Climbing centre at Oxford Brookes University expands to meet rising demand

A woman showing the peace sign on a climbing wall
A woman shows the peace sign to approve of the new climbing wall.

The bouldering wall at Oxford Brookes Climbing Centre has doubled in size as part of a refurbishment to help meet increased demand.

Bouldering is a free form of climbing which doesn’t involve ropes or harnesses. The climbing centre now boasts brand new bouldering walls built in a former squash court within the Brookes Sport facilities on the University’s Headington Campus. There are still squash courts at both of the Brookes Sport centres in Headington and Harcourt Hill. 

bouldering at Brookes Sport

The extension means the entire climbing centre is now 750 square metres in size. It includes a new piece of equipment that can measure a climber’s individual finger strength and produce a tailor-made training plan for them. 

Richard Cole, Climbing Centre Manager, said: “As climbing has gained popularity we have had to expand. We’d already taken over a squash court to expand in 2009. In 2017 I had made a plan for further expansion. This was gathering pace until 2020 when Covid-19 hit and the work was delayed. 

“The bouldering wall was 14-years-old and needed refurbishing so we’ve taken over another squash court to create a much bigger facility.”

The Oxford Brookes Climbing Centre boasts the only climbing wall and bouldering wall in Oxford. With between 5,000 and 6,000 visits per month, the centre is used by Oxford Brookes University’s climbing club and the University of Oxford’s Mountaineering Club. The nearest alternative climbing facilities are in Reading and Bicester. 

It is open to the public for casual climbers and it hosts National Indoor Climbing Awards Scheme (NICAS) courses. NICAS schemes provide a starting point for people aged seven upwards to learn how to climb. Brookes Climbing Academy, which provides climbing training for children aged six to 17, also takes place at the centre.

Sophie Pickett, climbing coach at Oxford Brookes Climbing Centre, said: “It’s a really good training facility. Before we didn’t have the room for a competition style wall for anyone training at a high level. It allows different styles of bouldering and different types of grip which is really nice.” 

More information about climbing facilities at Oxford Brookes University.