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The Custard Factory, Digbeth - A Birmingham Gem!

Devonshire House on High Street Deritend in Digbeth was built in 1902 for Alfred Bird and Sons Limited who produced egg free custard

They continued at this site until 1964 when production was relocated to Banbury. The arts facility we have now was set up in 1992 by Bernie Gray, and later taken over by his son Lucan Gray who owned the site until 2017. Zellig opened in Deveonshire House in 2010 with offices and workspace units. The Custard Factory is also famed for it’s graffiti street art which changes regularly

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History & heritage, Photography, Squares and public spaces

Project dates

07 Oct 2019 - On-going

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Art, culture & creativity
11 Mar 2020 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

A look around Zellig at the Custard Factory over the years

For many years now part of the Custard Factory has been called Zellig. Inside is various businesses and shops. As well as art fixtures. There used to be a pond in the middle of the square, but think that's gone now. Recent changes including the "Only in Digbeth" parts. You can pass through from Gibb Street to the Zellig Car Park. Would be nice one day to get up on the roof.

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A look around Zellig at the Custard Factory over the years





For many years now part of the Custard Factory has been called Zellig. Inside is various businesses and shops. As well as art fixtures. There used to be a pond in the middle of the square, but think that's gone now. Recent changes including the "Only in Digbeth" parts. You can pass through from Gibb Street to the Zellig Car Park. Would be nice one day to get up on the roof.


ZELLIG

My earliest photos around Digbeth and the Custard Factory were taken during October 2009. I think that this was before the area became known as Zellig. Here there used to be a big pond in the square, near The City is a Work of Art. On the right used to be Factory Kitchen.

This view looking up at the Custard Factory, painted white and the windows.

Also seen during this October 2009 visit was a sculpture of a Dragon on the wall. Made in 1993 by Tawny Gray. Was scaffolding to the right at the time.

The first time I got a photo inside of the Zellig public area inside was during July 2015. All these white tubes going up to the roof. A bit like the game KerPlunk. This is called Chaos by Philip Watts, There are bridges up there. Now how does a member of the public that doesn't work there get up, can the Custard Factory give us photographers access, including up on the roof?

My first photo of this hanging sculpture taken during July 2015. The Deluge by Toin Adams made in 2010.

Also a sculpture of a Lion. Artist and year made unknown.

This view from April 2016 near the pond that used to be there. Towards The City is a Work of Art.

By April 2018, this area at Zellig was now a square without a pond. And I saw the TARDIS from Doctor Who. Police Box Public Call. Had the 13th Doctor landed? Behind to the left was Alfie Birds. They were in the process of regenerating the buildings.

Yellow hoardings with the Only In Digbeth hashtag seen during August 2018. Thinks were changing here.

A Christmas Tree seen in the Zellig square during December 2018. To the right was the TARDIS from Doctor Who. Work still being done on the Only in Digbeth alterations.

By October 2019 the Only in Digbeth works were complete. On this side was The Crib and Stag Digbeth - Coffee / Bar / Barbers and Cocktails.

Another look at Chaos by Philip Watts. Shop below called Wayland's Forge.

One of the new looking entrances to Zellig during November 2019. Industrious, Individual, In it Together, #OnlyinDigbeth.

Same thing again, but a close up look at the sign.

During December 2019 towards the Zellig Reception and Shops. Saw this pair of Christmas trees along with the decorations. Chaos is seen behind. The Deluge is above (by Toin Adams).

In January 2020, I met up with Karl Newton for a Brumtography meet at Ghetto Golf. While there had a look around Zellig again. Looking up to the domed glass roof. Bit like a crystal from the Crystal Maze.

A piano. There was an exhibition on the walls around here by Lisk Bot.

Some more views of Chaos by Philip Watts. Somehow it holds up those walkway bridges.

There looks to be about three levels up there.

5 years after I last got a photo of this sculpture, I got a much better photo of The Deluge by Toin Adams (2010). Just look up when you are around there.

At Zellig during February 2020. This time meeting Karl again for the Roxy Ballroom meet. NQ64 Arcade Bar. We wont be doing a Brumtography meet here, as they want too much money, and wont let us do it for free, which is shame. So for now, this would be the closest I could get to it.

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

Follow me on Twitter here ellrbrown. Now at 1,100 followers. Thank you.

