Pilot Climbing Gym

We are finally ready to move forward. This is the first commons-owned climbing gym model in the UK and most likely the first in the world. We have put thousands of combined volunteer hours to get to this point and we're very excited to share our next steps.
This is the fully funded design to be built by December 2024

Location

The Unit 21b at Merrets Mill is an 800sqft unit with about 4m at the highest point. It sits next to Coffee Lada and Fresh Standard Brewery, right by the cycle lane which connects Stroud and Nailsworth. 

Google Maps link

Our Crowdfunding Is Still Open

Please continue to share this page with your network.  As a community, we are crowdfunding a gym into existence. The more we can raise, the better the facility.

Raised So Far: £20,440 

Pledged but not transferred yet: £12,120

It’s amazing to have raised this amount for the climbing gym from the community. If you have not bought your passes, you can do so through the buttons above or our pricing page.

We can only move forward with the money in the bank and being short of the total funds needed for a full wall build, we have cut back the design to prioritise the ‘Cave’ section at the back and the slab section by the shutter door as our phase 1 build. (See full costing further down the page.)

This will enable a wide range of climbs to satisfy both seasoned climbers and those new to the sport. Importantly, due to reduced matting surfaces, it will save us enough surplus to cover our operational costs for the first 3 months.

Within this 3-month period we will raise additional funds through;

  • Projected increase of 15 to 30 more memberships with ongoing outreach and physical presence as an operating gym.
  • Grant funding.
  • Negotiate philanthropic donations.
  • Olympic viewing, film screenings and other events to raise more funds.
  • Sale of single-use vouchers redeemable during manned hours (including access for children).

More details:

Insurance:

After months of negotiation with several insurers, Activity Industry Mutual has approved our gym operating model. This means that we can provide a clear blueprint for more community-owned small gyms to replicate what we are doing. 

In order to get our gym covered, the members will be required to undergo what we term a ‘super-induction’, essentially becoming trained volunteers so you can access with a keycard. We’ll share more about the induction process and dates with members soon. 

Lease: 

One of our members has done a property survey, and a structural engineer is working on a wall design. We are currently negotiating the details of the lease agreement with the landlord. If everything goes well, it should be finalised and signed within a week or so, allowing us to begin the lease on July 1st.

Build:

We will spend the money raised on building around 75% of the facility. We currently have enough skilled volunteers in our Whatsapp community to make the walls to a very high standard. As more members join and grant funding becomes available, we'll add more walls, matting and increase our holds as a priority.

Membership Models:

A limited number of single visit passes will become available for sale soon. These will be redeemable for manned hours only. We want to make it clear that our current £300/£240 annual membership fee covers the sunk cost of setting up the gym. 

This means that from year 2, we can choose as a community to reduce the fees to cover only the operational costs between members, or keep it at the current £20 to £25 a month and provide;

  • subsidised entry and free equipment hires for youths and children.
  • Increase surplus to fund the phase 2 build enabling more capacity/holds/setting.
  • Run events such as film screenings for free and provide more manned hours with paid staff.
  • Subsidised outdoor climbing equipment hire and maintenance.

 

Roadmap

We’ve put together a rough outline so you can get a sense of how we’ll move forward.

JULY WEEK 1

  • Order all components
  • Schedule volunteers
  • Clean the unit and install the perimeter kickboards. Accurate measurements are then passed onto a climbing mats specialists. 
  • Wiring and electrics.

JULY WEEK 2

  • CCTV and entry system installation
  • Lights
  • Wall framing
  • T-nutting panels

JULY WEEK 3

  • Panel fitting
  • Risk Assessment and adjustments to the operational framework

JULY WEEK 4

  • Matting installation
  • Route setting
  • Super-Induction

JULY WEEK 5/AUGUST WEEK 1

Opening

Costs:

General Items

Fire Extinguishers, Signage, First Aid Kits, Structural Engineer, Legals, Repairs & Cleaning, Deposit

£4152

Building

Repair of front door, lock system, electrical and lights, CCTV, decorations and clean up 

£2640

Matting

75% of the final surface area. DPM and delivery.

£7442

Walls

75% of the final walls. Plywood, t-nuts, paint carcassing, bolts and structural elements.

£3032

Total Build Cost

£17266

Total Monthly Operational Cost
Rent, service charges, utilities, building and public liability insurance, cleaning and maintenance

£1456

We’d like to remind the community that we will begin to spend the money raised once the lease is signed. This means that;

  1. The money you’ve contributed will be used to build the community gym and refund will not be possible moving forward.
  2. However, by contributing money to this project, you, the community will own the assets (mats/holds/boards) outright, under asset lock.
  3. No debt will be incurred in the process and no risk of repossession by banks if the business side of the operation fails. Meaning that the assets can and will be used for the community benefit whatever the outcome.

Given our large survey data, we are confident that we can make the project work financially. However, we want to make it clear that there are sunk costs and risks associated with all community start-ups. Please continue to spread the word and bring your friends into the project to secure the vision of a local, affordable, community climbing gym. 

Core Team

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some FAQs related to this pilot project

Why are we not using a crowdfunding platform?

Crowdfunding platforms generally charge around 5% of the total raised (£1890), plus 3% on every transaction. We think this money is better spent on making the facility better. It is a bit of an effort to do a bank transfer but you get a lot more for your money.

How do I participate or ask questions?

You can enter your details in the form above and receive instructions for payment, or please get in touch through our contact page. We are all volunteers and we may take up to 5 working days to respond.

What are other needs?

If you have any climbing related qualifications, please get in touch through our contact page.

What's the build quality like?

The walls and facilities will be built properly - we will be following guidelines and standards set by the Association of British Climbing Walls and insured against public liability. The ply and mats will be industry standard and new. The holds will be sourced new and second-hand from a variety of sources and we are negotiating sponsored walls with several companies..

How long will this facility be open for?

The facility will run for a minimum period of 12 months but the intention will be to run it for far longer than that. The value for money becomes better for everyone the longer it runs. However, based on research we’ve done, we know that there is far more demand than we can offer capacity for right now. The phase 2 public facility is in the pipeline and we anticipate any move would be to a larger venue in or around Stroud. The membership of all founders who helped us build the pilot will transfer to the new facility at that point.

Where is it and what facility can we expect?

The location we’ve found is between Stroud and Nailsworth, near a coffee shop and brewery. Please see the video above to get a sense of the final design.

What is the vision?

The Stroud Climbing Commons mission is to make climbing accessible to all. Getting this off the ground without commercial involvement is no mean feat. We want to start small and fast so we can have something real that people can see and use. A pilot project also enables us to demonstrate that it is viable to set up and run a community-based climbing facility, while we build credibility and energy towards our longer-term goals. We’ve found a location, have modelled the facility and devised a funding model. We are now gauging interest among the community. If enough people want to participate, we can go ahead. If not, we will learn, adapt, and try again.

Accessible Climbing for All

We want to make climbing affordable and accessible to more people
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