A NEW indoor climbing centre has opened on Wearside.
Sunderland Climbing Centre includes the largest “bouldering wall” in the North East and specially designed structures for climbers of all ages and abilities.
The attraction, based at Southwick Sports Hall, has created eight jobs as well as apprenticeships.
Supported by Sunderland City Council’s business investment team, it will provide a “great city resource” for climbing, which has grown in popularity in recent years.
According to recent figures, an estimated nine million people visited indoor climbing centres in the UK last year.
The International Olympic Committee is also debating whether climbing will be an Olympic sport by 2020.
Mark Goodings, from the centre, said: “Climbing has huge participation in the UK.
“In a recent Sport England survey, it came out as being in the top five participation sports at the minute.
“It’s something for people of all abilities. It’s a fun thing for groups to do, and there are lots of health benefits.
“We want the new Sunderland Climbing Centre to be something for everyone.
“We have equipment and challenges suitable for experienced climbers, but people young and old who have never tried it before will be equally at home.
“We want everyone to come in and try climbing and find out the many benefits for themselves.”
The Wearside centre is the partner venue of Newcastle Climbing Centre, which opened four years ago and now has more than 7,500 members.
As well as the bouldering wall, the facility includes an area for instruction, training and group use, alongside a cafe, meeting rooms, viewing gallery and a “chill-out area”.
Councillor Harry Trueman, deputy leader of Sunderland City Council, said: “It is excellent news that a business in such a popular, growing area of sport, which appeals to all ages and abilities, has chosen to open in the city.
“We are very pleased to have been able to support Sunderland Climbing Centre and wish them the very best for the future.”
For more information, visit www.sunderlandclimbingcentre.co.uk or call 549 7777.