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Cranston’s Tea Rooms and Scottish Motor Traction Co. ads in Motoring in Scotland, vol. 11

Photo(s) by mikeyashworth. Imported from Flickr on Mar 18, 2023. Artwork published in
circa 1914
Cranston’s Tea Rooms and Scottish Motor Traction Co. ads in Motoring in Scotland, vol. 11 1
Source: Uploaded to Flickr by mikeyashworth and tagged with “windsor”. License: All Rights Reserved.

In the years before the outbreak of World War 1 “motoring” started to be one of the popular pastimes of the ‘well-off’ and upper classes. This can be seen in this series of motoring guides produced by the Cheltenham based publishers E J Burrow & Co Ltd in conjunction with the Royal Automobile Club and this, the Scottish volume, in connection with the Scottish Motoring Club. The various volumes give details of routes and destinations, including maps, and are peppered with adverts for motoring services to be found on the way – important then in the early days of motoring when to be able to find a mechanic or petrol supplies was vital – as well as for hotels and for ‘goods’ useful for motorists; these include accessories and clothing suitable for motoring. The guides are written by Charles G Harper who was a well known travel writer.

E J Burrow’s became a prolific publisher of guides and handbooks, often “official” in that they were produced in conjuction with local authorities or organisations. This is interesting in that it notes amongst their addresses Bradford as the fact their London Agent was Percy Lund, Humphries & Co Ltd. I suspect this small format book may have been printed at Lund Humphries ‘County Press’ and had not previously been aware of some link between the two companies.

In the ad shown above, Windsor Condensed is set on a curve, with the initial letter inserted from regular-wide Windsor. Other typefaces used include Cheltenham (sold by Caslon as Cheltenham Old Style), Jenson Old Style (sold by Stephenson Blake as Italian Old Style), and a bold Grotesque.

Can there be any more iconic name in connection with Glasgow’s Tea Rooms than that of Cranston’s? It even gets a mention in the 1938 GPO documentary Night Mail. This advert however relates not to Miss Catherine – or Kate – Cranston whose Tea Rooms designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh are the stuff of legend, but the chain founded and owned by her brother Stuart Cranston. Both siblings followed their father’s footsteps into the business of tea and tea rooms. Stuart died in 1921, his sister despite having given her tea rooms up in 1918, outliving him until she died in 1934 leaving a substantial estate to ‘the poor of Glasgow’.

The ad shown below likewise uses Windsor, complemented by De Vinne, also in two widths, and an Old Style.

The Scottish Motor Traction Co Ltd, better recalled as ‘the SMT’, was formed in 1905 and although it was around early motor cars that the business was based, they soon began to operate motor buses. Thanks to railway investment in the late 1920s, the company became the dominant force in the Scottish bus industry, owning other concerns notably W Alexander’s. Nationalised in 1948, and forming the basis of the later Scottish Bus Group. The non-bus and coach interests that I think had been formed into a separate subsidiary as SMT Sales & Service Ltd., selling and repairing motor cars, before WW1, was retained in private ownership and continued in existance until 1991.

These premises in Fountainbridge, Edinburgh, were suitably aimed at the sort of clientele who could afford motoring in pre-WW1 days with Ladies and Gentlemens lounges – as well as skilled engineers and 24-hour service.

Cranston’s Tea Rooms and Scottish Motor Traction Co. ads in Motoring in Scotland, vol. 11 2
Source: Uploaded to Flickr by mikeyashworth. License: All Rights Reserved.

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