Records of Cranston's Tea Rooms Ltd, Glasgow, Scotland

Scope and Content

These records include no material relating to Charles Rennie Mackintosh or Catherine Cranston but to the business' later dealings from 1938 to its liquidation in 1954.

  • Minutes, 1938-1955;
  • Sales ledger, 1938-1954;
  • Day book, 1942-1954;

Administrative / Biographical History

Catherine Cranston owned four tea shops in Glasgow, Scotland, at the beginning of the 20th century. The most famous of these were the Willow Tea Rooms at 217 Sauchihall Street. Completed in 1903, Cranston employed the architect and designer Charles Rennie Mackintosh to design the scheme for the shop. The tea rooms design was inspired by Rossetti's sonnet "O Ye, all ye that walk in Willow Wood" and which saw art and mysticism wedded to commerce for the first time. Mackintosh remodelled the structure of the building himself, formerly a warehouse, and designed the fixtures, fitting and even the cutlery.

The plain white front of the tearooms with chequered border made the shop stand out from its neighbours and the domestic-style leaded windows advertised the intimacy of the interior which was to suggest a willow grove. Spaces were patterns of receding, thin vertical lines using metal screens, wooden panels and the famous tall, ladderback chairs.

By 1938, the tea rooms at 43 Argyll Arcade, 28 Buchanan Street, Renfield Street and Queen Street were run by  Cranston's Tea Rooms Ltd . The board of directors consisted of Michael Hook, George Borland and J Adair Mackie. The tea shops themselves were run by a general manager. In  May 1950  , the Renfield Street shop was put up for sale and in  1954  the company went into liquidation and were late sold. The Cranston Tearooms, including the Willow Tearooms, were still a feature of Glasgow in 2002..

Source:  John Keay & Julia Keay (eds.),Collins Encyclopaedia of Scotland(London, 1994)


This material is arranged into series. Within series, the items are generally arranged chronologically.

Access Information


Acquisition Information

Permanent loan: Deloitte & Touche, chartered accountants: Glasgow

Other Finding Aids

Digital file level list available in searchroom

Manual file level list available at the National Registers of Archives in Edinburgh (NRA(S)1546)

Alternative Form Available

No known copies

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Applications for permission to quote should be sent to the University Archivist

Reproduction subject to usual conditions: educational use & condition of documents

Appraisal Information

This material has been appraised in line with normal procedures

Custodial History

Held by Deloitte & Touche, chartered accountants


None expected

Related Material

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Material in other repositories: no material associated by provenance


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Additional Information

This material is original

Amended by Emma Yan, Assistant Archivist (Cataloguing), 09 April 2008


Geographical Names