Birmingham We Are People with Passion award winner 2020

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06 Feb 2020 - Elliott Brown
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Roxy Ballroom on Heath Mill Lane in Digbeth

The entertainment / culture venues around Digbeth continue to open. Roxy Ballroom is at 58-60 Heath Mill Lane (around the corner from the Custard Factory). Has a bowling alley, pool tables, ping pong tables and shuffleboard. There was also some basketball games and vintage arcade video game machines too. Also they do Flatbread Pizza and have a bar / cocktails. Look for the Ozzy Osbourne!

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Roxy Ballroom on Heath Mill Lane in Digbeth





The entertainment / culture venues around Digbeth continue to open. Roxy Ballroom is at 58-60 Heath Mill Lane (around the corner from the Custard Factory). Has a bowling alley, pool tables, ping pong tables and shuffleboard. There was also some basketball games and vintage arcade video game machines too. Also they do Flatbread Pizza and have a bar / cocktails. Look for the Ozzy Osbourne!


Another Brumtography meet in Digbeth. This one at the newly opened Roxy Ballroom on Heath Mill Lane. Before it was a bowling alley, this building used to be occupied by McLeman Forklift Services Ltd. Their offices were next door to the left where Birdies is now. To the right is now Drop Shot (that building was formerly occupied by B & K Fabrications Ltd). By 2015 that building had Lisk Bot art on it.

Back to Roxy Ballroom. Thanks once again to Karl Newton for organising the meet and getting permission from them. Much appreciated.

 

We were a bit early so we headed into what is now called Custard Factory Car Park (I've always called it Lower Trinity Street Car Park). The entrance is on Heath Mill Lane. Checking out the street art, saw this view of Roxy Ballroom. Behind you can see Colmore Gate and Three Snowhill.

One of the first things you see when you enter, is this mural of Ozzy Osbourne of Black Sabbath fame (it's to the right of the bowling alley). Get well soon Ozzy (he has been diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease). There are various pieces of street art around with the names of various bands / groups).

Bowling Alley

When we first went in, they had the normal lights on, so the lanes looked all yellow. Shortly they would turn off the normal lights with only the red and blue lights keeping the lanes lit.

This is what the Roxy Ballroom bowling alley looks like with the normal lights turned off. Hashtag at the back #DigbethBallers.

The view from the first floor balcony, up here is pool tables, but you can enjoy watching the bowling while having a drink and food.

Used one of the Creative effects filters on my camera for this photo.

Three lanes were open for us, so we of course tried bowling (for free) and at the same time attempting to take photos. Bit hard at first getting gutter balls. I later came back to the lane on the right and did a bit better (bowling skills that I've had for decades, but don't go that often any more).

Another view from the top There is 10 lanes in total. Lane One is to the far left, while Lane Ten is to the far right.

Pool

Up to the first floor mezzanine area where you will find the pool tables. They also have a couple of Shuffleboard tables and one Ping Pong Table. Customers can also watch the bowling from above while having a drink.

Initially the pool cues were laid out like this. Ozzy can't decide if he wants to play pool, or go bowling!

Later Karl lined balls 1 to 15 up in a line for some photos.

From the other side.

Karl lined up the balls for a shot, and hit the white ball with his Pool cue.

Action shot as the white ball hits all the coloured pool balls.

Shuffleboard

Also up here was a game called Shuffleboard, or Shufl.

They have two of these long tables laid out.

View of Shufl from one of the pool tables.

And close up. I didn't see the discs on here.

Ping Pong

They have two Ping Pong (table tennis) tables at Roxy Ballroom. The first one was on the ground floor, on the left side of the bowling alley, just beyond the four vintage video game arcade machines.

The second Ping Pong table was upstairs near the pool tables. To the left of the stairs (above the main entrance).

Roxy Ball Room written onto the side of the Ping Pong table. I've always known it as table tennis.

Found a Ping Pong ball on a pool table. I put the Pool cues into an X shape. X marks the spot. And placed the Ping Pong ball below. At this point I didn't know that Karl took a tray of Pool balls upstairs.

The only time I handled the Pool cue was for this shot with the white Ping Pong ball (pretending that it was a white Pool cue ball.

Photobooth and NBA Game Time

First game you see as you head in from Heath Mill Lane is NBA Game Time. A basketball game. On the left is a Photobooth which you can use to take group photos. Looks like a tight squeeze!

This view from the bowling alley towards the Photobooth and NBA Game Time. To the right is the Games Desk where you get your bowling shoes, and also Pool balls. Further to the right is the bar. You can also order your pizza from there (I would assume).

