Intern insight: Delivering Doors Open Day

Gender History Masters student Amanda Gavin interned with the Scottish Civic Trust this summer following the completion of her History undergraduate degree


Working from the historic Tobacco Merchant’s House is any history graduate’s dream and it was certainly mine. When I found out I had been offered an internship with the Scottish Civic Trust I could barely contain my excitement with Martin from the Internship Hub replying ‘I assume by that reaction that you accept’. I did accept and I started in July where the countdown was on to the launch of Doors Open Days 2017.

Having spent the majority of my student years waiting tables the prospect of working in heritage and at a desk (with weekends off!) was almost too good to be true. At first I poured over previous Doors Open Days leaflets, got to grips with the website and vowed to improve my geography. The co-ordinators meeting is where we heard from each region and suddenly such a huge programme of events coming together seemed possible. I heard about Inverclyde’s trial of Cinderella’s wicked stepmother and Edinburgh’s recreation of the medieval city using virtual reality and felt really excited to be a part of Doors Open Days.

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In celebration of SCT’s 50 years for the 50 days leading up to Doors Open Days we opened up nominations for 50 favourite Scottish doors. I had great fun helping to collate the campaign with nominations from people I personally admire; Sir TM Devine, Adele Patrick and a poem from Magi Gibson. Molly and I even got to nominate our own favourite Scottish door which was none other than the door to the Tobacco Merchant’s House.

It was so rewarding to watch all of our hard work come together; seeing the programmes in print, the tweets from visitors exploring buildings and visiting new places. I even got to coordinate a programme including my hometown for East Renfrewshire.

I was lucky enough to attend several events during Doors Open Days this September and to welcome visitors to the Tobacco Merchant’s House where we opened our doors during Glasgow’s week-long festival.

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My highlight was visiting the Cumbernauld Penthouses despite managing to get lost for almost an hour in a shopping centre and attempting to open the doors to the entirely wrong building! It was all worth it in the end when I got to see inside the brutalist penthouses, empty for several years but still retaining all their 1960s charm.

My time with SCT has given me an invaluable insight into working in heritage and what it takes to coordinate and advertise a national programme of events. I started with a great interest in Scotland’s built heritage that has only been strengthened. Armed with my ‘How to Read Buildings’ book, gifted to me on my leaving my internship, I can now sound like an expert when I look up at pretty buildings.

I am now working towards my MSc in History and look forward to exploring more buildings next September – in between writing my dissertation!


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