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Holmfirth Gaming Centre

Hi Guys! We were recently contacted by Jay Muffitt, who runs Holmfirth Gaming Centre. They opened back in 2015, but have been growing steadily and now want to try their hand at running some bigger events. They are very near Stockport (which many of you may recognise from the various Caledonian Events ran by Element Games). You can check out their website below, but after this are some words from Jay himself about the history and growth of the community. Enjoy!


Holmfirth Gaming Centre

HGC Facebook Page


It all started just over 3 years ago. Having got back into the hobby after the birth of my two sons I had been playing regularly at the Pennine Raiders over in Halifax. Although I had enjoyed playing there, the 50-minute drive to the club and the dwindling number of 40k players would have a bearing on my later decisions.

The first time I laid my eyes on the place was when I had been asked if I would care to look at an office space my wife had found above the karate centre at Thongsbridge, Holmfirth. The space needed a lot of work, but the rent was cheap and we needed an office for Lynette’s car leasing business.

So it began there, with an unheated office space in a dusty old mill nobody had done any work on for years. It obviously came to my attention that Lynette’s new office, although needing a lot of work, had one thing going for it.  It had a hell of a lot of storage space.

I had been looking for a place to play a good-sized Apocalypse game and this fit the bill. After several days I managed to remove four one tonne bags of rubbish from the floor including numerous old pallets, broken machines, redundant pipework from the ceiling and other assorted crap. This revealed an amazing space that got the ideas flowing. If I could rent this space for a short while I could build a temporary table and play that game you always hear about online. So, after negotiation with the landlord we managed to secure it, although on a limited contract, and the hard work could begin.



Work began December 2014. Lynette wanted her office finishing first (how inconsiderate) so I started there. It took two months to insulate, rewire and decorate her new office. Being an electrician came in handy here and skills in joinery etc. were learnt along the way. Money was an issue.  We had started under the strict ethos that it was just a bit of fun and we would never borrow money for any for the building work. This was fine after all it was purely for Lynette and I was just messing around but big ideas had already started to form.

The first thing I started on was the apocalypse table after all that was the reason I asked to rent the rest of the place. And that is where we hit the first snag. The reason we got this place, so cheap was because nobody wants 3600sq ft of space at the top of two flights of stairs with no lift access! Everything would need to be brought up the stairs. There was a crane, but it was a little ropey and we had been warned off using it by the landlord. Good job I liked carrying things up stairs then (he said sarcastically). The table was going to be a 15ft diameter circle with a cut away in the middle with the idea that it would leave about a 6 ½ ft reach from the centre to the edge. This later proved to be wrong and we went for a hexagon shape which proved easier to use. But what would we build it out of? Wood cost too much and I really wanted it to be strong enough to lean on so…ash blocks.  Unfortunately blocks + stairs = back pain.  Turned out I was very wrong on this but anyway it had begun and I’m nothing if not stubborn…

Luckily I didn’t have to tackle this alone, I had an insurmountable amount of help from a friend of mine who had come over with me from the Pennine Raiders Club, Rob Lovett.  We managed to build the table and enough terrain to fill it including the 2 ½ ft tall mountain around one of the building structural supports to help disguise it.


So, what’s next? I suppose I ought to make a little money to pay off some of this rent I’m paying, thought I. But nobody wants to come to an empty room with a table in the middle. So, what do I need to make this work as a club Gaming Centre? Clubs are relatively small things in church halls and sports centres but this place was huge. A few more tables, a counter to serve over and some gaming stock would be nice. The first two would be easy, just a bit of building time for Jay. But the last one would involve an investment of money I had already decided I wouldn’t do.

In steps Owen Parry, a friend of mine for several years with retail experience in the wargaming industry. He was looking for a Bricks and Mortar opportunity to open a wargaming store.  I asked him if he wanted to join in on this project with me, not so much as partners but more like co-habiting businesses. He would get an address to regain the GW contract and a better platform for displaying his product. I would get a percentage of the sale and a shop to keep the customers happy (whoever they might be we hadn’t even opened yet).  All this was agreed by a verbal contract which has never wobbled (though his belly does) in the three years we have been working together (I’m on the right in the below picture).


