', Charles Rennie Mackintosh Society Newsletter, 67, Summer 1995, p. 3.

35: J. M. Trushell, 'Miss Cranston's Tea Rooms: Cost Analyses', Charles Rennie Mackintosh Society Newsletter, 67, Summer 1995, p. 4.

36: Berlin, Werkbundarchiv, Museum der Dinge: Hermann Muthesius Estate, letter from Mackintosh to Hermann Muthesius, 27 March 1903.

37: This is the first time the first-floor tea room is named 'Salon de Luxe'; Mackintosh's drawings submitted to the Dean of Guild Court referred to it as the Ladies' Room.

38: Glasgow Evening News, 29 October 1903, p. 7.

39: Bailie, 4 November 1903, p. 6.

40: Glasgow Advertiser & Property Circular, 10 November 1903, p. 3.

41: Brian D. Osborne and Ronald Armstrong, eds, That Vital Spark: A Neil Munro Anthology, Edinburgh: Birlinn, 2002, p. 66.

42: Brian D. Osborne and Ronald Armstrong, eds, That Vital Spark: A Neil Munro Anthology, Edinburgh: Birlinn, 2002, pp. 66–70; Perilla Kinchin, Tea and Taste: The Glasgow Tea Rooms, 1875–1975, Wendlebury, Oxon: White Cockade, 1991, pp. 109–12.

43: Thomas Howarth, Charles Rennie Mackintosh and the Modern Movement, London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 2nd edn, 1977, p. 141; Builders' Journal and Architectural Engineer, 24, 28 November 1906, p. 263.

44: Fernando Agnoletti, 'Ein Mackintosh Teehaus in Glasgow', Dekorative Kunst, 12, April 1905, pp. 257–75

45: Fernando Agnoletti, 'Ein Mackintosh Teehaus in Glasgow', Dekorative Kunst, 12, April 1905, pp. 257–75, pp. 258–60 (translation by Nicky Imrie).

46: Fernando Agnoletti, 'Ein Mackintosh Teehaus in Glasgow', Dekorative Kunst, 12, April 1905, pp. 257–75, pp. 262–4 (translation by Nicky Imrie).

47: Fernando Agnoletti, 'Ein Mackintosh Teehaus in Glasgow', Dekorative Kunst, 12, April 1905, pp. 257–75, p. 264 (translation by Nicky Imrie).