Mackintosh tea rooms future secured by National Trust for Scotland

Mackintosh at The Willow on Sauchiehall Street has been bought over by National Trust for Scotland.
The Willow Tea Rooms on Glasgow's Sauchiehall Street has been bought over by National Trust for Scotland. PIC: Gibson Digital / National Trust for Scotland  2023.The Willow Tea Rooms on Glasgow's Sauchiehall Street has been bought over by National Trust for Scotland. PIC: Gibson Digital / National Trust for Scotland  2023.
The Willow Tea Rooms on Glasgow's Sauchiehall Street has been bought over by National Trust for Scotland. PIC: Gibson Digital / National Trust for Scotland 2023.

The future of the historic tea rooms has been secured in the move that came at the invitation of the conservation charity that restored the building between 2014 and 2018. Mackintosh at the Willow dates back to 1903 and was purchased, saved and restored by Celia Sinclair Thornqvist MBE and The Willow Tea Rooms Trust. Its future operations had been threatened by "difficult trading conditions". The National Trust for Scotland will add the tea rooms to its portfolio of properties which include Mackintosh's Hill House in Helensburgh.

It said it was using £1.75m of its reserves and acquisition funds to address the immediate financial challenges and keep the business trading. The original tea rooms were designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh and his wife Margaret Macdonald, reopening as a cafe and small museum after a major restoration project.

Phil Long OBE, the National Trust for Scotland’s chief executive, said: “Mackintosh is one of the greatest architects of the 20th-century, respected internationally for his breathtaking and innovative design.

"People from around the world travel to Scotland to see his and his wife Margaret Macdonald’s brilliant work together. As the custodians of one of Mackintosh’s other rare masterpieces, the Hill House (on which Macdonald also collaborated), we see the acquisition of Mackintosh at the Willow as a perfect fit."

"The brilliant restoration by The Willow Tea Rooms Trust with the support of The National Lottery Heritage Fund and many others gifted back to the nation an exceptional example of architectural heritage that we are proud to bring into our care. 

“Despite difficulties that were outwith the control of The Willow Tea Rooms Trustees and the management team, the work they have done with their staff in welcoming visitors, running community learning and outreach and in providing an exceptional heritage experience is exemplary – and we are certain we can build on their achievements to ensure the long-term sustainability and survival of this wonderful place on behalf of Glasgow and Scotland.

“I want to pay tribute to the foresight of our own board members for their support of our partnership with The Willow Tea Rooms Trustees, which has averted the risk of potential closure and safeguarded this vitally important place for the future.

"And also to our members and supporters whose generosity over the years has given us the financial means to acquire, secure and protect Mackintosh at the Willow alongside all of the other historic and natural treasures we care for on behalf of the people of Scotland."