a visit to fizzpop

When Nottingham Hackspace was first getting started Fizzpop in Birmingham had been around for at least a year. I took the opportunity of visiting Fizzpop’s “new” Hackspace next to the Custard Factory in Digbeth, Birmingham just behind the Bullring Market.

I’ve knocked about with Fizzpop quite a bit really always taking the opportunity to see how they are getting on if I happen to be passing Birmingham. I end up in Brum from time to time as like anyone who works for a national organisation, it’s a convenient place to get to for most people in the UK.

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Apart from a short and probably not very successful time in Birmingham’s Jewelry Quarter (living under the wing of Black Country Atelier) Fizzpop has lived in Digbeth formally at The Edge, an arts studio and now in an interesting garage belonging to the Custard Factory.

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Frankly my over riding memory of my visit was that off being cold. It was January after all and I’d been wondering around a rainy city for 3 hours waiting for Fizzpop’s open night to start (it’s Wednesday at 7pm by the way). Getting in was a little confusing (mostly because I didn’t understand the sign that had been put out) but once I knocked loudly someone came to push the flap that acts as a barrier against the cold night air. This is probably a great solution to the roller shutter door type of problem they face at Fizzpop.

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Inside was a friendly if rather isolated section of Hackers. Fizzpop desperately needs members and like all Hackspaces has struggled to know how to do this. There are of course plenty of problems to overcome with the space and it’s offering. The space itself belongs to the Custard Factory which used to be where Birds made the yellow powder to make custard. It’s now an arty-farty-media-centre (that’s a little unfair of me I have no idea what it is as I’ve never been) anyway they are also Fizzpop’s landlords. A member told me it’s £25 a month to belong. Right now a lot of the effort seems to be around building heaters (out of bits of old heaters). Fizzpop are skint so I sort of understand this desire and £25 a month is a lot to pay to be in a cold warehouse.

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They do however have some great tools, though not yet properly ready for people to use safely. I spotted pillar drills, lathes and a milling machine (I think). They also have lockers!!! (3 exclamation points) which is brilliant. I am jealous of those lockers. In fact if Fizzpop needs money they should consider selling those lockers to bigger Hackspaces like London or Nottingham. Having proper lockable space for project storage or for members to put their precious things is a boon. It also afford organisers the opportunity to enforce limits on storage of stuff. Hackspace can fill with crap very quickly.

So what Fizzpop really needs is members or money or a good hot spring and summer! If you could help them with both of those I do recommend a visit.

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