Our current intern sums up!

Hannah and her fellow UCLan students visiting Southport.
Sunburst window in Leo's Bar.
Disney windows at the Grand.

Hello! I’m Hannah, the current Historic Environment Intern with Sefton Council. I’ve now nearly finished my internship and the time has flown by – it feels like only the other day that I was the ‘new girl’ in the Conservation Team. As I write this, Sefton is appointing the new intern to take up the role for the next year of the Southport Townscape Heritage Project, and I am taking the time to reflect on my experiences so far as my internship is coming to an end.

Before I started my internship I had been working as a Business Officer at Historic England and completed a BSc degree in Historic Building Conservation. When I saw the advertisement for the 2022-23 Sefton internship role I immediately applied and was lucky enough to be chosen. This role was uniquely interesting to me as it provided the opportunity to train on the job and had the added benefits of being able to get involved with the Southport Townscape Heritage Project and to complete an MSc in Building Conservation and Adaptation at the University of Central Lancashire.

When I started in September 2022 the previous intern, Alice, had just finished. Having been the first intern of the project, she had blazed a brilliant trail for me and had shown the benefits of the internship both to the interns and to the Conservation team and the Townscape Heritage Project. The whole Conservation and Townscape Heritage team were really welcoming and helped me settle in and learn the ropes very quickly, and I was able to get stuck in with the work straight away.

I relocated from Hertfordshire and had never been to Southport before, but when I visited I was really impressed with its beautiful built heritage such as the sweeping landscaped vistas and Victorian verandas of Lord Street, the ‘village’ of Churchtown with its thatched buildings and the Art Deco grandeur of the Garrick and Grand theatres. As part of the internship I went to site meetings for the Townscape Heritage Project in Southport which has opened my eyes to the issues that Southport faces and helped me to understand how a THP works in practice. Some stand-out memories include site visits to the Art Deco Garrick and Grand Casino buildings, both former theatres/cinemas, which not only are crammed full of stunning original features (especially the Disney windows at the Grand!) but are undergoing interesting repair and restoration projects. I have also enjoyed seeing the plans for the restoration of the beautiful Leo’s Bar building develop over the course of my internship and really look forward to popping back for a future visit to see how it looks when it’s restored to its former glory!

As part of my internship I have been involved in different projects which have increased my knowledge and skills. I took part in some Historic Buildings at Risk surveying which involves assessing Sefton’s listed buildings for their condition to identify whether they are at risk, which helped me learn to assess potential issues and to understand the challenges of dealing with buildings at risk.

I also wrote a draft conservation area appraisal and assisted with the completion of two others, which although a new skill for me and a challenge at times was a very interesting and useful experience. Although I won’t be here for the final consultation process, I am pleased to have contributed to this important piece of work.

I’ve also enjoyed accompanying my colleagues on site visits throughout the year where I’ve seen so many beautiful buildings and interesting projects. Being able to watch experienced heritage professionals at work has taught me so much and helped me better understand how this kind of job works, and that on-the-job training was exactly what I wanted from the internship.

As part of my internship I’ve also been completing the MSc at UCLAN. The opportunity to complete a Master’s degree was hugely exciting to me and big part of why I applied for the internship. We have been on site visits nearly every week that ranged from visiting heritage regeneration schemes in places like Stockport and Fleetwood, looking at building repairs at Grade I Astley Hall, to learning about quinquennial inspections from the church architect at Blackburn Cathedral and everything in between. I can’t speak highly enough of the MSc course director and the team at UCLAN who have been fantastic, supported me all the way through and made things as fun, interesting and easy as possible.

My time as the Historic Environment intern at Sefton has been everything I had hoped for and more. I have done and seen so many different things and no one day was ever the same. I’ve gained a huge amount of knowledge and experience that I didn’t have before which is vital for moving forward in my career in heritage, and the fact that I already have a job lined up for when I finish my role here speaks highly of how successful the internship has been. Thanks to the National Lottery Heritage Fund and Sefton Council I’ve really had the opportunity of a lifetime and I will be making the most of it up until my very last day!

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