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30 Apr 2021

A day in the life of a ... Visitor Services Supervisor

Written by Taylah Egbers, Visitor Services Supervisor at the Hill House
A close-up of a smiling young woman standing on a metal walkway, a little bit like scaffolding. She wears a navy jacket with the National Trust for Scotland logo on it. She has mid-length fair hair.
Taylah Egbers at the Hill House
In this series, we join colleagues from across the Trust for a behind-the-scenes glance at the important role they play in caring for our special places.

Working at the Hill House is both an honour and a joy. The team at the Hill House are a fantastic blend of staff and volunteers. Without their knowledge and experience, the site just wouldn’t be the same!

At the Hill House I manage 4 team members and over 50 volunteers. I also work in the visitor centre, helping in our shop and occasionally making coffees/waiting on tables in the café when needed! I assist with planning and running events, leading private tours, presenting daily talks and managing group visits for the site.

The Hill House is currently undergoing a pioneering conservation programme, with the first stage having seen the construction of the Hill House Box: a protective steel frame structure covered in a chainmail mesh, designed to protect the house from the rain. This Box will allow the walls to dry out and prevent further damage to the house. Being part of such an amazing programme makes my work life very exciting.

Find out more about the Hill House Box

A view of the large mesh/scaffolding structure that completely surround the Hill House building, seen from inside looking out. Small individual trees are planted in concrete cube pots around the outside.
This is an Instagram image I took for the Hill House page.

Arriving on site, I always head straight into the house. Being the first person inside the house is a special moment, giving me a chance to reflect and take in the beauty while I undertake my daily checks. In the house, I move from room to room, inspecting the walls and collection. The Hill House Box has allowed the slow drying process of the walls to begin, after years of them being constantly damp. It rains in Helensburgh for an average of 192 days a year, which has had severe effects on the interiors of the house. Daily inspections are a great way to monitor the effects of the drying process, with these effects being anything from plaster cracking, flaking or bubbling, to fluctuations in temperature and humidity.

All changes in the rooms are required to be documented by taking photographs and detailed notes. The rooms of the house are slowly starting to show signs of drying, which is great to see. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, our second instalment of thermal scans and moisture mapping has been postponed until after lockdown. These second scans will be able to scientifically demonstrate how the Box has had a positive effect on the house!

A pink, stencilled Mackintosh rose is flaking from a panel of white wallpaper. A lit Mackintosh glass light, with another pink rose, is beside the wall.
A photograph of the wallpaper in the drawing room. Due to the walls drying, the paint is starting to flake. A wall paintings conservator will return soon to help us conserve the walls in key rooms.

Updates on our conservation programme are posted on the Hill House social media accounts, which I also help to run. We’re present on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, sharing content that ranges from informative videos and tweets to event information and stunning inspirational photos. I love working on our social media accounts as it’s a great way to interact with our visitors and supporters all around the world, and show off all the best parts of the Hill House. I try to stay active on all the accounts daily, especially during lockdown, since now more than ever, our visitors are looking for online content!

A really interesting project I’ve recently been working on is assisting our Regional Conservator, Suzanne Reid, in writing the The Hill House Interiors: Authenticity Report. This report will help the Trust’s conservation team decide on the best approach to conserve and restore the rooms in the future. The report requires in-depth research into all past works completed in the principal rooms of the property, from the early 1900s to now, and will discuss aspects such as the removal of plaster to fix dry rot and the restoration of stencilled decorations. As I’ve been reading through hundreds of documents, I’ve been able to find some brilliant forgotten gems, from site plans to detailed elevation drawings! These fantastic images help bring new stories and shed new light on the Hill House.

The one thing I’m looking forward to the most, when we can open to the public again, is interacting with our members and visitors. Our visitors ask the most engaging questions and show a true passion for the Hill House. Those who may not have been before always leave feeling inspired, which, as someone who loves the property as much as I do, is a brilliant feeling!

The Hill House is due to reopen on Friday 30 April – we can’t wait to welcome you back.

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