How Brighouse's ROKT Climbing Gym revivified itself following Storm Frank and the 2015 floods.
For a town nestled at the junction of two not-very-steep valleys, its hard to imagine that Brighouse is home to Britain's tallest man-made climbing wall.
Built from the bones of the Sugden’s flour mill in 2011, the ROKT Climbing Gym remixed the 14-year derelict mill's silos into bouldering courses, climbing walls and a 36m outdoor wall, offering a spectacular view of the town and beyond.
The mill sits on an island between the Calder & Hebble Navigation and the River Calder, uniquely exposing ROKT to the rising waters of Storm Frank that hit Britain on Boxing Day 2015.
As the ground floor flooded with 4ft of water, General Manager Ben Stoker arrived mid-morning and began to move electrical equipment to safety. By the afternoon, the team, upset they could do no more, determined it was no longer safe to be inside and withdrew to a nearby pub to watch the waters overwhelm their workplace.
However, within just two days, ROKT's staff and a team of volunteers re-opened the gym and begun a crowdsourcing campaign, raising £20000 – half of the repair cost – within a month, from just 300 supporters.
Though the floods were devastating, ROKT used the opportunity to give the gym a fresh look and open new experiences for customers, including the 36m high "ROKTface" outdoor climbing wall, which opened in 2017.
Working with Calderdale council ROKT's ambition is to help the borough become the most active in the North. With the resilience and gumption shown by its staff and volunteers, I wouldn't bet against them achieving that goal.