Life Video

By Niamh Shackleton


A talented teenager has transformed a shabby canal boat into a luxury holiday home for his mum and younger sister.

Billy Walden, 18, from Bentham, Lancashire, spent just eight weeks transforming the inhabitable boat into an incredible masterpiece.

PIC FROM Caters News: The canal boat before Billy started working on it

His mum, Jayne Walden, 47, spent £5,000 on the old boat with the intention of Billy refurbishing it last summer.

And prior to the renovating the boat, Billy successfully transformed a Volkswagen camper van by himself and fancied a bigger challenge.

Billy, who is currently studying joinery at college, said: “I really enjoyed refurbishing the canal boat – it was great to be able create a holiday home for me, my mum, Jayne and sister, Matilda, 11. 

“It took a lot of hard work as it needed completely restructuring; it should have actually cost more around £12,000 but because it didn’t pass all the survey tests, we were able to get it a bit cheaper.

PIC FROM Caters News: The canal boat that Billy Walden, 18, from Bentham, Lancashire, spent just eight weeks transforming into a holiday home for his mum and younger sister.

“We then spent around £2,800 renovating it to how we wanted it to look – there’s rooms for both Matilda and I, a bath, open plan glass doors that lead on to the deck and even car seats from an Audi I bought from a local scrap yard.

“After I’d previously renovated a camper van, I wanted to do something bigger and better and my mum just happened to come across the boat.

“I’m a bit of an introvert and I’ve never been into video games and stuff like many lads my age – my idea of fun is spending time in the workshop near my home.

PIC FROM Caters News

PIC FROM Caters News

“So far we’ve travelled the whole down canal from Tewitfield to Preston, we all love being on it together and the boat is even named after my sister and mum as it’s called Matilda Jayne.”

The budding joiner started college at just 14 years old and studied joinery for three years at Lancaster and Morecombe College.

Billy achieved Level 1 AIM award in just a year where he covered plumbing, joinery, carpentry hand skills, bricklaying and assisting in a brickwork workshop.

Due to this, Billy skipped an academic year at school for being so advanced and started his Level 2 in carpentry and joinery aged 15.

He added: “People have called me a joinery genius but I don’t think I am – I’m just me.

PIC FROM Caters News: Matilda, 11, sat on her bed in her bedroom on the canal boat

PIC FROM Caters News: One of the bedrooms in the canal boat

“I really enjoy doing my work and I often spend up to 15 hours a day in my workshop because I lose track of time.

“I’m working on quite a few things at the moment such as another VW camper van and Volkswagen IT Beer mobile conversion.”

Billy is taking part in the biggest joinery completion in the country in the coming weeks through his college.

If he’s to win, Billy would be officially known as a ‘master carpenter’ which is the highest level you can achieve.

PIC FROM Caters News: Billy Walden, 18, from Bentham, Lancashire, with his sister Matilda, 11,and mum Jayne

PIC FROM Caters News: Billy Walden, 18, from Bentham, Lancashire, with his sister Matilda, 11

Proud mum, Jayne, said: “Billy doesn’t realise how good he is, his tutor from college said he was ‘exceptional’ at what he does!

“He’s won a previous competition that led to him being offered Licentiate by The Institute of Carpenters; this equates to Degree level.

“He also was awarded a separate outstanding achievement award in carpentry and joinery from his college 

“I’m so unbelievably proud of Billy and what he’s achieved, and what he’s going to achieve in his life.

“We’ve already enjoyed a few trips together on the boat, Matilda loves it.”