Alterations to hairdressing salon

M323 Alterations to hairdressing salon

Address: 80 or 80B, Union Street, Glasgow G1 3QS
Date: 1912
Client: William Ritchie
Authorship: Authorship category 1 (Mackintosh) (Mackintosh)

Colour photograph of 78–82 Union Street, Glasgow

This small shop formed part of a large commercial building at 78–82 Union Street, thought to date from c. 1880. 1

In the Glasgow Post Office Directory for 1910–11, a hairdresser named John Taynton is listed at 80B Union Street, but by the 1911–12 edition a business called the Imperial Hairdressing Company had taken his place. By the 1914–15 edition, this had been replaced by another hairdresser, James Stewart, who remained until 1924. Honeyman, Keppie & Mackintosh's client was a William Ritchie (his name is inscribed on Mackintosh's drawings). He does not feature at all in the Post Office directories, but he is probably to be identified with a hairdresser of the same name who is known to have had a business nearby at 7 Maxwell Street. 2 Ritchie may have been the proprietor of the short-lived Imperial Hairdressing Company; or he may only have had a speculative interest in the Union Street shop, commissioning Mackintosh to show how the premises might be adapted to his needs, before finally deciding not to proceed.

Mackintosh's proposals for Ritchie are known from a handful of rough drawings in The Hunterian, University of Glasgow. Some of these are the result of a survey made in April 1912. They show that the shop was long from front to back, but very narrow (no doubt the result of vertically subdividing a unit of normal width, as the number 80B suggests). 3 It was spread over three levels: basement, ground floor, and a third level which may have been a mezzanine. The survey drawings are sketchy, but notes such as 'mahogany panelling' and 'Corinthian caps' suggest a typical late Victorian or Edwardian commercial interior. The most important change proposed by Mackintosh was a spiral stair running between the three levels (the previous arrangements for vertical circulation are not clear). As well as individual cubicles for hairdressing on the ground floor, Mackintosh included a beauty parlour and 'massage saloon' on the upper level and a rest room and second massage room in the basement. The walls of the basement were to be lined in such a way that pipe work was hidden. The sketches do not show any significant structural alterations, and it seems that this was essentially a shop-fitting job. The most detailed drawing is for a full-length winged mirror with a border of small squares, which according to an inscription was one of eight required for the beauty parlour and massage room. 4

It is not clear if the proposals shown in these drawings were actually carried out. On 16 April 1913, Honeyman, Keppie & Mackintosh were paid £21 for a job described in their cash book as 'Wm Ritchie Barber's Shop'. 5 They must have done a fairly substantial amount of work to earn this fee, but the practice job book contains no record of it. The payment may have been in connection with 80/80B Union Street, or possibly 7 Maxwell Street.

In 1924 the entire ground floor of 78–82 Union Street was rebuilt as a branch of the National Bank of Scotland by Andrew Balfour & Stewart. 6 A survey made at the time shows no evidence of the changes previously proposed by Mackintosh, so if his 1912 sketches were ever implemented, the results had already been erased by 1924. 7

A report on the building was produced as part of the Mackintosh Buildings Survey, led by the Charles Rennie Mackintosh Society and carried out between 2015 and 2016. It concluded that probably no work by Mackintosh survives. 8



1: Elizabeth Williamson, Anne Riches and Malcolm Higgs, Buildings of Scotland: Glasgow, London: Penguin, 1990, p. 245.

2: Parish of Glasgow Valuation Roll, 1913–14, survey book 389, municipal ward 10, p. 3.

3: The Hunterian, University of Glasgow: GLAHA 41868 M(323-007); GLAHA 41870 (M323-006).

4: The Hunterian, University of Glasgow: GLAHA 41794; Roger Billcliffe, Charles Rennie Mackintosh: The Complete Furniture, Furniture Drawings and Interior Designs, Moffat, Dumfriesshire: Cameron & Hollis, 4th edn, 2009, p. 266–7.

5: The Hunterian, University of Glasgow: John Honeyman & Keppie / Honeyman, Keppie & Mackintosh / Keppie Henderson cash book, 1889–1917, GLAHA 53079, p. 157.

6: Glasgow City Archives Collection: Dean of Guild plans, 1924/452.

7: Glasgow City Archives Collection: Dean of Guild plans, 1924/452.

8: A copy of the report (MBS48) is held by the Charles Rennie Mackintosh Society, Mackintosh Queen's Cross, 870 Garscube Road, Glasgow G20 7EL. The Mackintosh Buildings Survey was funded by The Monument Trust.