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Lottery boost for revamp of Mackintosh’s Willow Tea Rooms

The project to revitalise one of Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s most well known creations has received a major boost from the Lottery.

The Willow Tea Rooms Trust, which wants to re-invigorate the tea rooms designed by the architect and artist in Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow, has received a crucial ‘first round pass’ towards a grant of £3.7m from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

The HLF gives a green light in this fashion when it has endorsed proposals and earmarked funding for future major projects. It has now given a grant of £250,000 to enable the Trust to develop plans and apply for the full grant at a later date.

The Willow Tea Rooms were designed and built in 1903 for Kate Cranston by Mackintosh. However the building has long been dilapidated and the Trust says the tea rooms “were in danger of being lost as a result of the decline in the fabric of the building.”

The Trust has already secured other funds, including £250,000 of grant funding from Glasgow City Council, £200,000 from Glasgow City Heritage Trust, £175,000 from Dunard Fund and £10,000 from The Architectural Heritage Fund.

Work is already started on the exterior of the building, to return them to their 1903 state, but to fully restore the building will cost £6.8 million.

The Tea Rooms building is currently closed.

Celia Sinclair, founder and chair of the Trust, said:

“We are extremely pleased that The Heritage Lottery Fund agrees that saving The Willow Tea Rooms is important, and is willing to help us achieve our aim of creating a proper legacy for the generations to come.

“The Willow Tea Rooms is an iconic building and we need to act to safeguard what remains of Mackintosh’s work. “Above all, we intend that this project will be sustainable and have a legacy.”

“The Trust will ensure that after the renovation work the building will be financially secure and that due care and attention will be given to the building forever.”

Lucy Casot, Heritage Lottery Fund’s head in Scotland, said:

“What better way to celebrate the Year of Architecture than devising a plan to save the famous Tea Rooms by one of Scotland’s greatest and most influential designers who is admired around the world.

“Thanks to players of the National Lottery, we are delighted to give our initial support to a project which will rejuvenate and restore the Willow Tea Rooms so that their unique ambiance and design can be enjoyed as it was first intended.”

Planning permission for the renovation and development of the Tea Rooms along with a new Mackintosh Exhibition and Education Centre in the adjacent building has been granted by Glasgow City Council.

Ms Sinclair added:

“We will create something special in Sauchiehall Street. A centre piece of the celebrations in June 2018 marking the 150th anniversary of Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s birth.

“The challenge will be to raise the rest of the capital required.”