Our Story

Mackintosh at the Willow Our Story

Mackintosh at the Willow includes a 200 seat restaurant in the A listed, internationally recognised, original Willow Tea Rooms Building at 217 Sauchiehall Street Glasgow and our new Visitor Centre next door at #215.

 

The famous Tea Rooms first opened in 1903 and are of huge importance to Glasgow’s architectural and cultural heritage and are the only surviving Tea Rooms designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh for local entrepreneur and patron Miss Kate Cranston.

 

Over the years and through various changes of ownership and use, the building had deteriorated until it was purchased in 2014 by The Willow Tea Rooms Trust in order to prevent the forced sale of the building, closure of the Tea Rooms and loss of its contents to collectors.

 

For the last 4 years it has been undergoing an extensive restoration in order to bring it back to its former glory, to reopen it to the public and create a sustainable future.

 

Mackintosh at the Willow operates as a social enterprise creating training, learning, employment and other opportunities and support for young people and communities. We’ve worked with The Prince’s Trust and Dumfries House who have recruited and provided training for young people and we’ve created employment, skills development and further training opportunities for them at Mackintosh at the Willow. When you visit, some of our staff who will welcome and serve you and prepare your food are our young trainees, developing their skills and experience and building great careers and opportunities.

 

For more information on the history of the building and the story of the restoration visit www.willowtearoomstrust.org

Meet the makers

Alan Dawson

Legendary Alan Dawson, Master Blacksmith and Fellow of the Worshipful Company of Blacksmith has worked on the larger metal pieces for the restoration including the large metal lighting ring in the Front and Back Saloon and the exterior signage on the front of the building.

John Creed

John Creed Designer and craftsman in metals, John has worked on the finer, detailed pieces for the restoration including the light shades and fittings in the Front and Back Saloon and Gallery, the fittings for the chandeliers in the Salon de Luxe and the fittings for the centrepiece baldacchino in the Front Saloon.

Frank McGourlick

Clark Contracts are the main contractors for the restoration and their Manufactured Joinery Division has also created the fixed seating as part of the restoration, including in the Billiard Room and the frame for the centrepiece baldacchino in the Front Saloon. Frank McGourlick, expert joiner is a key member of the team working on the restoration.

Angus Ross

Award winning Angus Ross and his team, based in Aberfeldy, specialise in combining traditional woodwork with the ancient process of steam-bending and the latest cutting technologies and have made the ladder back chairs for the Front and Back Saloon areas.

Bruce Hamilton

Bruce Hamilton has gained recognition as a producer of fine quality Charles Rennie Mackintosh reproduction furniture and has created the low back armchairs for the restoration that you will see in the Front and Back Saloon and the Gallery.

Linda Cannon

Linda specialises in stained glass conservation and is an accredited conservator who has worked for 40 years in stained glass design and colour work. Linda has worked on the restoration of the mirrored panels in the Salon de Luxe, fitting the glass in the doors, in the exterior signage, the lamps and fitting the glass to the Salon de Luxe chandeliers.

Rab MacInnes

Rab is a glass designer, painter and accredited conservator, trained at Glasgow School of Art and the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris.  Rab’s work includes the design of the glass droplets for the chandeliers in the Salon de Luxe, the glass for the metal work in the exterior signage, the interior metal work and lamps and the glass for the silver Salon de Luxe chairs and tables.

Kelvin Murray

Kelvin and his team at Character Joinery specialise in traditionally skilled bespoke joinery and have created the striking silver finish chairs, tables and umbrella and coat stands for the famous and luxurious Salon de Luxe as well as the Order Chair for the Back Saloon.

Charles Rennie Mackintosh

Miss Cranston’s original Willow Tea Rooms Building at 217 Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow were designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh in 1903. These are the only surviving Tea Rooms where Mackintosh had complete design control, over both the interior and exterior. Today this beautiful A listed building is internationally recognised for it’s design by Mackintosh and as the one of the finest examples in the world of a complete Art Nouveau scheme.

Catherine Cranston

Catherine Cranston, widely known as Kate Cranston or Miss Cranston, was a leading figure in the development of tea rooms. She is nowadays chiefly remembered as a major patron of Charles Rennie Mackintosh and Margaret MacDonald, in Glasgow, Scotland

Margaret MacDonald

Margaret MacDonald

Margaret Macdonald was an innovative, influential and important Scottish artist, one of The Glasgow Girls, a key figure of the ‘Glasgow Style’ & member of the ‘Glasgow Four” who were highly influential to international art nouveau. A key influence and inspiration to her husband Charles Rennie Mackintosh, she created the beautiful gesso panel in the Salon de Luxe, a re-creation of which is being made as part of the restoration.

Stencil for Back Saloon

Details of our other expert makers coming soon.

Watch the featured film below of Alan Dawsons experience of working on the restoration

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