James Carruthers, plans dated 1925, opened as the Rhul tea room 1927. 4-storey 5-bay streamlined classical former tearoom with impressive interior to upper floors. Polished pale sandstone ashlar with metal panels with wreath motif dividing upper stories. Simple giant pilasters divide bays. Consoled dentilled eaves cornice and blocking course. Ground floor altered. Red brick to rear. Original large tripartite style metal casement windows with stained glass margins to 2nd and 3rd floors.
INTERIOR: ground and 1st floors altered with modern shop interior. Near-intact tearoom scheme to 2nd and 3rd floors with quality timberwork and outstanding classical and rococo-style plasterwork. Chimneypieces and some dado panelling removed. Original lift in situ. Elegant wide staircase with marble dado and black and white marble landings; Bronze lattice baluster.
Impressive near full-width former luncheon and smoking rooms to 2nd and 3rd floors with plaster rococo panels to walls, timber pilasters and architraves.
Statement of Special Interest
A good example of one of Glasgow's famous tea rooms. A strong streetscape composition employing the then fashionable elements of bronze panels and giant pilasters with an exceptional surviving interior to the upper floors.
High standards of catering and décor were the distinguishing features of Glasgow's renowned tea rooms. Tea rooms proliferated in the city from the late 19th century until the 1950s. Initially conceived to cater for businessmen, they later came to accommodate ladies as well. Although the artistic tearoom was most famously exploited by Miss Cranston, the Rhul in Sauchiehall Street endeavoured to continue this tradition with its picture collection hung within the plasterwork panels.
Commissioned by James Craig, of the eponymous large Glasgow bakery business established in 1870. The term 'tearoom' should not diminish what was a luxurious and grand establishment with a shop, tearooms, luncheon, smoking and function rooms. Craig traded on their high standards and top quality baking. In the 1920s they had around 20 branches in the city, with the 'Rhul' and the 'Gordon' on Gordon Street (see separate listing, opened 1933) serving as their famous showpieces. The Rhul opened in 1927. Kinchin notes that the Rhul and the Gordon were known as 'the unofficial Art Galleries of Glasgow' (p140) due to the quality and quantity of Craig's renowned 'Glasgow Boys' art collection which hung on the walls. Large tearooms struggled to survive after the Second World War and the Gordon closed in 1955 with the Rhul following in May 1957. Kinchin writes that there was a complete disappearance of the 'James Craig' name, once synonymous with tearooms of quality and refinement, by 1970 (p171).
Carruthers appears to have specialised in restaturant work and was also commissioned to design the 'Gordon'. He continued to use giant pilasters and bronze panels at the Gordon but by this time (early 1930s) the detailing is noticeably Art Deco in style, whereas the 'Rhul' is monumental streamlined classical. Kinchin argues that the Rhul and the Gordon 'count among the best things built in Glasgow in these stagnant years' (p140).
Two sets of drawings were produced in 1925 for the site which had an existing Craig tearoom. The first set show a 3-storey building, with the later set showing the building as the 4-storeys which were constructed. It is possible that the modern shop fittings to the ground and first floors obscure further evidence of the original decorative scheme.