Dutch Kitchen, Miss Cranston's Lunch, Tea & Smoking Rooms, Argyle Street

M258 Dutch Kitchen, Miss Cranston's Lunch, Tea & Smoking Rooms, Argyle Street

Address: 106–114, Argyle Street, Glasgow G2 8BH
Date: 1905–6
Client: Catherine (Kate) Cranston
Authorship: Authorship category 1 (Mackintosh) (Mackintosh)

Background

114 Argyle Street was the first property in Miss Catherine (Kate) Cranston's Glasgow tea-room business. In 1878 'C. Cranston' and 'Crown Tea Rooms' first appeared at this address in the Glasgow Post Office Directory. 1 The name 'Crown' came from an earlier hotel in nearby George Square, owned and run by Miss Cranston's parents. 2

114 was a ground-floor shop associated with the adjacent Aitken's Temperance Hotel. Its proprietor, John Aitken, was a personal friend of Miss Cranston's father's cousin, Robert Cranston of Edinburgh. Robert Cranston's family ran a chain of temperance hotels in Edinburgh, Glasgow and London under the name 'Waverley', and he and his wife Elizabeth are credited with providing support for their niece's business ambitions. 3

It was not until after her marriage to John Cochrane in 1892 that Miss Cranston began to expand her business. 4 In 1896–7 she opened a second establishment on Buchanan Street for which she commissioned Edinburgh architect George Washington Browne to remodel the exterior and Glasgow designer George Walton to decorate and furnish the interiors. Here Mackintosh received his first Cranston tea-room commission: to design mural decoration for three of the spaces. 5

1897–9

By 1897 the entirety of Aitken's Temperance Hotel at 106–114 Argyle Street belonged to Miss Cranston and she commissioned leading Glasgow practice H. & D. Barclay to redesign the building both inside and out. 6 Miss Cranston's brother, Stuart, had two tea-room premises of his own nearby, and family rivalry may have influenced her decision to expand.

The Barclays removed all classical mouldings from the ten-bay, five-storey 18th-century tenement building and covered the facade with roughcast. They enlivened the roofline with dormers and two ogee gables, one with Gothic bargeboards and an oriel window, and raised a bell-cast turret on the flattened apex of the roof. At the rear, a four-storey bay was added to accommodate lavatories. 7 The main entrance to the tea rooms at 114 was given a bow window and wrought-iron and repoussť copper door fittings. 8 The secondary entrance, reached via a passage and giving access to the upper floors, was decorated with Gothic moulding.

Inside 114 the stairs were reoriented. The upper floors of 106–114 were completely gutted. Long, open-plan lunch and tea rooms were created on the first and second floors; billiard, smoking and reading rooms on the third and attic floors. Stores and offices were also provided. 9

The decoration and furnishing of the new interiors were carried out by George Waltonand Mackintosh. Walton designed the stencilled wall panelling, wooden screens, billiard tables and grates, while Mackintosh was responsible for all the seating (including his famous high-backed chair with bird-like cut-out in the oval backrail), small tables, umbrella stands, and electric lighting for the billiard tables. 10

Exterior, Miss Cranston's, Argyle Street, c. 1903

Dutch Kitchen (1905–6)

Described as 'recently completed' in 1906, the Dutch Kitchen was Mackintosh's only architectural contribution to the Argyle Street premises. 11 Although permission for the necessary alterations appears not to have been sought from Glasgow Dean of Guild Court, significant structural work was clearly involved: the largest sum paid to a contractor was to mason Daniel McCallum, who submitted a tender for work including 'underpinning foundations' in December 1905, and some 'engineering work' was carried out by Babtie & Bonn. 12 There are no surviving drawings that record these structural alterations and the room has since been fundamentally changed: the only record of its original appearance is two photographs by Annan published in the Studio in October 1906. 13

On the basis of the photographs and the 1898 Barclay drawings and evidence recorded during building work in 1990, it seems that the Dutch Kitchen was situated in the basement of 112 and 114. The fireplace was in the western-most wall of the building, corresponding with the chimney there, and the two windows in the S. wall were lit by pavement lights above. 14 It is not clear where the entrance was located: however it seems likely that the room had its own entrance, probably at the rear in Morrison's Court. It may have been for this that a 'folding gate', railings and gate lock in iron were commissioned from George Adam & Son. 15

The room had a low ceiling with deep beams, some structural, others decorative. It was divided centrally, N. to S., by a line of rectangular structural piers, which presumably corresponded to the wall between 112 and 114 above. The large fireplace was set behind a screen consisting of an ogee lintel supported at each side by five slightly tapering wooden rods, forming a kind of inglenook. The fireplace itself, under a massive arched lintel, was lined with blue and white Delft tiles, the single Dutch element in the room. 16 There was a two-row plate-rack above, forming an overmantel. The leaded casement windows appear to have had deep, splayed reveals with recesses to hold vases of flowers. Here, as later at Ingram Street and the Dug-Out at the Willow Tea Rooms, Mackintosh used opaque glazing to admit natural light into a basement space while obscuring an unappealing outlook.

