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Carron Tearoom

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Restored Carron Restaurant, 2011
Restored Carron Restaurant 2011
© Stanley Howe
Restored Carron Restaurant, 2001
Restored Carron Restaurant 2001
© Lloyd Housley

The Carron Restaurant, or Carron Tearoom, can be found on Cameron Street, Stonehaven, and lies to the rear of the Co-operative Society's shop premises on Evan Street, which originally comprised three shops - grocer, baker, and butcher - with the Cameron Street restaurant being accessed via a sunken garden with crazy paving and semi-circular steps surrounded by flowers and rock plants.

Originally opened on June 24, 1937, the Carron re-opened in July 2001, after a £1 million restoration. It was part of the extended and remodelled premises of the Northern Co-operative Society on Evan Street, and an architectural design created by Colonel HS Tawse and Mr Mackie of Messrs Tawse & Allan, together with internal designer Mr Bowman of Messrs Macdonald & Cresswick of Edinburgh. The restoration was due to the vision and determination of local residents and owners, businessman Jack Morrison and partner Jean Rowan.

Requisitioned during World War II, it was not to re-open until 1947, remaining in business until 1968, when it was closed down and abandoned. The building was B listed in 1986.

The Art Deco interior has survived from the period when it provided elegance, serenity, luxury and modernity, together with a hint of the risqué with the mystic nude lady etched onto the large interior mirror, and flanked by mirrored columns topped by concealed lighting. The Art Deco theme followed the popular trend of the time, promoted by Charles Cameron Ballie, who created luxury interiors for cruise ships, and the interior style follows that of a luxury liner. The interior is illuminated by 498 light bulbs, reflected by thousands of tiny glass tiles set within the tall interior columns which support the mirror, and behind a glazed frontage described as a rare example of the finest Art Deco patterned glazing surviving in Scotland by Professor Charles McKean, eminent Scottish architectural historian.

The survival of the glazed interior, complete with its daring (for the time) outline of a nude female figure, is all the more remarkable considering that for many years the tearoom lay forgotten and abandoned, serving only as storage space for the local Co-operative store, of which it forms part of the building.

The building featured in an article written for the Scots Magazine of April 1997, when the writer lamented the decaying state of the structure, its future, and the potential loss forever of an architectural gem - a fate we now know it was not to suffer, with its restoration and opening completed only four years later.

Advert c. 1960s, Admin's collection
Advert c. 1960s

An advert for the Carron was found in a old booklet providing routes to be followed for those touring around Aberdeendshire, and is believed to date from the 1960s.

Notable in the detail of the sketched advert for the restaurant is the presence of a pair of Art Deco lights topping the gateposts, as opposed to the current wrought iron arch and sign over the same entrance following the modern restoration.

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