Zoom in to Photobooth and NBA Game Time when the left Basketball hoop was red and the right was blue.

This section represents the NBA team the Chicago Bulls.

This one represents the NBA team the New York Knicks.

Vintage Video Game Arcade Machines

These arcade machines are straight out of the 1980s or 1990s. They are to the left of the Bowling Alley. Four machines in total.

Left to right: Pac-Man, Leisure 2000, Hyper Sports and Burgertime.

Zoom in of the Pac-Man machine.

Hyper Sports.

Burgertime.

Games Desk and Bar

The bar where you can order your drinks including Cocktails. Also you can order Flatbread Pizza here (and I'm sure probably other snacks / food).

The bar towards the Games Desk. This end though is the empty glasses and bottles, waiting to be served.

Entrance to Roxy Ballroom to the left (from Heath Mill Lane). The stairs to the left leads up to the floor with the Pool tables, Ping Pong and Shuffleboard tables.

At the Games Desk, switch your shoes for bowling shoes. If you are playing Pool upstairs, they will give you your Pool balls. Ping Pong rackets and balls on the top shelf. Also what looks like paper cups.

The neon sign for Games Desk and the line of seven lights down the bar.

Behind the bar, staff will serve you your drink, and from this position, hand out your bowling shoes etc.

For my previous Custard Factory related post, click here for Ghetto Golf: Ghetto Golf at the Custard Factory.

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

Follow me on Twitter here ellrbrown.

Birmingham We Are People with Passion award winner 2020

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30 Jan 2020 - Elliott Brown
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Ghetto Golf at the Custard Factory

A Brumtography photo meet on the 16th January 2020 at Ghetto Golf at the Custard Factory in Digbeth. A miniature golf course of 18 holes with graffiti, video games and horror movie references. For over 18's only. They also have a bar and areas for visitors to eat. We went before they opened, around 4 of us in the end. Thanks to Karl Newton for organising / gaining permission.

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Ghetto Golf at the Custard Factory





A Brumtography photo meet on the 16th January 2020 at Ghetto Golf at the Custard Factory in Digbeth. A miniature golf course of 18 holes with graffiti, video games and horror movie references. For over 18's only. They also have a bar and areas for visitors to eat. We went before they opened, around 4 of us in the end. Thanks to Karl Newton for organising / gaining permission.


GHETTO GOLF

A Brumtography (Facebook) group meet on the 16th January 2020 at Ghetto Golf Birmingham. Which is located at the Custard Factory in Digbeth, on Gibb Street (on the other side of the Bordesley Viaduct). A Crazy Golf course for over 18's only. We went before they opened, and was there for around an hour. They have a Cocktail bar and also serve food for paying customers from Apocalypse Cow. There is amazing graffiti and artwork all over the place, in I think what used to be a former warehouse.

I liked seeing the video game artwork of Sonic the Hedgehog, Super Mario Bros, Donkey Kong and Abe from Oddworld series. Was also artwork of horror movie characters such as Beetlejuice and Freddie Krueger.

Hole 1 to the right. Apocalypse Cow BBQ Street Food to the left. The graffiti bus behind is hole 3.

In hole 1 was this communal bin with Oscar the Grouch from Sesame Street! Graffiti all over the place.

To Hole 2 which is a Petrol Station. This sign is near a recreation of The Old Crown pub. The stairs leads up to other holes.

I would guess that this is the petrol station with all the Mobil signs. The Old Crown is to the right of here. Also near the bus. The stairs leads up to other holes.

Hole 3 is in this former single decker bus from Manchester. Now covered all over in graffiti. They built a DJ station on the roof of the bus.

Inside the bus from the main entrance. You can also get in and out via the emergency exit door to the back on the left. So much graffiti all over.

Hole 4 is this skateboarding ramp. Then hole 5 near the adult shop and red post box.

After hole 5 is a Blockbuster Video which is hole 6. Inside they "rent out" horror movies on VHS video cassettes.

Inside of hole 6 aka Blockbuster Video. Dare you rent out My Girl? Head round the corner to find Pinhead from the Hellraiser movies and see Regan from The Exorcist get lit up!

Then head out past Freddy Krueger from the Nightmare on Elm Street movies and get a Coca Cola. The door to the left exits to hole 5.

Hole 7 is a bathroom. Lots of graffiti street ar here with toilet seats used as heads. Bath in the middle.