B/W photograph of Dutch Kitchen, Miss Cranston's, Argyle Street, 1906Fireplace, Dutch Kitchen, Miss Cranston's, Argyle Street, 1906

Critical Reception

In the only contemporary report on the tea room, in the Studio in October 1906, critic J. Taylor was concerned only with the decorative scheme and not the architecture: 'Mackintosh adopts the square, the simplest of all conceivable forms, and makes this the theme of his latest decorative intent. It begins on the floor covering, is continued in the mosaic on the hearth, is repeated all over the velvety dado, on the mother-of-pearl panel of the sideboard, and culminates on the broad flat planes of the pillars that divide one end of the room into so many alcoves. In each case the black and white forms the chequey [sic] pattern, the square diminishing in size in the order named.' 17 Windsor-style chairs with curved backs, painted emerald green, served as a striking counterpoint to the simple black and white palette and the 'myriads of tiny squares', which Taylor noted, together with the 'dazzling electric light'. 18 Taylor also noted the 'quaint' recessed fireplace ingleneuk and the steel grate; the 'unpretentious' overmantel plate-rack; and the 'rare beauty' of the 'well-proportioned casements with leaded glass panels' with rose motifs. Overall, decoration and the simple construction and arrangement of the tea room combined 'to make a scheme of remarkable unity and charm'. 19

Later history

The doors of Miss Cranston's Argyle Street tea rooms closed for the final time on 18 May 1918, the building having been sold to shoe retailer Manfield & Sons. 20

Although adapted and altered for subsequent uses, the Walton and Mackintosh decorative schemes were not entirely lost. In 1976 the building was inspected by Glasgow social historian Michael Donnelly who discovered much of the Dutch Kitchen, including the fireplace tiles and grates, intact behind partition walls and panelling. 21

The total renovation of 106–114 Argyle Street in 1990 for conversion to individual shop units for Legal & General Properties Ltd brought the evidence of the tea-room interiors to light once again. 22 Anderson & Murray, architects responsible for the refurbishment, carried out photographic and condition surveys of the interiors. A separate RCAHMS investigation was also conducted. Panelling and stencilling on plaster designed by Walton were carefully removed to the care of Glasgow Museums, while Mackintosh's Dutch Kitchen fireplace was documented then once again covered. 23

A report on the condition of 106–114 Argyle Street was produced as part of the Mackintosh Buildings Survey, led by the Charles Rennie Mackintosh Society and carried out between 2015 and 2016. 24

Notes:

1: In the general directory section 'C. Cranston' was described as a restaurateur. Glasgow Post Office Diretory, 1878–9, p. 159; p. 525.

2: Perilla Kinchin, Miss Cranston: Patron of Charles Rennie Mackintosh, Edinburgh: NMS Publishing, 1999, p. 22; Perilla Kinchin, Tea and Taste: The Glasgow Tea Rooms, 1875–1975, Wendlebury, Oxon: White Cockade, 1991, pp. 36–9.

3: Perilla Kinchin, Miss Cranston, Edinburgh: NMS Publishing, 1999, p. 22; Perilla Kinchin, Tea and Taste: The Glasgow Tea Rooms, 1875–1975, Wendlebury, Oxon: White Cockade, 1991, pp. 36–9.

4: Perilla Kinchin, Miss Cranston: Patron of Charles Rennie Mackintosh, Edinburgh: NMS Publishing, 1999, p. 35.

5: It is not clear whether Kate Cranston or George Walton commissioned Mackintosh to carry out this work. Roger Billcliffe, Charles Rennie Mackintosh: The Complete Furniture, Furniture Drawings and Interior Designs, Moffat, Dumfriesshire: Cameron & Hollis, 4th edn, 2009, p. 39.

6: The work was approved by Glasgow Dean of Guild Court on 23 December 1897. Glasgow City Archives Collection: Glasgow Dean of Guild Court plans, TD1386/06 (originally 1/6116).

