IN A city known for its grand tearooms and fabulous bakeries, Craig’s was a cut above.

Owned by businessman and art lover James Craig, there were at one point around 20 across the city, including this one on Gordon Street, captured by our photographers in April 1955.

Known as Craig’s Tearoom, or Craig’s Restaurant, also the Gordon, it was a sumptuous bolthole for businessmen and ladies who lunched, like its sister restaurant The Ruhl on Sauchiehall Street.

Times Past reader Ian Hutcheson describes Craig’s as like “a gallery in the Louvre, kitted out with lunch tables.”

He adds: “An extensive high-ceilinged salon, the walls hung with large, gilt-framed pictures overlooking rows of pristine white table cloths displaying their fare on tiered cake stands, provided a dramatic setting even if all you were having was a bun and a cup of tea.”

Ian recalls having “Russian tea”, served in a glass with a slice of lemon floating on top,.

“There was no need to use your bare hand to raise the hot glass to your lips as the glass was set in a shiny, elaborate metal glass holder.,” he says. “Along with that came a metal plunger which I loved to use to submerge the lemon and press it against the bottom of the glass, releasing the juice to infuse the tea; then came the moment when I was ready to take a sip of the curious blend of tea and lemon…”

Glasgow Times: Craig's Restaurant, or Tearoom, on Gordon Street, 1955. Picture: Herald and Times GroupCraig's Restaurant, or Tearoom, on Gordon Street, 1955. Picture: Herald and Times Group

Ian recalls a visit to the baker’s shop - City Bakeries, Walter Hubbard, Alexander Colquhoun, among others, and dairies like Ross’s and Sloan’s - was a real treat when he was growing up in Glasgow in the 40s and 50s.

“What first drew me in was the taste of a Paris bun,” he says. “This was a circular mound with a scone-like texture and crunchy nibs of sugar decorating the summit – just mouth-watering. That treat led me on to other delights - London Buns, Chelsea Buns and Bath Buns - but why were all these buns from somewhere else?

“I suppose it was an early introduction to Geography, which got an extra boost when I discovered French Cakes. These were individual sponge cakes, with a raised button shape on top, covered with soft icing. Bite into that and you got the sweet, lip-smacking surprise of a small dollop of cream.”

James Craig established his bakery business in 1870. His tearooms were much grander than the name suggests, with shops and luncheon, smoking and function rooms. In 1936, they employed around 1100 people and were ‘’known for never having had an industrial dispute.’’

In her book Tea and Taste: The Glasgow Tea Rooms, 1875-1975, Perilla Kinchin says The Rhul, which opened in 1927 and The Gordon, which opened in 1933, were the company’s showpieces and became known as the city’s ‘unofficial Art Galleries’ due to the quality and quantity of Craig’s renowned Glasgow Boys art collection which hung on the walls.

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Artists used to hold exhibitions downstairs in Craig’s in the hope that diners might buy a painting or two.

Large tearooms struggled to survive after the Second World War and the Gordon closed in 1955 with the Rhul following in May 1957.

*Do you remember Craig’s Tearooms, The Gordon and The Rhul? Share your stories and photos with us here at Times Past.