A Warm Welcome

Heritage Lottery Fund Supported

Heritage Lottery Fund Supported

Original Mackintosh panel (detail).

Original Mackintosh panel (detail).

Miss Cranston’s ORIGINAL Willow Tea Rooms at 217 Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow, were designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh in 1903.


This historic building is of the greatest significance for Scotland’s design heritage.  It is the only tea room where Mackintosh was in control of the exterior and the interior and his arrangement of the internal spaces and his designs for the furniture are unparalleled in his designs for tea rooms.

The building is recognised internationally for its importance as the only surviving tea room designed in its entirety by Charles Rennie Mackintosh.

It is our purpose to restore it to its former glory for future generations to appreciate and enjoy.

The building at 217 Sauchiehall Street was purchased in 2014 in order to prevent the forced sale of the building, closure of the Tea Rooms and loss of its contents to collectors.  It is now in the ownership of 'The Willow Tea Rooms Trust', a registered charity.

The tea rooms are a catalyst for the regeneration of this part of Glasgow and will become a focal point for Cultural Tourism, attracting both domestic and international visitors.

The Trust is currently raising funds to bring this world class 'interactive visitor/exhibition centre, education and learning suite':  a living breathing museum experience in the beautifully re-created Salon de Luxe at the 'Mackintosh Tea Rooms' as commissioned by Catherine Cranston in 1903.  

We launch in June 2018 in line with Charles Rennie Mackintosh's 150th birthday celebrations.



1903 - PRESENT DAY

Original elevation onto Sauchiehall St. 

Original elevation onto Sauchiehall St. 

1903

Charles Rennie Mackintosh was commissioned by Catherine Cranston in 1903 to convert an 1860s tenement into a fashionable tea room and restaurant.

The Willow Tea Rooms opened on October 29, 1903 outshining Miss Cranston’s other establishments.  It
was the place to see and be seen!

Image by Bethany Weeks, Flickr Creative Commons

Image by Bethany Weeks, Flickr Creative Commons

PRESENT DAY

The Willow Tea Rooms closed in 1928; its furniture was sold and the building was bought by Daly’s department store.  In 1978 Daly’s moved to new premises and attempts were made to restore the surviving interiors.  

In recent years the building suffered from several changes of ownership and subsequently deteriorated to a point where its physical survival was uncertain.

 

Our Mission Statement

The Willow Tea Rooms Trust was established in 2014 as a charity with the aim of acquiring Miss Cranston's Tea Rooms at 217 Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow. The building is now in ownership of the Trust.

Our formal objective is to restore the building to Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s 1903 design whilst ensuring its preservation for subsequent generations.

Although The Trust is in its infancy, much has been achieved in a very short time.  As our journey progresses, more information will be posted on our News section and Facebook page.


OUR VISION

The Willow Tea Rooms Trust was created to restore this key work by Scotland’s greatest Architect.

We feel strongly that this building is of national and international importance. 

Our main objective is to restore the Tea Rooms and Willow Tea Rooms building to their original splendour.

A History of The Willow Tea Rooms

1903:  The Willow Tea Rooms, Glasgow

The site chosen for the Tea Rooms was at the middle of Glasgow’s most fashionable street. ‘Sauchiehall’ means ‘alley of willows’, and the theme of young willows – both naturalistic and metaphorical – was used throughout the building.  The Willow Tea Rooms were also notable as being the only ones where Mackintosh was able to design the exteriors as well as the interiors.  Enclosed between existing buildings, the site had frontage only to the north and south.  The entrance was in the north elevation which rose through four storeys; on the south side, Mackintosh modified the ground-floor elevation of the existing extension, which was never intended for public view, adding new windows, a new chimney and fire escape doors.
 
The variety and arrangement of rooms was similar to those at the Argyle Street and Ingram Street Tea Rooms, though here there was a special dining room, the Room de Luxe, which was at the heart of the building and was unique in Mackintosh’s oeuvre.  The entrance was at ground level in Sauchiehall Street, and visitors were channelled to the foot of the main staircase past a long, white-painted panelled screen, with glass panels above, like that used at Ingram Street.  At the end of this corridor was the central cash desk, and here customers had the choice of entering the Front or Back saloons or ascending the staircase to the Gallery and upper floors.  The basement contained cloakrooms and lavatories, and also the kitchens.


Roger Billcliffe

The most elegant of Miss Cranston’s four Tea Rooms, the Willow Tea Rooms in Sauchiehall Street opened in October 1903. Mackintosh had been at work designing it from the beginning of 1903, if not earlier (the plans submitted to the Dean of Guild Court, Glasgow, are dated February 1903).  Most of the furniture was put out to tender from July to September 1903, but some pieces were still being added in 1905.  It was the last complete suite of rooms he designed for Miss Cranston, although additions and alterations at Ingram Street were carried out piecemeal until about 1912.

The building housing the Willow Tea Rooms is in the middle of a tenement block on Sauchiehall Street, erected in the 1860s, with three floors of flats above the commercial premises on the ground floor.  The tenements were grouped in pairs, each pair above the ground floor having a central common staircase and elevations that mirrored each other.  The Willow is situated at 217 Sauchiehall Street and paired with number 215.  It was extended at the rear, on the ground floor and basement, probably in 1892, before Mackintosh’s involvement.  Miss Cranston may have rented number 215 as well as number 217; certainly, Mackintosh’s alterations to 217 impinged on 215 and both buildings are shown on his submissions to the Dean of Guild Court.  The common staircase was subsumed into the Willow, thus widening its frontage on to Sauchiehall Street, and a staircase providing access to the upper floors of 215 was added at its rear.