Digbeth Institute

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Coordinates: 52°28′32.13″N 1°53′14.55″W / 52.4755917°N 1.8873750°W / 52.4755917; -1.8873750

O2 Institute
Digbeth Institute (1).jpg
Exterior of venue (c.2010)
Full nameO2 Institute Birmingham
Former namesDigbeth Institute (1908–55; 1990–98)
Digbeth Civic Hall (1955–90)
The Sanctuary (1998–2008)
HMV Institute (2010–15)
Address78 Digbeth High St
Birmingham B5 6DY
OwnerAcademy Music Group
OperatorLive Nation
Capacity2,000 (O2 Institute)
600 (O2 Institute2)
250 (O2 Institute3)
Broke ground1906
Opened16 January 1908 (1908-01-16)
Renovated1957, 1985, 1997, 2008–10
ArchitectArthur Harrison
Venue Website

The O2 Institute (originally known as the Digbeth Institute) is a music venue located in Birmingham, England. The venue opened in 1908 as a mission of Carrs Lane Congregational Church. It has also served as an event centre, civic building and nightclub.

It has three main rooms: the 2000-capacity main auditorium called The Institute which has a seated upper balcony, the downstairs room which holds up to 600 people called O2 Institute2 (formerly "The Library") and the 250-capacity upstairs room O2 Institute3 (formerly "The Temple").[1]

The venue also houses "Un-Plug", an intimate club with a capacity of 400, located in the building's cellar. The space formerly operated as the "Midland Jazz Club", "Jug 'O Punch Folk Club", Dance Factory and "Barfly".


Designed by Arthur Harrison, it was officially opened 16 January 1908 by the wife of the Pastor of Carrs Lane Church, John Henry Jowett,[2] as an institutional church associated with Carr's Lane Congregational Church. In the week that followed, it hosted a variety of acts. The area which surrounded it was predominantly slums and industrial buildings.

In 1954, the building was put up for sale by the trustees as they felt the building was not needed for its originally intended use. It was bought by Birmingham City Council in 1955 for £65,000 and was used as a civic hall. People known to have made speeches at the Digbeth Institute include Neville Chamberlain, Henry Usborne, Florence L. Barclay and Herbert Hensley Henson. The Church relocated to Yardley as Digbeth-in-the-Field Congregational Church.

In the late 1950s and early 1960s it housed the Midland Jazz club. In 1987, the building was used as a film studio by the Birmingham Film and Video Workshop for the Channel 4 film 'Out of Order'. The venue also played a part as one of the main locations in the feature film 'Lycanthropy', filmed in 2005–06.

In the 1985 and 1997, the venue was refurbished. In 1998, "The Sanctuary" opened,[3] which was to be the original home of the Cambridge/Northampton born club night event Godskitchen. It also played host to other events such as: Atomic Jam, Uproar, Slinky, Sundissential, Athletico, Ramshackle, Insurrection, Inukshuk and Panic.

In 2005, Channelfly Company bought the downstairs "cellar" room, and turned it into the Birmingham Barfly.[4] This 400 capacity venue was host to touring bands and local bands. The MAMA Group acquired Channelfly as a subsidiary in 2006.[5]

In 2008, the MAMA Group took over the lease of the whole building.[6] Work was started on renovating the building, especially the historic features. The work was due to be finished in September 2009 (but was not completed until March 2010).[7] In January 2009, HMV bought a 9.9% stake in The MAMA Group (by taking 50% of the Mean Fiddler). In January 2010 HMV bought the remaining percentage of the MAMA group for £46 million.[8]

After a £4 million refurbishment, the HMV Institute opened on 18 September 2010.[9][10]

In December 2012, HMV sold its assets to Lloyds Development Capital (LDC) for under £8 million.[11] In 2015, the venue was acquired by Live Nation, and re-branded as O2 Institute Birmingham, as part of the O2 Academy Group.[12]

Naming history[edit]

