Despite its popularity the TV show Peaky Blinders does take a few liberties. It also bears no resemblance to the fabulous city Birmingham is now. The Birmingham Mail recently wrote about the extensive regeneration that is happening across the city with trams, new buildings. The city is hoping to attract new visitors and city hotels and Birmingham Serviced Apartments like those on http://www.8waterloostreet.co.uk/ will become the go places for overnight visitors. Anyway, back to the Peaky Blinders.
The gang ran from the start of 1890 up to 1910. It’s guessed that there were about 100 members, all of them coming from the slum areas of the west of Birmingham. Lack of work and income meant that many had no choice to turn to crime such as pickpocketing or even out right robbery. It was not uncommon for stabbings and strangling’s to occur. This violence began to be more organised until the gang began to get more confident and looked to take over areas of Birmingham itself even having the gall to declare the gangs’ name and intentions to the local press. The Peaky Blinders were born.
It wasn’t hard to spot one. The peaked flat caps and long overcoats were almost a uniform. The caps did indeed contain razor blades as a concealed weapon and even if they didn’t the notoriety that they may kept you away from them. Unlike other gangs the Peaky’s were quite dapper and flamboyant. In fact, some historians think that the Blinders part of the name wasn’t just to do with the razor blades making cuts in the victim’s forehead to blind them but more that “Blinder” means making a show with nice clothes. They wore tailored clothing with a steel toe capped boot. There was even an early form of flared trousers and silk scarves.
The outfits belied a vicious nature. Soon the gang were thinking of muscling in on other areas and taking territory from rival gangs such as the Cheapside Sloggers. After this they moved into more organised crime areas such as protection rackets, smuggling and bookmaking (as seen in the show). They were also starting to exert political control over certain areas, but it was their move into trying to control the local racecourse that saw their steady demise. They were undone by the Birmingham Boys. This was a much larger gang that forced the Blinders families out to the suburbs and away from their sphere of control in the city to escape from the increasing violence they faced. As they moved out it allowed the Birmingham Boys to solidify their powers and rule the roost. The Blinders effectively ceasing to be a force in 1910, 10 years before the start of the fictional TV show
The Peaky Blinders decade of activity is still remembered, people in Birmingham termed any violent behaviour after it. However, their notoriety still remains.