The HGC opened in April 2015 with little in the way of a plan and no customer base to start with except for me, Owen and Rob. The first couple of weeks were a little rough with no real customers except for a few friends and invited guests, then a stroke of luck. A local group was in search of a new venue and they found us! We had the lift we needed, a gaming group of about 10 players we were on our way.   We opened Sunday and Thursday nights and as a shop during the week. The turnover was small but so was the rent. We had successfully opened a gaming centre in Holmfirth and it was working. For now…

Profits increased and business looked good.  We could afford to set on a Sunday employee to help out (and allow me some gaming time).  The group steadily increased in size with gamers new to the hobby and familiars from other groups attending more regularly. Owen brought in more stock, Rob using his contacts designed and built more terrain for the tables and I concentrated on expanding the club with greater storage areas and club facilities.



Then disaster!  Although we had talked about expanding the club further it was always on the back burner waiting for the right time. This was until the landlord increased the water rates and quadrupled the rent. It was go big or go home time.  The winter of 2015/16 had been expensive. Trying to keep the gamers warm with electric heating had proven costly and ineffectual. Costs had gone up and attendance had dropped due the cold. We had to install proper gas heating and build the centre into the venue it could become.  Cutting costs and increasing profits whilst still being true to our original belief of keeping the gamers happy, was the most important thing. But it was going to be difficult as a sizeable investment was needed. The plans were drawn up and the centre shut down for almost the entirety of January 2017, ready for our big relaunch.




The expansion included a new shop area covering over 500sq ft and the Juno Café, so we could produce real hot food instead of just microwave burgers and pot noodles. We also needed to finish the rest of the tables in the club so we had the 25 tables we needed to run events for 50 people. All this needed to be launched with a bang so we decided to run a club relaunch day to show the place off.

The shop took the bulk of the time. With the floor being uneven we had to ply coat the whole surface and build two new dividing walls, separating it from the rest of the club and the stairs going up. New shelving and wall racking had to be bought and of course it all needed populating. Owen bought a huge amount of stock including new ranges. It boasted 6m of GW racking 4m of Bolt Action. The whole Vallejo and GW paint ranges, Batman, War Machine, Carnival, KR, Legion, board games, bits and much more.


The Juno Café was a big success allowing us to turn a poor part of the business. We could now charge a reasonable amount for great quality food products which brought an amount of previously lost revenue into the club. The best thing about this was the customers loved it. It meant that gamers could come down and have their evening meal here, snacks and treats were available and hot food could be provided for events.



The Last thing was the gaming space. As I had mentioned previously I needed to be able run events for 50 people or more. The relaunch day had at least 20 people booked for each of the gaming systems that would be running on the day – Warmachine, 40K and a Batman event. On top of that we had people dropping in for our free give away and raffle along with well-wishers and friends.

The day went without a hitch. The introduction of an events counter at the far end of the gaming centre meant that all the gamers could get their results in without crowding the main counter and café area. Guests could float in, pick up their freebies and look around without hassle and the staff where left relatively un-stressed. The relaunch of the Gaming Centre had been a success, the tell would be over the next few months to see if we could regularly make enough money to pay for the new hiked rent.




The Centre has gone from strength to strength. Club attendance has gone to well over 20 per night (compared to the 10 per week we started with). We now open Tuesday, Friday and Sunday nights and our staffing has changed, we now have a part time member of staff, Nathan.  We have also continued to increase the quality and range of the gaming terrain and tables.   Hopefully we’ve kept that welcoming feel we set out with and the mentality that a happy gamer will come back and bring his/her friends. Events have increased in numeracy and quality with a mini event two Fridays out of every four. It also looks like we could end up being a staple venue for the Yorkshire Blood Bowl League and our inter-county 30k War of the Roses event.

Finally, I believe that the future for the HGC is bright, but further promotion is needed. Larger events that can draw from an ITC crowd and further promotion from bloggers and forum sites could increase footfall and allow us to build greater things for our gamers. These include on-site storage lockers, improved shop facilities and amazing terrain pieces you could talk about for weeks. The key is getting our name out there letting people know that we aren’t some grungy cellar, or uncaring corporate warehouse and that there are gaming areas and communities without sales agendas. Yes, we do sell gaming products but we aren’t forcing it into your hand as you’re trying to get out of the door.

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