  • Digbeth Institute (16 January 1908—1955[13]; August 1990—1998)
  • Digbeth Civic Hall (1955—1990)
  • Sanctuary Nightclub (1998—2008)[14]
  • HMV Institute (18 September 2010 – 10 October 2015)[15]
  • O2 Institute (11 October 2015—present)[16]


The exterior is a mixture of red brick and grey terracotta. The grey terracotta forms the more ornate features of the façade including the three towers, the 1.65-metre tall allegorical figures and the window and door frames. The six allegorical figures are believed to be the work of John Evans, the chief modeller for Gibbs & Canning. Two hold open books and two have musical instruments (a third's instrument is lost). The final figure holds a purse, representing public charity.[17] The drawings of the building by Arthur Harrison do not include the figures, indicating that these were probably added in 1909.[18] The building is Grade B locally listed.[19]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ Longley, Martin (2 September 2014). "The gig venue guide: The Institute, Birmingham". The Guardian. Retrieved 1 June 2017.
  2. ^ Latourette, Kenneth Scott (1985). "The 20th Century in Europe: the Roman Catholic, Protestant and Eastern Churches". Christianity in a Revolutionary Age: A History of Christianity in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries. IV (1st ed.). New York City: Harper & Brothers.
  3. ^ "Birmingham Attractions: Sanctuary (The), Birmingham". Yahoo! Travel. Yahoo! Inc. November 2013. Archived from the original on 2 December 2013. Retrieved 24 November 2013.
  4. ^ "Barfly to open sixth venue". Music Week. 9 September 2005. Archived from the original on 2 December 2013. Retrieved 24 November 2013.
  5. ^ "Profile: Stephen Budd". International Music Community. Retrieved 24 November 2013.
  6. ^ "Barfly takes over The Sanctuary". Trinity Mirror. 3 March 2008. Archived from the original on 3 December 2013. Retrieved 24 November 2013.
  7. ^ "Barfly takes over The Sanctuary". Trinity Mirror. 3 March 2008. Archived from the original on 3 December 2013. Retrieved 24 November 2013.
  8. ^ "HMV buys MAMA Group in live music takeover deal". BBC News. 23 December 2009. Retrieved 24 November 2013.
  9. ^ "Birmingham's newest music venue HMV Institute ready to open its doors". Trinity Mirror. 15 September 2010. Archived from the original on 15 November 2010. Retrieved 1 June 2017.
  10. ^ "Birmingham venue set to reopen its doors". NME. IPC Media. 6 September 2010. Retrieved 1 June 2017.
  11. ^ Chassany, Anne-Sylvaine (3 December 2012). "HMV sells Mama Group music arm to LDC". Financial Times. Archived from the original on 5 January 2013. Retrieved 1 June 2017.
  12. ^ "LIVE NATION RE-BRANDS 3 EX-MAMA VENUES AS 'O2' IN THE UK". Music Business Worldwide. 12 October 2015. Retrieved 1 June 2017.
  13. ^ Henry, Robert T. (2005). The Golden Age of Preaching: Men Who Moved the Masses. Lincoln, Nebraska: iUniverse. p. 282. ISBN 0595362222.
  14. ^ Alister, Morgan (16 May 1998). "Clubs: Highlights". The Independent. Independent News & Media. Retrieved 1 June 2017.
  15. ^ "Digbeth's HMV Institute opens its doors on Saturday". Trinity Mirror. 15 September 2010. Retrieved 1 June 2017.
  16. ^ Cannon, Matt (12 October 2015). "Digbeth live music venue The Institute undergoes name change". Trinity Mirror. Retrieved 16 December 2015.
  17. ^ "Allegorical Figures". National Recording Project. Public Monument and Sculpture Association. Archived from the original on 24 August 2011. Retrieved 26 October 2010.
  18. ^ George Thomas Noszlopy (1998). Public Sculpture of Birmingham: Including Sutton Coldfield. Liverpool University Press. ISBN 0-85323-692-5.
  19. ^ Birmingham City Council - List of Locally Listed Buildings