Sabina Saktaganova Staff Reporter, The Pawprint
The “Peaky Blinders” is a famous British TV show created by the BBC. It features a dangerous Thomas Shelby, who leads Peaky Blinders, a criminal gang based in Birmingham in 1919. However, not everything that is presented on the TV show is true. In this article, I will reveal the history behind the TV series “Peaky Blinders” and its main character, Tommy Shelby.
Who were the actual Peaky Blinders?
Just like in the TV show, the real Peaky Blinders were a notorious Birmingham gang involved in gambling, robbery, protection rackets and violence. Most of their members were young men, and some could be as young as 12. In addition, they were exclusively a street gang and didn’t have Tommy’s political ambition. They did, however, go even further than Tommy, or even any of his brothers, in their violence. On top of the robberies and fights with rival gangs, they assaulted the police.
When were the Peaky Blinders formed?
The Peaky Blinders were from the 1890s rather than the 1920s, as presented in the BBC series.
What is the story behind their name?
The popular story is that their name came from the razor blades in their caps. Historian Carl Chinn proposed that this is most likely a myth. Razor blades were only starting to be used in the 1890s and were really expensive at the time. It’s much more likely their name came from the peaks of their caps and the fact that ‘blinder’ was slang for their well-dressed appearance.
From the TV Show “Peaky Blinders”
Was Thomas Shelby a real person?
Thomas Shelby: TV show vs. Reality. Credit: Screenrant
The main character of the show was just a work of fiction. However, Billy Kimber, the leader of the Birmingham Boys, could be a model for Tommy. Although, he is a minor character in season one, in real life Kimber was charismatic and intelligent and became the most powerful gangster in England.
How did the Peaky Blinders collapse?
The Peaky Blinders ruled the Birmingham streets for decades, but by the 1910s, they’d lost power to rival gang the Birmingham Boys. Although they’d lost the top spot, the term ‘Peaky Blinders’ came to refer to any street gang in Birmingham.
It wasn’t just the increasing dominance of other gangs that led to the end of the Peaky Blinders. The police became stricter, which meant that many left the gang and few joined. Children were increasingly going to school, and new boxing clubs gave many an alternative to the gang. By the 1920s the remaining Peaky Blinders moved to the countryside and largely disappeared from view as the Sabinis, another gang, claimed all their Birmingham territories.