Glasgow's celebrated Willow Tea Rooms
The interior and facade were designed by Glasgow’s most famous architect/designer, Charles Rennie Mackintosh (1868-1928) whose key achievement was the design of places to be inhabited. The street name ‘Sauchiehall’ means ‘alley of the willows’ and throughout the rooms Mackintosh used the willow motif.
These Tea Rooms have recently re-opened following an extensive refurbishment consequent on change of ownership.
Sauchiehall Street is partly pedestrianised and is well populated with shops catering for a wide range of merchandise.
Mackintosh was commissioned by Catherine Cranston, a lady who was at the forefront of the tea room phenomenon. The rooms provided a secure and respectable social centre where ladies of the day could venture out and meet at a time when ladies out alone were considered to be either servants or of dubious morality. The Tea Rooms opened in 1903.
The tea rooms were not akin to modern-day cafes but offered private facilities for dining, reading, writing, billiards and smoking. No alcohol was permitted.
Mackintosh was Catherine Cranston’s designer for 21 years from 1897. Here, at Sauchiehall Street, he designed the complete interiors and front facade of the building which Miss Cranston bought in 1901.The Rooms occupy the ground and first floors. Next door is a Visitor Centre, Conference, Exhibition, Education and Learning Suite and Retail Site.
Mackintosh has left an extensive legacy of his work around Glasgow, as illustrated in this blog post.