Hidden away in the upper section of Cottiers Theatre, sits a golden gilded (literally) gem of a restaurant. Named after the Glaswegian architect, William Leiper FRIBA RSA (1839-1916), the eatery not only is a feast for the eyes and belly but subtly celebrates Leiper’s relationship with the buildings name-sake Daniel Cottier (1838–1891).
The new restaurant, which showcases a fine section of Scotland’s larder, provides a lovely glowing atmosphere with the light dancing off the gilded ceiling and an intimate dining experience. If you’d like to have a look at the menu, just click here. Also, FEAR NOT veggies – on the menu is a wonderful goats cheese, smoked beetroot, Israeli cous cous, peach and watercress starter and herb and truffle oil gnocchi, white onion, pickled mushrooms, kale, artichokes which we can highly recommended.
So the food, atmosphere and service are all top-notch, but why are WE interested in this eatery? Well, it’s all about Glasgow’s dynamic duo (we like a dynamic duo) – William Leiper and Daniel Cottier. William Leiper, who one could argue is under-celebrated in Glasgow, is the brains behind such buildings as the great Templeton’s Carpet Factory, which sits on Glasgow Green; the Sun Life Insurance Office on West George Street; Cairndhu in Helensburgh and of course, Dowanhill built in 1865 – now Cottiers Theatre.
Cottier, who created a certain artistic persona – today, we would probably call it hipster-chic but at the time was strongly fashioned on the romantic image of the Pre-Raphaelite artists like Dante Gabriel Rossetti – was a creative dynamo designing a range of decorative pieces including stained glass, painted decoration and ceramic tiles.
Both Cottier and Leiper moved in the same artistic circles in Glasgow and had similar artistic views – both saw themselves as ‘artworkers’ in the broadest sense and their collaboration on Dowanhill rejected the ‘conventional hierarchical relationship between architect and tradesman.’ Dowanhill was not their only success. Leiper and Cottier worked together on several other projects including The Elms, Arbroath and Cairndhu House, Helensburgh. If you’d like to find out more about their work and the restoration of Dowanhill you can purchase Cottiers in Context at the venue. It’s a great in-depth look into, not only the buildings design history, but also provides a comprehensive overview of the social interactions of the church.
The restaurant pays a very subtle homage to the pair’s friendship with little cards placed on the tables. You should also note the chair coverings, which have been reprinted by The Glasgow School of Art in Cottier’s painted interior wall designs. The cards, which have very dapper photographs of the pair, give brief biographical info about them and a very concise overview of their relationship. If you’re a history geek like us, or just simply love good food Leiper’s Attic is certainly the place for you!
If you’d like to find out more about Cottiers, or the work undertaken by Four Acres Charitable Trust please click here.
 Juliet Kinchin, Hilary Macartney, and David Robertson, Cottier’s in Context: Daniel Cottier, William Leiper and Dowanhill Church, Glasgow, Case Study 3 (Edinburgh: Historic Scotland, 2011). pp. 29
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Great story and the restaurant sounds fantastic.
William Leiper also designed Partick Burgh Halls. The Mitchell Library has the Partick Police committee minute books which describe their consultations with him in detail, interesting for anyone researching the architect.
The committee met Leiper at the station and showed him the site, as worked progressed they pressed him to modify the ambitious scheme to reduce cost, and had other discussions. When the building was finished Leiper recommended decorating the hall with a temporary ephemeral stencil pattern while the plaster slowly dried. (One of Cottier’s painter’s James Anderson painted this stencil, which lies under many layers of later paint.)
So the minute books in the Mitchell give a very full picture of an architect working with a committee to see a project through from start to finish. I’m very grateful to the Mitchell librarian who produced these books in minutes after I asked for material on the Burgh Halls.