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article imageFamous Glasgow landmark may be forced to close

By Amanda Payne     Mar 15, 2013 in Entertainment
Glasgow - The Willow Tea Rooms in Glasgow's Sauchiehall Street which were designed by famous Glasgow architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh may be forced to close.
The tea rooms, which opened in 1904 and are sited in a Grade A listed building are now run by Anne Mulhern. She has operated the business since 1983 and has been shocked to learn that the landlord is planning on closing down the entire building in which the tea rooms are sited as it is in urgent need of repair.
Ms Mulhern is hoping that she may be able to secure a short term lease on the building but if unsuccessful, she will be forced to close the business, which is a huge tourist attraction in Glasgow with at least 150,000 visitors per year and is a fine example of the work of arguably Scotland's most famous architect and artist.
The Herald newspaper quotes Ms Mulhern as saying she is launching a campaign to try and buy and restore the building, which is currently owned by a pension fund. She said: "We have just said that any help that people can give us would be appreciated – and it doesn't even need to be money, it can just be help.We just want to get a fair price for them and also for us so I can start restoring the building.We are looking at around £700,000, including the renovations, which is horrifying in the current climate."
The Glasgow Evening Times says that senior city councillors are meeting to discuss the situation. One councillor, Liz Cameron said:"I am keenly aware of the importance of our built heritage.As we do not own the property, there is a limit on what we can do, especially in the challenging financial climate.However, we will offer what support or advice we can, such as referring the owner to any historic building property grants, or other appropriate assistance."
The exterior of the team rooms  situated above a jewellers  shop
The exterior of the team rooms, situated above a jewellers' shop
Dave Souza
The tea rooms (there is another one in Glasgow's Buchanan Street and originally there were four) were created by Charles Rennie Mackintosh for his patroness, Kate Cranston. He worked with her to design or restyle the rooms in her tea establishments. At first, he just created some wall murals but as time progressed, he became more involved in the layout and design of the four tea rooms.For the Sauchiehall Street tea rooms, he was allowed free rein, designing not only the interior fixtures and fittings but also the exterior. When it originally opened, the Willow Tea Rooms covered five floors. The piéce de resistance is the 'Room de Luxe' with beautiful silver furniture and leaded mirror friezes that show off Mackintosh's individual style to perfection.
The name for the tea rooms comes from Sauchiehall which is Scots Gaelic for 'alley of willows' and there is a willow theme throughout the building.
The  Room de Luxe  as it is today
The 'Room de Luxe' as it is today
Dave Souza
Charles Rennie Mackintosh was born in Glasgow in 1868 and was originally apprenticed to a local architect. He attended evening classes at the Glasgow School of Art. He won an award that allowed him to travel to Italy in 1890 and on his return began to introduce modern influences to his work, developing his own, instantly recognisable style. There are a number of Mackintosh buildings and designs still on show in Glasgow, not least his redesign of the Glasgow School of Art. The First World War put an untimely end to his architectural work and he moved to the south of France where he spent his time painting. He died in London in 1928.
It is to be hoped that art lovers will come forward and help Ms Mulhern to save a unique piece of Glasgow's architectural history and the Willow Tea Rooms will continue to delight visitors for many years to come.
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