NEW life is being breathed into a derelict Poole sports centre which has reopened after a six-year closure.

The Project Climbing Centre has taken over the former Poole Sports Centre premises in the Dolphin Centre, with the aim of becoming one of the largest indoor climbing centres in Europe.

Freddie Naish, 27, and his business partner Andy Long have big ideas for the gigantic centre with its 1,500 sq metres of floorspace and 10 metre height, which will take three years to fill.

A 4.5metre wall exists for bouldering – climbing walls using hand and toe holds without ropes or harness, with a crash mat – and work is underway on free standing walls. Eventually the entire former badminton hall will be filled with climbing walls.

“In terms of extent we have basically got the biggest climbing wall in the south west now,” said Freddie, who has run bouldering centres for the past five years.

“When it is finished we’ll be one of the largest bouldering centres in Europe and the second biggest in the UK, if not the biggest.”

With the Purbeck coast popular with rock climbers Freddie said this was an ideal place for a centre with training walls, and they have sessions for seven years up, with trained instructors.

Already proving very popular – with Tuesday evening sessions attracting around 40 climbers – and with a host of other sports offered over the three floors, it has been a long road to get this far.

“All of this space was available and it took two years to negotiate with the landlord. By the time we signed it had been empty for six years. It is really sad in terms of the way the community was missing out on the facilities,” said Freddie.

He added: “It is nice we are offering different sports. Not five-a-side football and basketball. Things that are a little more unusual.”