/ Demolition of Watford Climbing Wall

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Daywood on 27 May 2013
The centre wants to demolish the much-loved climbing wall & replace it with an oversized kids play area calling it a ‘Rock Box’ ; we need as much support as possible at the public consultation on Thursday 6/6 at 6:30pm at Watford Central Leisure Centre at 6:30.
A local instructor has proposed to lease the existing wall himself. However, the centre seems determined to ignore us & rip down the wall.

http://www.watfordobserver.co.uk/news/10425392.Row_over_changes_to__unique__climbing_wall/

http://www.high-sports.co.uk/rockbox/

Thanks - Daywood.
eholley - on 28 May 2013
In reply to Daywood:

My name is Elizabeth Holley and I am the Regional Development Officer for the BMC. Please do get in contact with me directly to see how I am support the wall.

Elizabeth Holley
Elizabeth@thebmc.co.uk
snowpup - on 29 May 2013
In reply to Daywood: Sad news indeed. I'll make sure I'm there. It would be a real shame.
Trevers - on 29 May 2013
In reply to Daywood:

Questionnaire here (for venting displeasure): http://www.everyoneactive.com/tabid/1881/Default.aspx

Although I don't go nearly as often as I used to or would like, the Watford wall was where I learnt to climb. It's got the best designed natural features I've come across, which actually enhance the climbing, unlike at some other walls where they feel a bit gimmicky. It would be sad to have it replaced with a soulless climbing frame
Trevers - on 29 May 2013
In reply to Trevers:

Just had a look at the quesionnaire again.

There was a question 5 which provided a comment box. I don't remember the exact question, but it might have been something like "Please state any objections to the proposed plan"

Strikes me as a little suspicious that this question in particular is now missing?
martinph78 on 29 May 2013
In reply to Daywood:


I am speechless!



Daywood on 29 May 2013
The whole thing's taken us completely by surprise, as we were given no warning about it at all. I only found out about it by accidentally noticing a questionnaire lying on the reception desk. They're only holding the consultation at all because the council is forcing them to, after much screaming & shouting by the Watford climbers.
gingerwolf - on 29 May 2013
In reply to Daywood: Daywood, I'm Chair of the BMC Climbing Wall Committee

My email is thomasbond.physio@gmail.com

Also, as Liz Holley mentioned above, drop me an email and let me know if we can do anything to help.

Thanks

Tom
Carolyn - on 29 May 2013
In reply to Martin1978:

That Rock Box thingy claims to be a completely new climbing concept. Odd, it looks remarkably like this in concept to me.....

http://www.clipnclimbmaryport.co.uk/
Chris.Allott - on 29 May 2013
In reply to Daywood:
Macclesfield had a climbing wall at the Leisure Center...much worked on over 20 years and loved by locals..(but reviled by the masses)...THEY shut it and made "Urban Area"..abandoned in droves!..It made a wee profit before...cost a few bob and made nowt after..Everyone loses.
Trevers - on 29 May 2013
In reply to Martin1978:
> (In reply to Daywood)
> [...]
>
>
> I am speechless!

I don't get what's so un-fun about a normal wall
woolsack - on 30 May 2013
In reply to Carolyn:
> (In reply to Martin1978)
>
> That Rock Box thingy claims to be a completely new climbing concept. Odd, it looks remarkably like this in concept to me.....
>
> http://www.clipnclimbmaryport.co.uk/

It is to climbing what a Boris bike is to cycling.

As above, speechless!
Panick - on 30 May 2013
In reply to Daywood: At risk of being thrown off UKC, I actually quite like it. I think from the face of it it looks like a great way to get kids into climbing. Rather than being faced with endless 8a overhangs it appears to offer a fun and attainable "climbing" experience.

People on here go on about how walls aren't real climbing anyway so surly this is the obvious natural progression.

Maybe its not right to replace an existing wall with this, I don't know the area or the wall so can't comment directly but over all yep we need proper walls for decent winter training but at the end of the day I think this kind of facility has its place.
jkarran - on 30 May 2013
In reply to Daywood:

Rockbox looks like great fun!

That said, it's to sort of thing people go to once or twice, maybe for a kid's party but they don't keep going back week in week out. I can't really see why you'd pull out an existing climbing wall to replace it with this unless there were underlying problems with the climbing wall as a structure or as a business.

jk
dissonance - on 30 May 2013
In reply to woolsack:

> It is to climbing what a Boris bike is to cycling.

I was disappointed when scrolling through it. I thought it was going to be total wipe out style with boxing gloves shooting out of the wall.

Daywood on 30 May 2013
In reply to Panick: We're not saying the 'Rock Box' wouldn't be fun or good exercise; it looks like quite a good novelty experience that might be great for kids' parties. However, there's no progression at all - no challenge, no way to increase your skills. People might come once or twice, but except for exercise, people would stop at that - & the leisure centre already has a very good gym!

The current climbing wall is already incredibly accessible & can be enjoyed by people of all abilities. The induction takes place very quickly & a large number of people have been inspired to take up climbing as a life hobby. That's what the role of climbing wall should really be - to inspire. The Rock Box will not inspire; it will bore. There's loads of young people in Watford who wouldn't have anywhere to go if the plans go ahead & might have to give it up permanently.
Daywood on 30 May 2013
In reply to jkarran: The main problem is that there's been a complete lack of promotion; many people in Watford don't even know there is a wall. Also, the routes haven't been changed for 2 years, meaning many users who used to come no longer do - the routes are in the process of being changed now, so it seems bizarre that they're suggesting it at this point.
Neil Williams - on 30 May 2013
In reply to Daywood:

It has long been railway tradition to refurbish and generally improve anything (a line, a signalbox, a station etc) just before you intend to close it.

