Bespoke steel cover takes centre stage at new amphitheatre

A one-of-a-kind cover has become the focal point of a new flood storage area that doubles as an outdoor performance space in Sidmouth, Devon. The steel cover, which was created by Wrekin Products, forms an integral part of a significant flood alleviation scheme in the area. Laser cut with an intricate leaf pattern, the product was left ungalvanized meaning the surface would oxidise quickly due to the surrounding seawater environment.

The cover also features a unique opening mechanism, which was devised especially for the project, in order to allow a single operative to easily and safely lift the cover without causing damage to the surrounding bespoke stonework.

Paul Shaw, director of fabricated steel at Wrekin Products, said: “It was wonderful to work on something so different and to solve the challenges that this particular project faced. More often, we are finding that there is an increasing need for specialist expertise in the steel area both in terms of high functioning performance and aesthetic appeal.

“This shift towards the need for high-quality finished covers plays to our strengths at Wrekin and we take pride in our ability to craft exceptional products like this.”

The project was delivered for Devon County Council, designed by the engineering group  Jacobs, with South West Highways as the main contractor. Jacobs established the concept along with multiple design parameters, which Wrekin quickly developed and engineered the final product to fit in with the amphitheatre.

Paul Hargreaves, head of discipline, surface water management (UK & Europe) at Jacobs Engineering, said: “We’ve enjoyed working with Wrekin on this project and we have been impressed with the level of ingenuity shown. In particular, the opening mechanism has been very well received.

“When unlocked, the cover rises with little effort on a spring-loaded strut, before pivoting and spinning clear of the opening. What’s more, the design has multiple benefits including one-person operation. It is also theft-proof due to the locking mechanism and the ornate stonework will not be damaged during operation.”

Birdseye view of the new development in Devon

These works are the first phase of the scheme to improve water drainage in the town, with the aim of reducing the flood risk to more than 100 properties.

The amphitheatre was officially opened in October 2021 by Councillor Jeff Trail, chair of Devon County Council. Other project partners included the Environment Agency, East Devon District Council and Sidmouth Town Council.

This cover is the latest in a series of bespoke designs Wrekin has provided,  such as a tribute to The Beatles, commissioned by Thames Water and placed next to the world-famous zebra crossing on Abbey Road, as well as a striking rainbow design dedicated to the LGBTQ+ community, installed in Reading, Swindon and central London.

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