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Building Surveying Student Intern at Stirling City Heritage Trust

Stirling War Memorial
David, Thom, Declyn, War Memorial

About Me

Hi I’m Declyn. I’m currently a 3rd year student at Glasgow Caledonian University transitioning into my 4th and final year, studying Building Surveying (Finally!). I am a Robertson Trust Scholar, and they put me in contact with SCHT to undergo a summer placement as a building surveying student intern, to help me gain some valuable industry insight. I have enjoyed conservation aspects of my studies and working for an organisation like SCHT, whose objective is to protect and educate on the historic built environment has helped to educated me in the employability in the sector and how fulfilling it is.

Being a scholar at the Robertson Trust opens the doors to working with various likeminded organisations such as SCHT. I joined the for a short four-week summer internship which involved:

  • Working with the tight knit team in an office environment
  • Site visits with the Traditional Buildings Health Check inspectors
  • Drawing up roof plans,
  • Researching website developers to streamline a tendering process for the organisation
  • Aid in the creation of a materials database/catalogue to allow the team to have easily accessible and manageable access to data on the buildings that exist in the Stirling area

 

Site Visits

The two building inspectors (Thom & David) kindly took me to various site inspections where I was spoiled and splurged with knowledge gathered from years of experience from both colleagues. Their personal techniques and nuances have highlighted ways in which I can build a steady foundation for my own surveying career. Site visits I attended include:

  • Traditional Building Inspection
  • Saint Ninians Clock Tower
  • Stirling War Memorial
  • Barnton Street Drinking Fountain
Close-up of the base of the monument with tow men examining the stone
David & Declyn Inspecting War Memorial

 

Traditional Buildings Health Check Inspections

During my studies, we had inspected/surveyed buildings but only for coursework grading, not in a work environment with a real client expecting results and professionalism. So, I had somewhat of an idea on how things would go, but seeing them in action under pressure from a client was really insightful. The inspections consisted of a desk survey (investigating the property and area before arriving on site), a risk assessment, a drone flight plan and the survey itself (a walk round of the property highlighting and photographing all defects). Even though I have undertaken these in my studies, the SCHT team had a more efficient method and took advantage of modern methods of surveying, in particular the use of high spec drones.

 

St Ninians Clock Tower (Old Parish Church)

When on site at St Ninians Clock Tower, which is closed to the public as a safety precaution, we were lucky enough to climb the tower, which very few people have had the chance to do. This was an opportunity to see a building which has been structurally untouched since the 18th century (Thom especially enjoyed this!).

Aerial view looking down at graveyard and stone tower
St Ninians Clock Tower

The tower is classified as an A listed building and is located in a historic graveyard. The church and tower have been mentioned in writings from the 12th century and was used as a gunpowder store in the 1700s which blew up causing damaging to the site and correlates to its current state. Thom took me through a survey of the area which included the tower and part of the remaining, partially destroyed church area. The St Ninians inspection was done on behalf of a potential community project to revitalise the area and educate on hidden historical gems of the local area which sounds like it will be a really interesting venture.

Aerial view looking down at graveyard and stone tower
David, Declyn. Thom Inspecting St Ninians Clock Tower

Stirling War Memorial

I was given free rein to survey the Stirling War Memorial and write up a report. I was advised on site by David & Thom, however, on my own writing the report. Having the freedom to draw from my own knowledge but also needing aid from the inspectors was humbling but also a great learning curve as I had found out even though I am nearing the end of my degree there is still so much learning and experience I need to hone my craft. This report will be used to inform Stirling Council on the condition of the Memorial and any works which are recommended to be carried out.

aerial view of the stone monument
Declyn on-site of War Memorial

Barnton Street Drinking Fountain

On this occasion I was entirely solo for the survey. I did a desk survey; on-site inspection taking photographs and wrote up the report. This report again will be used to inform the council. The fountain was erected in 1887 to commemorate the Jubilee of the reign of Queen Victoria.

Decorative drinking fountain in the street, shops and an old church in the background
Drinking Fountain, Barnton Street

What have I learned?

This internship has shown me an inside glimpse of the conservation sector of the surveying industry. From just being in the office and around the two building inspectors and listening to their discussions and meetings I have been absorbing as much information as I can and learning how to communicate effectively in a team. I have learned the usefulness of modern methods such as using drones to survey a property, which can increase in efficiency. I can definitely say this has been a good experience for me and I can use what I have learned in my further studies and even to help with a possible career path.

Are you interested in anything that has been mentioned above? Historic Environment Scotland has information relating to historic buildings and monuments Home (historicenvironment.scot) and Stirling City Heritage Trust has information relating to Stirling’s historic environment About Us – Stirling City Heritage Trust

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