THEY were restored to the specifications of Charles Rennie Mackintosh himself and remain one of the most complete examples of his work still standing.

Now the astonishing craftwork which went into restoring Glasgow’s Willow Tea Rooms has been recognised with a top award from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.

Saved from being lost forever five years ago, the tea rooms have been refurbished to appear exactly as they did when they opened in 1903 right down to the glass baubles in the chandeliers.

And this eye for detail caught the attention of judges who have bestowed upon it the title of Project of the Year, Scotland in the RICS annual award Building Conservation category.

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Mackintosh’s remodelled the exterior of the 1860s tenement block and oversaw the interior decorative elements, including such features as its iconic straight-backed chairs, stained-glass panels and the vast sculptural relief by Mackintosh’s wife, the artist Margaret Macdonald.

But although cherished by modern-day audiences, Mackintosh’s style wasn’t wholly appreciated in his time and went out of fashion – leading to the decline and slow decay of the Willow Tea rooms lavish interiors.

Various attempts were made over the years to preserve or restore the building, but as the years went by much was lost, including the plaster facade which did so much make the building stand out from its neighbour tenements.

Then in 2014 it seemed the lights would go out forever with the building the subject of a forced sale –meaning the remaining collection could be broken up and sold to collectors and the suite of rooms repurposed into something else.

But it was saved at the 11th-hour by Glasgow businesswoman Celia Sinclair, who purchased the tea rooms and set about raising £10 million to bring them back to their former glory.

The restoration of the Willow tea rooms triumphed over 35 of the country’s most inspiring property projects to win the RICS award.

Of the project, judges said that incredible care was taken to preserve original features and to faithfully recreate original furniture and fitments through detailed research and use of local artisans and craftsmen.

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Chairman of the judging panel for the RICS Awards, Scotland, Colin Smith MRICS, said: “Great care and attention to detail was taken during this restoration. Additionally, a Trust was established to manage the building and the £10million used to restore it internally and externally has also been utilised to provide wider long-term community benefits.”

Hosted by Catriona Sheerer, the RICS Awards 2019, Scotland took place at The Sheraton Grand Hotel & Spa in Edinburgh yesterday.

Other winners included The Garment Factory, Glasgow, which took the Commercial title, the V&A, Dundee, which won the Tourism & Leisure category and the transformation of the Music Hall, Aberdeen, for Community Benefit.

Winners will go on to compete against other regions at the national RICS Awards Grand Final on Friday Ocotber 4 to be crowned the overall UK winner in their respective category.