7: Elizabeth Williamson, Anne Riches and Malcolm Higgs, Buildings of Scotland: Glasgow, London: Penguin, 1990, p. 171; J. Jeffrey Waddell, 'Some Recent Glasgow Tea-Rooms', Builders' Journal and Architectural Record, 15 April 1903, p. 127; J. Taylor, 'Modern Decorative Art at Glasgow: Some Notes on Miss Cranston's Argyle Street Tea House', Studio, 39, October 1906, p. 33.

8: J. Jeffrey Waddell, 'Some Recent Glasgow Tea-Rooms', Builders' Journal and Architectural Record, 15 April 1903, pp. 127, 131.

9: Glasgow Advertiser & Property Circular, 24 October 1899, p. 2; J. Jeffrey Waddell, 'Some Recent Glasgow Tea-Rooms', Builders' Journal and Architectural Record, 15 April 1903, p. 127.

10: J. Taylor, 'Modern Decorative Art at Glasgow: Some Notes on Miss Cranston's Argyle Street Tea House', Studio, 39, October 1906, p. 33; for Mackintosh's 1898–9 Argyle Street furniture, see Roger Billcliffe, Charles Rennie Mackintosh: The Complete Furniture, Furniture Drawings and Interior Designs, Moffat, Dumfriesshire: Cameron & Hollis, 4th edn, 2009, pp. 55–67.

11: J. Taylor, 'Modern Decorative Art at Glasgow: Some Notes on Miss Cranston's Argyle Street Tea House', Studio, 39, October 1906, pp. 35–6.

12: The Hunterian, University of Glasgow: Honeyman, Keppie & Mackintosh job book, GLAHA 53062, p.100.

13: J. Taylor, 'Modern Decorative Art at Glasgow: Some Notes on Miss Cranston's Argyle Street Tea House', Studio, 39, October 1906, pp. 35–6.

14: Although no stairs to the basement are shown on the 1898 Barclay drawings, a coal chute at the rear of the building and coal store in the basement are indicated. Glasgow City Archives Collection: Glasgow Dean of Guild Court plans, TD1386/06 (originally 1/6116); Glasgow Herald, 18 April 1990, p. 1. A decorative pavement light can be seen directly in front of the bow window at the tea room entrance in J. Jeffrey Waddell, 'Some Recent Glasgow Tea-Rooms', Builders' Journal and Architectural Record, 15 April 1903, p. 131; Perilla Kinchin, Tea and Taste: The Glasgow Tea Rooms, 1875–1975, Wendlebury, Oxon: White Cockade, 1991, p. 113.

15: Hunterian, University of Glasgow: Honeyman, Keppie & Mackintosh job book, GLAHA 53062, p.100.

16: Alan Crawford, Charles Rennie Mackintosh, London: Thames & Hudson, 1995, p. 137.

17: J. Taylor, 'Modern Decorative Art at Glasgow: Some Notes on Miss Cranston's Argyle Street Tea House', Studio, 39, October 1906, p. 36.

18: J. Taylor, 'Modern Decorative Art at Glasgow: Some Notes on Miss Cranston's Argyle Street Tea House', Studio, 39, October 1906, p. 36; Perilla Kinchin, Tea and Taste: The Glasgow Tea Rooms, 1875–1975, Wendlebury, Oxon: White Cockade, 1991, p. 113.

19: J. Taylor, 'Modern Decorative Art at Glasgow: Some Notes on Miss Cranston's Argyle Street Tea House', Studio, 39, October 1906, pp. 35–6.

20: Bailie, 15 May 1918, p. 11; Perilla Kinchin, Miss Cranston: Patron of Charles Rennie Mackintosh, Edinburgh: NMS Publishing, 1999, pp. 82–3.

21: Michael Donnelly, 'Mackintosh's Dutch Kitchen Tea Room 1905–6', Charles Rennie Mackintosh Society Newsletter, 13, Autumn 1976, pp. 9–10.

22: Glasgow Herald, 18 April 1990, p. 1.

23: Glasgow Herald, 18 April 1990, p. 1; Edinburgh, Royal Commission on Ancient and Historic Monuments of Scotland: Anderson and Murray, Condition Survey, 114 Argyll Street (Miss Cranston's Tea Room), typescript and photographs, D.12.41.CRA.P; Edinburgh, Royal Commission on Ancient and Historic Monuments of Scotland: Neil Manson Cameron, 106–114 Argyle Street, Cranston's Tea Rooms, MS 232/St/Gl/18, April 1990.

24: A copy of the report (MBS41) 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.