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Work begins on £10m Mackintosh Willow Tea Rooms revamp

Work is beginning on a £10m project to restore and preserve one of Glasgow’s most famous buildings – the Charles Rennie Mackintosh Willow Tea Rooms. The building, in Sauchiehall Street, was bought by the Willow Tea Rooms Trust in 2014 with the aim of restoring the site to its former glory.

The Willow Tea Rooms inside was a separate business and had to relocate.

The Trust hopes to re-open the building to coincide with the 150th anniversary of Mackintosh’s birth on 7 June 2018.

Catherine Cranston – a leading figure in the development of tea rooms – set up the The Willow Tea Rooms in 1903.

The aim is to allow the public to once again drink tea and dine in the Mackintosh interior. There will also be an exhibition and learning facility focused on the architecture, design and artwork of Mackintosh, and the business, social history and success of Miss Cranston.

Chairwoman of the trust, Celia Sinclair said:

“The Willow Tea Rooms will be the only Mackintosh building where members of the public can still enjoy and participate in the buildings’ original use.”

Prof Pamela Robertson, of the University of Glasgow said:

“The Willow Tea Rooms are of outstanding importance in Mackintosh’s career as one of his most accomplished interiors, where he had input as an architect and designer. The building will provide a unique experience for visitors telling the rich story of Glasgow’s rise as an economic powerhouse at the turn of the last century.”

Simpson and Brown were appointed as lead design consultants to restore the Willow Tea Rooms.

The Trust has been supported by The Heritage Lottery Fund, Historic Environment Scotland, Glasgow City Heritage Trust, Glasgow City, Glasgow Life, the Dunard Fund, Mann Foundation, the Robertson Trust, Lyon & Turnbull, the JTH Heritable Trust and Unity Bank.

The revenue generated by the Tea Rooms, which will be run as a social enterprise, will help fund the education and learning centre.