A Glasgow entrepreneur has become the first woman, other than the Queen, to feature on a Scottish £20 note.

Kate Cranston, who was behind the city's iconic tearooms, features on the Royal Bank of Scotland's new polymer note.

Born in 1849, Ms Cranston was a leading figure in the development of tearooms.

The daughter of a baker, she established the Crown Luncheon Room on Glasgow’s Argyle Street in 1878.

Placing emphasis on design and decor, as well as quality food, she set up the Miss Cranston’s Tearooms venture and opened a number of outlets, including the famous Willow Tea Rooms on Sauchiehall Street.

The tearooms became an important hub for women to socialise in the city, and also showcased the design work of Charles Rennie Mackintosh.

After her death in 1934, two thirds of Cranston’s estate went to the poor of Glasgow.


(Photo: Robert Perry)

Now, 84 years on, the RBS Scottish Board have chosen her to be the new face of the bank’s £20 notes.

The plastic note was designed in partnership with a number of Scottish arts organisations and designers, including Graven Images, Nile, Stucco, Timrous Beasties, O’Street and the Glasgow School of Art.

Speaking at the launch, RBS' Scottish board chair, Malcolm Buchanan, said: “At Royal Bank of Scotland, we feel that a banknote’s value is more than just the figure printed across its front – it is our symbol which lives in people’s pockets and touches everyday lives.

“Kate Cranston’s legacy touches so many aspects of Scottish life that we, as a nation, are justifiably proud; entrepreneurialism, art, philanthropy and dedication.

“Choosing the design of the £20 note was an important decision for it is Royal Bank of Scotland’s biggest circulating note, with £736m currently in circulation.

“As such, it is fitting that such a figure as Kate Cranston will be celebrated on the face of our most popular note.”

Celia Sinclair, chair of the Willow Tea Room Trust, added: “We are delighted that the image of Kate Cranston is on the Royal Bank of Scotland £20 note. She was a very interesting and intelligent woman, an excellent businesswoman who changed attitudes.

“The Salon de Luxe, the centrepiece of Mackintosh at the Willow, was a symbol of social change in Glasgow where women began to socialise outside the home.”