I guess that can apply elsewhere :)

Neil
Trevers - on 30 May 2013
In reply to Daywood:
> (In reply to Panick) We're not saying the 'Rock Box' wouldn't be fun or good exercise; it looks like quite a good novelty experience that might be great for kids' parties. However, there's no progression at all - no challenge, no way to increase your skills. People might come once or twice, but except for exercise, people would stop at that - & the leisure centre already has a very good gym!

I watched the video on the Rock Box site. One of the comments was 'looks like it would be good fun for stag/hen parties'. Well great, but where does that leave actual climbers?
argyle_dude - on 30 May 2013
In reply to Panick:
> (In reply to Daywood) At risk of being thrown off UKC, I actually quite like it. I think from the face of it it looks like a great way to get kids into climbing. Rather than being faced with endless 8a overhangs it appears to offer a fun and attainable "climbing" experience.
>
> People on here go on about how walls aren't real climbing anyway so surly this is the obvious natural progression.
>
> Maybe its not right to replace an existing wall with this, I don't know the area or the wall so can't comment directly but over all yep we need proper walls for decent winter training but at the end of the day I think this kind of facility has its place.

Someone else posted a link above to Clip 'n' Climb which is basically the same thing. They have a Clip n Climb at the Quay in Exeter and its always got school groups and kids parties etc in there. It probably is a great way to get kids into climbing. However, it is in addition to the main climbing wall and not a replacement for.

ads.ukclimbing.com
Neil Williams - on 30 May 2013
In reply to argyle_dude:

There's a similar thing called Crazy Climb at the Beacon, and just recently installed at Big Rock (MK). In the latter case it replaced a couple of low top-roping sections that almost nobody used (and some more, better top roping was installed round the back of the lead wall to make up for the lost lines, so nothing really lost).

Neil
Daywood on 30 May 2013
In reply to Neil Williams: I agree it's not a bad thing in principle, but it'd just be really bad to have no wall in Watford - loads of young people who use it wouldn't be able to make any of the other local walls on a regular basis. Also: the current wall already caters for all abilities!
EarthColt on 30 May 2013
In reply to Daywood: I looked on the website and it sounded TERRIBLE. I have been climbing for two years and this wouldn't have sparked an interest in the same way. Best of luck with your campaign!
Trevers - on 31 May 2013
In reply to EarthColt:
> (In reply to Daywood) I looked on the website and it sounded TERRIBLE. I have been climbing for two years and this wouldn't have sparked an interest in the same way. Best of luck with your campaign!

"choreographed group fitness" *vomit*

I can see it's place in complementing an existing wall. The Watford wall is tiny though, there's only room for one or the other.
jkarran - on 31 May 2013
In reply to Daywood:

> The main problem is that there's been a complete lack of promotion; many people in Watford don't even know there is a wall. Also, the routes haven't been changed for 2 years, meaning many users who used to come no longer do - the routes are in the process of being changed now, so it seems bizarre that they're suggesting it at this point.

That sounds like an underlying problem with the business to me. Is it council run, do they have a suggestions box, is the manager approachable? Maybe local climbers who value the place could start a monthly competition or offer time to set routes and inject a bit of life back into it.

jk
Daywood on 31 May 2013
In reply to jkarran: It's a council leisure centre, but it's run for the council by a company called SLM. We're trying to make suggestions - we've sent in a letter with suggestions, & as I said in the original post, a local instructor has offered to lease the wall himself - but they're not listening. It's only because the council got involved that we're having the consultation evening at all. We've even had climbers who've offered to reset the routes themselves; the centre just doesn't seem to be interested in the wall at all, or even give it a chance.
robbie Warke - on 31 May 2013
In reply to Daywood: This is yet again an example of public money being used to allow a private company to benefit. High Sports are going to operate this at a profit to them, just like they do in some of the other walls they operate.
Why should public money be used to enable private companies to profit?

Whilst I understand that councils have to make facilities profitable and attractive it appears that a few companies benefit from the money spent on building facilities.

This has happened with Go Ape using forestry commission land to operate a private business, ok so they build the facility, however they directly benefit from land maintained by public money. I am sure that many small independent business would love to have machinery, supplies etc. bought for them or to have cheap rent paid for by the general public.....discuss
Daywood on 01 Jun 2013
In reply to robbie Warke: True. But then again, the council have a duty to provide leisure services, & they have decided SLM will provide them more efficiently than the council could; & SLM has decided High Sports can provide the wall more efficiently than they could. Experience has shown that when government runs services itself, it often fails miserably. Better a few fat cats getting marginally better off & us having subsidised services, than no services at all? Though I hate to say it... SLM unfortunately have a right to decide how to run the wall.
Daywood on 07 Jun 2013
In reply to Chris.Allott:
> (In reply to Daywood)
> Macclesfield had a climbing wall at the Leisure Center...much worked on over 20 years and loved by locals..(but reviled by the masses)...THEY shut it and made "Urban Area"..abandoned in droves!..It made a wee profit before...cost a few bob and made nowt after..Everyone loses.

Chris, it might actually be really helpful if you could write a short email to the Watford council describing what happened in Macclesfield. We've just had the consultation evening, & the council's now examining evidence & awaiting a report from the leisure centre before making a decision. The email address is Gary.Oliver@Watford.gov.UK

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