Olympic gymnast cuts ribbon on unique seating made by young craftsman for Bentham residents

Talented Bentham craftsman Billy Walden was joined by an Olympic gymnast to officially open a unique seating area he built.

Wednesday, 28th July 2021, 12:30 pm
Updated Thursday, 29th July 2021, 4:48 pm

Billy has spent the last month making the seating for Bentham playing area, which was constructed using around 17 tonnes of concrete as well as wood.

Billy, 20, last featured in the Lancaster Guardian two years ago when he appeared on Channel 4 TV show George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces.

He had turned a battered old canal boat into a luxurious floating holiday home for himself, mum Jayne and sister Matilda.

Billy Walden with Olympic gymnast Brinn Bevan at the finished seating area.

This followed his first major project at the age of 15, when he transformed an old horsebox into a unique camper van.

The seating structure was commissioned by Morecambe's Deco Publique and built from scratch by Billy.

Jayne said: "The main challenge was constructing a mould out of wood that would hold the weight of 17 tonnes of concrete whilst it set.

"Also the front was curved in two directions making a mould that not only would achieve the desired curves but could withstand the weight of concrete which would also be a moving weight as it was pokered to remove as much air bubbles as possible.

Olympic gymnast Brinn Bevan performs for the crowd a the opening of the finished seating area.

"Graham from Craven Concrete was invaluable and in his own time met Billy to discuss the best way forward to make one of the moulds to make the curve; the curved mould was the weakest point.

"The most worrying part was when the first tip went in, but as more and more concrete was added thankfully the mould stayed.

"Graham had only come to deliver the concrete but he stayed for hours helping Billy work the concrete to remove air bubbles etc. Billy said he could not have done it without him.

"After that apart from the curved roof structure which had to be bent and measured precisely to get each curve the same it was just a question of time, grinding, welding, painting etc."

Billy Walden with Olympic gymnast Brinn Bevan at the finished seating area.

Olympic gymnast Brinn Bevan cut the ribbon on ther newly completed structure at an official opening on Sunday, and also posed for photographs with the public as well as doing hand stands on the structure.

Brinn, 24, was part of the first men's team to win a team medal at a World Gymnastics Championships for Great Britain in Glasgow in 2015, and was part of the British team to compete in the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in 2016

Billy said: "It was an honour to meet Brinn, who has achieved so much including being crowned senior British All-Around Champion at the 2018 Gymnastics British Championship.

"Also a massive thank you to Graham from Craven Concrete who waived all his fees to make an Olympic gymnast coming to a small town to cut a ribbon a reality."

Billy Walden at work on the seating area.

Billy's work can be seen on his YouTube channel here.

Billy Walden working on the seating area.
Billy Walden working on the roof of the seating area.
The finished seating area at Bentham playing fields.
Billy Walden at work on the seating area.
Billy Walden working on the seating area.
Billy Walden with Olympic gymnast Brinn Bevan at the finished seating area.
Billy Walden with sister Matilda and Olympic gymnast Brinn Bevan at the finished seating area.
Billy Walden working on the early stages of the seating area.