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Peaky Blinders True Story: The Real Life Gang

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Peaky Blinders True Story: The Real Life Gang

Peaky Blinders True Story: The Real Life Gang

Peaky Blinders is a British crime drama television series created by Steven Knight, that premiered on BBC Two on 12 September 2013. The series is primarily set in Birmingham, England, and follows the exploits of the Shelby crime family in the aftermath of World War I. The fictional gang is loosely based on the Peaky Blinders, a real 19th- century urban youth gang who were active in the city from the 1890s to the early twentieth century. Cillian Murphy stars as Tommy Shelby, the gang’s leader, with Helen McCrory as Tommy’s aunt Elizabeth “Polly” Gray and Paul Anderson as his older brother Arthur Shelby respectively, who serve as the gang’s second-most senior members.


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Who were the real Peaky Blinders?

Peaky Blinders True Story

Peaky Blinders True Story

The Shelby family is fictional, but a real street gang operated in Birmingham at the turn of the 20th century. In fact, creator Steven Knight was inspired to write Peaky Blinders because his dad’s uncles, the Sheldons, were bookmakers and part of the Peaky Blinders’ heritage. In an interview with History Extra, he revealed that his dad’s stories gave him his first vision of the show.
According to historian David Cross, “They used their hats with razor blades sewn into rob people. That’s what a Peaky Blinder was.”
“One of the stories that really made me want to write Peaky Blinders is one my dad told me… His dad gave him a message and said, ‘Go and deliver this to your uncles’… My dad knocked on the door and there was a table with about eight men… immaculately dressed, wearing caps and with guns in their pockets. The table was covered with money…

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Peaky Blinders True Story: The Real Life Gang

“Just that image – smoke, booze and these immaculately dressed men in this slum in Birmingham – I thought, that’s the mythology, that’s the story, and that’s the first image I started to work with.”

As historian Carl Chinn, author of The Real Peaky Blinders, tells the Birmingham Mail’s Zoe Chamberlain, the main difference between the fictionalized Peaky Blinders and their historical counterparts is timing. Although the television drama is set during the 1920s and ’30s, the actual Birmingham group rose to prominence closer to the 1890s.

Most of their members were young men, and some could be as young as 12 also wore silk scarves around their necks and sported thick wool jackets. The popular story is that their name came from the razor blades in their caps. Historian Carl Chinn (via Birmingham Mail) suggested that this is most likely a myth. Razor blades were only starting to be used in the 1890s and so were prohibitively 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. David Cross, a historian at the West Midlands Police Museum, tells BBC News’ Michael Bradley that the Peaky Blinders targeted victims indiscriminately, choosing “anybody who looked vulnerable.” He says, “Anything that could be taken, they would take it.”

Many gangs fought on the streets of Birmingham, including groups like Whitehouse Street, the Aston Sloggers, and the Ten Arches. The lines between gangs were sometimes blurry, as they teamed up to take on rivals.

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According to Professor Carl Chinn, many of these gangs eventually earned the nickname Peaky Blinders. And in 1886, hundreds of gang members clashed in Rocky Lane, Birmingham. They fought with belts and bricks, requiring a full mobilization of the police to stop them. The Peaky Blinders weren’t the only ones who dressed up in Victorian Birmingham. Their girlfriends also followed the gang’s lead by wearing expensive, tailored clothing. As historian Philip Gooderson relates, the girlfriends often wore pearls and imitated their boyfriends by wearing silk handkerchiefs. But their lavish outfits couldn’t always hide the marks of domestic abuse. As one woman said, “He’ll pinch and punch you every time he walks out with you. And if you speak to another chap, he doesn’t mind kicking you.”

If you thought their violence against others was bad, the fights between themselves were even worse. Knight’s uncle said (via The Mirror) that in one fight between two Peaky Blinders: “They didn’t care about each other’s eyes, ears, throats. They were like dogs fighting.”

So, You don’t fuck with the Peaky Blinders.

via: Ranker,  digital spy

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