The closing of the Floodgate in Digbeth

The Closing of the Floodgate, Digbeth, July 2024

The Floodgate featured in one of my favourite pictures which was taken in Floodgate street during the early hours of morning.  Although I had never been inside the venue, I have passed the front entrance on many occasions during my photographic visits to Digbeth.  When I heard that The Floodgate was closing then I knew that I had to photograph the place before it closed.  On a Friday afternoon, which was the penultimate day of the venue being open, I ventured into the place and brought a drink at the bar.  I asked the staff whether I could take photographs of the inside and they kindly said that I could go ahead. So a big thank you to them for this blog.  

The Closing of the Floodgate, Digbeth, July 2024
Baseball cages
The Closing of the Floodgate, Digbeth, July 2024
The Floodgate Raceway
The Closing of the Floodgate, Digbeth, July 2024
Beth who works at the Floodgate with artwork in the background.

The Floodgate is one large games entertainment venue with curling, baseball, table golf and model car racing amongst the sports that punters can take part in.  I met Beth who worked in the Floodgate.  Beth explained that the Floodgate was closing due to the sky-high rent.  When Beth told me the figures that they were being charged for rent then it is no surprise that independents are struggling.  Digbeth is undergoing changes and the early success of independents has attracted larger businesses who want a slice of the action. Digbeth is becoming a very popular part of Birmingham (if it was not popular already).  There are plans for several high rise residences to be built in the vicinity.  Many of the old warehouses and industrial units are being earmarked for demolition with a complete revamp of the area planned.  Already the Boxpark franchise will be pumping 5 million pounds under the nearby railway arches that will create bars and restaurants.  The independents have difficulty in matching this sort of investment.  

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The Floodgate had only just opened for the evening and apart from a few customers playing curling, I had the place to myself for taking pictures.   The Floodgate has one large bar area situated in the main warehouse.  Table tops are in the form of baseballs and colourful murals adorn the walls. There are baseball cages and an impressive model car racing track.  The latter has a set of seats complete with steering wheels where people can control the model cars they see in front of them around the track. 

The Closing of the Floodgate, Digbeth, July 2024
You never know who you will meet in the dark
The Closing of the Floodgate, Digbeth, July 2024
With a little help from my friends
The Closing of the Floodgate, Digbeth, July 2024
Hole 18 – Table Golf
The Closing of the Floodgate, Digbeth, July 2024
The Trotter’s car and other lights.

 Leading off from the main warehouse, there are two games areas . The walls are covered with colourful graffiti art that glows in the UV light.  The area is a psychedelic experience and the Jimi Hendrix song Purple Haze came to mind. I enjoyed taking pictures with both my cameras, the Fujifilm x100vi and my iPhone.  This is where the new Fujifilm with IBIS worked well.  Such pictures taken in low light with this camera would have been impossible without a tripod in the past.  The iPhone is well known for its low light photography,  The curling lanes were surrounded by lights and a ceiling of springs.  The table golf set up looked impressive when set against the graffiti. The area was a little spooky with no people present. Beth did tell me that there were stories about ghosts in the warehouse and occasionally I felt a presence as I wandered around the darkly lit areas of the table golf rooms.

The Closing of the Floodgate, Digbeth, July 2024
Outside Curling
The Closing of the Floodgate, Digbeth, July 2024
Glory Days
The Closing of the Floodgate, Digbeth, July 2024
NHS Angel wings in the light
The Closing of the Floodgate, Digbeth, July 2024
Under the arches

The outside area has more curling lanes and baseball cages that are set against a backdrop of the towering railway arches.  The cameras now had to deal with strong light and harsh shadows as for once it was not raining.

My final shot was of Beth and other staff in the bar area.  It is sad to see such places closing but I guess this is progress.  The early charm of Digbeth with venues taking advantage of the old industrial warehouses is slowly disappearing.  The Floodgate is an example of creating different types of entertainment.  Such places will disappear and be replaced with new shiny establishments that will cater for most of the new residents that will be entering Digbeth.

My final shot was of Beth and other staff in the bar area.  It is sad to see such places closing but I guess this is progress.  The early charm of Digbeth with venues taking advantage of the old industrial warehouses is slowly disappearing.  The Floodgate is an example of creating different types of entertainment.  Such places will disappear and be replaced with new shiny establishments that will cater for most of the new residents that will be entering Digbeth.
Beth with the Floodgate bar in the background
My final shot was of Beth and other staff in the bar area.  It is sad to see such places closing but I guess this is progress.  The early charm of Digbeth with venues taking advantage of the old industrial warehouses is slowly disappearing.  The Floodgate is an example of creating different types of entertainment.  Such places will disappear and be replaced with new shiny establishments that will cater for most of the new residents that will be entering Digbeth.
Floodgate Street

If you enjoyed this blog then please take a look at my other Digbeth entries starting with Digbeth Art from July 2020


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