Stunning vintage pictures inside some of Glasgow’s most famous buildings

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<p><figcaption class=The Glasgow firm that designed the city’s most famous buildings (Image: Glasgow City Archives)

WHAT do Green’s Playhouse, La Scala on Sauchiehall Street, and the Argentinian church have in common?

These three buildings all have beautiful interiors made by one of the city’s most respected companies – which also produce famous pieces Glasgow Charles Rennie’s student Raincoat.

Guthrie & Wells, which sadly closed in 2005, has long been known as a respected design and decoration business associated with beautiful stained glass windows and extraordinary interiors.

Glasgow Times: St Mungo's stained glass window

Glasgow Times: St Mungo’s stained glass window

St Mungo’s stained glass windows (Image: Glasgow City Archives)

The company also commissions furniture and designs all aspects of the interior such as carpets, flooring, fabrics and paint.

The collection from the company housed in the City Archives includes a wide variety of drawings, from rough pencil sketches to detailed painting plans for sculptures, stained glass, furniture, and even entire rooms for churches, theatres, businesses, and private homes.

Glasgow Times: Green's Playhouse, then The Apollo

Glasgow Times: Green’s Playhouse, then The Apollo

Green’s Playhouse, then The Apollo (Image: Newsquest)

Several plans proposed alterations or improvements, and there were different influences such as Art Deco, Art Nouveau and Glasgow Style.

READ MORE: The amazing history of a famous Glasgow pub that was once a luxury supermarket

In addition to Green’s and La Scala Cinema, the firm is responsible for the design of the Royal Scottish Automobile Club in Blythswood Square, Shawlands Cross Church and Mount Florida United Free Church, as well as other buildings throughout Scotland.

The company dates back to 1852 when John Guthrie Senior, a master house painter from Perthshire, founded a painting and decorating company.

His sons, John and William Guthrie, trained at the Glasgow School of Art in the 1870s, before taking over their retired father’s business, now based in Glasgow.

Under the name J&W Guthrie, they primarily turned to the design and manufacture of stained glass.

READ MORE: Glasgow Archives reveal what’s hidden in the city’s hospital foundation

Simultaneously with the Glasgow branch, the brothers opened another branch and showroom in London in the 1880s. While living in London overseeing business there, in 1888 John became a founding member of the Guild of Artworkers. That same year J & W Guthrie was exhibited at the successful Glasgow International Exhibition, which resulted in contracts for work at the Glasgow Trades House, the Royal Clyde Yacht Clubhouse in Dunoon, and even a church in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

In 1897 William took over the company, as his brother John became director of the applied and technical design studio at the Glasgow School of Art, teaching techniques in mosaics, enamels and more.

The brothers kept in touch with the Glasgow School of Art, hiring students as designers (as was Glasgow boy painter James Guthrie – no relation) and funding prizes. Later, the company came up with designs by another famous former student, Charles Rennie Mackintosh.

Glasgow Times: Charles Rennie Mackintosh

Glasgow Times: Charles Rennie Mackintosh

Charles Rennie Mackintosh (Image: Newsquest)

Andrew Wells was soon brought in as a partner creating J & W Guthrie & Andrew Wells Ltd in 1898 (it was not until the 1960s that the name was shortened to Guthrie & Wells).

She had started her career at the young age of 15 as a japanner (lacquer worker) before working with influential Glasgow-born artist Daniel Cottier.

Glasgow Time:

Glasgow Time:

Andrew emigrated to Australia where he worked for Lyon, Cottier and Co, the Sydney-based decorative interiors firm Cottier founded a decade ago, before returning to Glasgow.

Although the London branch closed in 1903, the firm thrived in Glasgow with a standing commission for work.

The business was then run by designers John A Christie and Charles Paine. While most of the designs in our archive are from a later period than the Guthrie brothers and Andrew Wells, their influence is still evident. The reputation they helped build for the company endured through the years.

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