TWO avid climbers who transformed a disused Brighouse flour mill into an indoor climbing gym are scaling new heights after securing extra funding.
Business partners Euan Noble, of Lindley, and Leigh Topping, from Mytholmroyd, are now making a further investment to create one of the biggest indoor climbing walls in the UK.
The duo opened ROKT Climbing Gym in April at the former Sugden’s flour mill and have signed up almost 6,000 members in less than eight months.
They have now secured an undisclosed Enterprise Finance Guarantee Loan from banker NatWest to further develop the facility.
The cash will be used to create several new climbing features, including a large “bouldering chamber” that uses the latest climbing technology, a caving system that includes a kilometre of tunnels, drops and pools, an indoor free running gym and an outdoor free running park.
Euan and Leigh spent three years researching suitable sites across Yorkshire before launching ROKT in the former Sugden’s Mill.
The building is the tallest in the town and features 15 giant solos and a 22-metre high lead wall.
ROKT’s existing facilities include a 4.5-metre high competition bouldering wall, a 21-metre overhanging lead wall, five boulder chambers of varying complexity, four six-metre top rope silos each with 18 routes, a children’ climbing wall and a range of activities and places for parents and observers.
Since opening in April, the gym has become a firm favourite with climbing enthusiasts and regularly attracts visitors from throughout the UK.
ROKT is also used by local schools, colleges and community groups, including students from Huddersfield and Bradford universities. It also hosted the first round of the North West University Bouldering Competition and will host the final next year.
Leigh said: “Since we launched the business in April the response has been tremendous.
“We’ve attracted people from all backgrounds ranging from the most experienced climbers to beginners who had never previously been near a climbing wall.
“Our ultimate goal is to create one of Europe’s best indoor climbing facilities. We have a unique building in which to do this and have made this latest investment to enhance the facilities and create almost 2.5 km of climbing wall surface.
“We’re confident this will attract new visitors and provide a different challenge to our existing climbers.”
NatWest’s business banking team in Huddersfield supported ROKT with their ambitious plans and provided the EFG loan to part-fund the new developments.
Caroline Hamnett, NatWest relationship manager, said: “This is a great example of a successful start-up business.
“Euan and Leigh have invested a great deal of time and money to transform a disused and dilapidated building into a focal point for the community.
“We are very happy to support their plans – and I am even thinking of taking up climbing as a result.”
Thomas Sugden founded the mill, off Mill Royd Street, in 1829. The original mill burnt down in 1895 and a replacement was built the following year. The first silo was built in 1959 and the second went up in 1963.
After its closure in 1997, the site was at the centre of a decade-long planning row. Owner Younger Homes wanted to demolish it and redevelop the site, but planning permission was refused.
Euan and Leigh were given planning permission at the end of last year.