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The Real Peaky Blinders

Surely we've all heard of the show "Peaky Blinders", if not already watched it, right? Well, I got curious after watching the show and decided to do some research on the real gang of Peaky Blinders. I must warn you beforehand, the show and the reality have quite some differences. Now, why don't we dive into the history behind our favorite TV show gang?


*WARNING: Contains mild spoilers*


Peaky Blinders were a real street gang in Small Heath, Birmingham- same as in the show. And just like in the show, their signature items were their overcoats and peaked flat caps. As the fans of the show would know, their signature weapon was their razor blades sewn in their caps. That's where they got their name from. But Birmingham historian Carl Chinn says the hidden razor blades couldn't be true because disposable razor blades were new and luxurious at the time. Therefore, a street gang without much money like the Peaky Blinders couldn't have afforded them. Instead, there are a few other theories on where they may have gotten their name from. The most common one is that the "peaky" part comes from their peaked flat caps. That's what the people called those type of caps back then. And the "blinder" part comes from the local slang term used in Birmingham- still used today- which means "something or someone of dapper appearance". So yeah, there it is folks, no razor blades to blind their enemies. How disappointing, right?


Peaky Blinders' activities were the same in real life as in the show: robbery, violence, illegal bookmaking, gambling, etc. But unfortunately, they weren't as successful as the show portrayed them to be. Not even close, actually. They were founded in the late 1880s and were only active until the 1910s. They dominated Birmingham for nearly 20 years and expanded into racecourses which were like the currency of power amongst the gangs in England at that time. But this growth in strength drew the attention of a larger gang: the "Birmingham Boys" led by Billy Kimber- yes, the one in the show. So, to get rid of the threat, the Birmingham Boys overthrew the Peaky Blinders unlike in the series. And that was the end of the Peaky Blinders' reign. No Thomas Shelby to shoot Billy Kimber in the head. Well, there was no Shelby family in real life altogether, actually.


There are only a few notorious members of the Peaky Blinders known today. For example, Thomas Gilbert. He was the most powerful member of the gang. Many members fought in the First World War. The show got that one right, too. And what's interesting is many sources claim that Billy Kimber himself may once have been a Peaky Blinder!



Some other characters from the show were also real; like the Sabini gang which later overthrew the Birmingham Boys and gained political control over England in reality, Oswald and Diana Mosley who were important political figures during their time and led the British Union of Fascists and Alfie Solomons who was actually a man named Alfred Solomon leading a gang named "the Yiddishers" in Camden Town.


Although the Peaky Blinders weren't as legendary in real life, the show still has our hearts. And now, by order of the Peaky Blinders, we come to an end on the history of the real Peaky Blinders!

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