It looks like you have to hit your golf ball up the ramp and into the dirty toilet! And put your hand in to get the ball out. Hope they provide gloves!

Hole 8 meanwhile is this chicken pen. Next up is hole 9 which is the recreation of The Old Crown pub.

At the time of this visit, the real Old Crown pub was closed for renovation works. So hole 9 as The Old Crown was the only one that you could visit.

It really looks like an old style public house inside. I've never been inside of the real Old Crown pub though, only walk past it outside (or see it from the bus). That door leads to holes 8, 7 and 6. For hole 10, you have to go upstairs.

Hole 10 on the first floor is Tony's 8 Ball Snooker Hall. Wind your golf ball to the hole like a trick shot, Big Break style.

View of hole 10 from the ground floor from near hole 1.

Next up is hole 12 which is this Dog Kennel.

They appear to be growing something inside of the dog kennel. Somehow you have to get your golf ball in there?

Hole 12 is like something from the Aztec world (I would guess).

They also have images of the Green Man on the wall leading to that creepy face in the door.

The next hole is hole 13 which is this old room. It could be from the 1970s with dated wallpaper and furniture. But the globe and portraits look much older.

Close up look at the globe.

The last hole on the first floor is hole 14, which is a 10 pin bowling alley.

6 pins in position while the other 4 is behind the barrier. Downstairs next to four 16 bit video game inspired holes I think you will love (if you grew up in the early 1990s).

The first video game hole, is hole 15. Based on the 16 bit Super Mario Bros from the SNES (unless it's based on the 8 bit Mario Bros from the NES).

Head past Mario and Bowser (also known as King Koopa). Mario would also have been on the Nintendo Game Boy.

Hole 16 is this Pinball game. Next to the Gameboy saying "Sicker than yo' Average.

At least I think it's pinball and not Space Invaders. Donkey Kong is next at hole 17.

Almost near the end. Hole 17 based on Donkey Kong, which is an 8 bit game from the NES.

There was later a 16 bit game on the SNES called Donkey Kong Country with better graphics. I think you can tell that Sonic the Hedgehog is next!

Finally hole 18 is Sonic the Hedgehog from the Sega Mega Drive. The 16 bit game that was released in 1991 and will soon get his own live action movie!

It is based on the Green Hill Zone that famously opened the classic 2D side scroller. Also featuring Dr Robotnik (who Sega now called Dr Eggman). Game Over Man Game Over!

Now for some bonus photos to finish this post. Near the entrance was this artwork of Beetlejuice (from the 1988 movie directed by Tim Burton and starring Michael Keaton). But will they make Beetlejuice 2?

One of my favourite video game characters was Abe from the Oddworld series. First appearing on the Playstation 1 (32 bit console) and PC CD Rom in 1997 in the game Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee, and it's follow up game in 1998 which was Oddworld: Abe's Exoddus. Later Oddworld games were on the original XBox. Abe was known to ask his fellow Mudokons: "Follow me!" and they would reply: "OK!".

Near the Apocalypse Cow area was this logo from Mortal Kombat. The original game I think came out on the Sega Mega Drive. They are still making Mortal Kombat games to this day and Mortal Kombat 11 is on the Playstation 4, XBox One and Nintendo Switch (they are very violent).

More seating here probably for Apocalypse Cow BBQ Street Food near what looks like to be a heavily gratified train!

Karl Newton keeps setting up these photography meets in the Brumtography Facebook group. If you are a Birmingham based photographer, please request to join. Karl or one of the othe admins may accept you. There is now regular meets and Karl sets up the tickets on EventBrite. It is private group, so you have to be a member to see the posts.

One of our recent meets was at the Electric Cinema on the 20th January 2020. We also met up for the first time at The Eagle & Tun pub before it closed for good by HS2, this was on the 11th January 2020.

I most recently joined Karl and another member of the group at the Bullring for the Festival of Light (on the 26th January 2020). Watch this space for an up and coming post!

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

Follow me on Twitter here ellrbrown.

Birmingham We Are People with Passion award winner 2020

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12 Dec 2019 - Elliott Brown
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The changing face of street art over the years at the Custard Factory

Over the years I keep returning time and time again to see what the latest street art is painted at the Custard Factory in Digbeth. You can now get on via the gate at Floodgate Street and walk over the footbridge that crosses the River Rea. Then under the Bordesley Viaduct through the car park towards Gibb Street. Every month the giant billboard art changes. From City of Colours to Hi Viz.

