Stronghold (external link) is a state of the art climbing centre on Fountayne Road.

Patrick Hammond runs the centre. Patrick a former professional climber, worked with the world-renowned climbing wall business Walltopia to construct London’s largest indoor bouldering centre.  Having been part of the first British team to free climb El Capitan, Yosemite and has made un-repeated first ascents of big walls in the Peruvian Andes. He has applied for OIF (Opportunity Investment Fund) funding twice and has used the money to move to bigger premises and improve the business.

Can you tell us a bit about your new location?

OIF was great. With the funding we put in a retail shop, café, gym, changing rooms, better facilities for people to go back to. New location was an unusual building co-use space. The building is shared with architects, fashion business, music and professional creatives. The climbing wall has become a social hub. Friends meet up. There are no pubs nearby, we are the alternative to going to the pub. People come for the café, coffee is big and healthy snacks too. 

What is different between Stronghold in Ashley Road and Fountayne Road?

Ashley Road has a more young crowd. Tottenham is diverse, both ethnically, culturally and age wise. We have more customers in the 40-50 age range. Lots of kids’ stuff has been successful. We have a weekly school club and develop kids with the team. We have a lot of schools’ referrals, and many kids are working towards a climbing qualification. With youth clubs, it’s over 200 plus kids. Many kids climb with their parents. Dads and mums do it as a family. Tottenham is a family, climbing is for kids to do. 

You’ve applied for OIF funding for a second time, what is it about this funding that works well for your business?

The new site is more spacious, we can do more. It’s a bit more stylish, make the space look nice. We improved the changing rooms, underfloor heating, a coaching gym, café and shop. The space is bigger and better, we improved on what we had before. 

The OIF gives generous rates. The money goes into Tottenham. We cleared the first loan in 3 years. It’s a good unsecured loan, can’t argue with that. For the first twelve months, we didn’t have to pay anything back. 

What will the funding be used for?

With the second loan we used the money for the gym, changing rooms, building electrics/plumbing. We also increased the size of the climbing wall by 40%.

How many staff does Stronghold have? 

We have 30 staff who all come from Haringey and the neighbouring areas. We gave staff two pay rises, to bring the salary up to the London Living Wage. It was the right thing to do. It was good for staff and the local community. 

Some are serious climbers who take sabbaticals to go climb The Alps and others are instructors. The staff get to know the local people, they all become a part of the community. It’s a nice place to work. 

How did you get into climbing?

I was obsessed with climbing at the age of 12 or 13. I badgered my parents at 14 and did a course. Me and my friends, we had a lot of freedom. Back then it was a small sport, there were very few indoor venues, it was more of an outdoor sport. 

These days, it’s more of an indoor sport in cities. I want to take Tottenham people to more mountainous areas, that is my ultimate goal. I would like to take people to North Wales, the Peak District or the national parks in South Wales. 

What would you say to businesses who are interested in the OIF?

It’s a good opportunity. You need a strong business plan and it has to be robust. If you have a good plan, go talk to the team. They are motivated to bring people into the area.

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