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The changing face of street art over the years at the Custard Factory





Over the years I keep returning time and time again to see what the latest street art is painted at the Custard Factory in Digbeth. You can now get on via the gate at Floodgate Street and walk over the footbridge that crosses the River Rea. Then under the Bordesley Viaduct through the car park towards Gibb Street. Every month the giant billboard art changes. From City of Colours to Hi Viz.


Ever changing, the street art always gets painted over. So while the art is gone, the photo of it survives years later.

2013

This view taken on Floodgate Street in Digbeth during Feburary 2013. The Bordesley Viaduct seen crossing from Bordesley towards Birmingham Moor Street Station.

This view taken in July 2013 in what is now the Zellig Car Park. Looks like a pirate!

The Custard Factory chimney in November 2013 painted for Movember by Graffiti 4 Hire. It is still there now (yet to be painted over). You can see it from the Zellig Car Park or from High Street Deritend.

2014

King Kong painted in yellow was outside of The Old Bank on Gibb Street during July 2014. When Adee Phelan opened a salon here. Previously this was Turners Violins. The Clean Kilo is now in this building.

From the gates on Floodgate Street. This is an alternate entrance to the Custard Factory. Heading under the Bordesley Viaduct. This view taken during August 2014. Cross the footbridge over the River Rea and cross into the car park for the short walk to Gibb Street.

In October 2014 to check out the wonderful street art painted at the City of Colours Festival during September 2014. The artist was Jimmy C.

2015

This piece taken on Floodgate Street during January 2015. The artist was Gent. Several skeletons here.

Garfield seen on Floodgate Street during March 2015. Although I previously got a photo of this one in October 2014. The gates to the Custard Factory was closed. This was on the day of the St Patrick's Day Parade 2015.

Birmingham Centre of the Universe. Seen during October 2015. The man at the top is Benjamin Zephaniah. On the left is Felicity Jones (who would go on to star in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story in 2016). This wall regularly gets repainted, usually with giant painted posters adversing something.

2016

The view during April 2016 on Floodgate Street and saw this amazing piece. Not sure of the artist or artists, but was quite close to the Bordesley Viaduct.

The City of Colours Street Art Festival was held again in Digbeth, this time during June 2016. This piece being painted on the wall on Gibb Street. Car park entrance to the right under the Bordesley Viaduct. These artists are amazing. I think it's by Justin Sola (but I'm not fully sure).

Painted gates on Floodgate Street under the Bordesley Viaduct. This entrance to the Custard Factory was closed. Seen in December 2016. This Must Be the Place painted by Caroline Roose. Probably done at the Summer 2016 City of Colours Festival. It was Boxing Day, so the Custard Factory was probably closed.

2017

This was seen during February 2017. The bottom of the Moonlight street art painted movie poster. It won the Oscar for Best Picture at the 2017 Academy Awards. I've not seen this film myself.

Temporary hoardings at the Zellig entrance of Devonshire House. Merry Christmas from Zellig seen in December 2017. Nice image of a snowman.

Blade of the Immortal also seen in December 2017 (same day as above). In the Zellig courtyard area.

2018

The steps from Heath Mill Lane during the snow of March 2018. The walls were very pink down here.

Crossing the River Rea footbridge under the Bordesley Viaduct during April 2018. And I saw this wall painting of a lady with sunglasses. Possibly a piece by Justin Sola (or someone else).

On Gibb Street in July 2018 under the Bordesley Viaduct. "The Bohemian from Balsall Heath". Painted for Odeon Cinemas. The man is probably Odeon founder Oscar Deutsch. R2D2 from the Star Wars movies was played by the late great Kenny Baker. Felicity Jones by now a star thanks to Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. The Beatles probably performed in Birmingham in the 1960s.

2019

Under the Bordesley Viaduct from Floodgate Street during March 2019. The gates to the Custard Factory were open. "Diablo" by Gent 48.

Peaky Blinders returned to BBC One in August 2019 with Series 5. And this piece of Tommy Shelby was on the painted billboard wall at the time. Peakys Fan Art by James Mundy.

Judge Dredd in the Zellig Car Park during October 2019. It was probably painted during the High Viz Street Art Festival, which took place during early September 2019. Saw this during Birmingham Weekender, but I was more interested in the street art.

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

Follow me on Twitter here ellrbrown.

 

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