In the late 19th century, Birmingham was a nightmare of a city. Rife with robberies, theft, riots, and murders, the city was ruled by ruthless gangs and shaped by their rivalries.

Birmingham’s streets were the main stage of recurrent mass brawls to death. Many active gang members were young men, always looking for trouble and ready for bloody fights.

The police did what they could to maintain order and take control of the fearful living conditions, but their number was no match to the long-stretched arms of the gangs.

Among the most powerful gangs during those days were the Sloggers and their most bitter rival, the violent Peaky Blinders. 

Unlike most petty criminals, the Peaky Blinders were almost always well-dressed, presenting themselves to the public as classy members of society.

Silk scarf and bell-bottom trousers became their signature outfit, but appearance could be misleading.

Bladed flat caps were their weapon of choice, a terror disguised in fashion sense.

Although the history of Peaky Blinders and their most notorious members are now mostly forgotten, their tales will forever be parts of Birmingham’s legends.

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10 /10 The TV Series

For some reason, the combination of guns and sensuality makes for a good TV series. Add that with guns and violence; you’ll end up with a riveting show.

Peaky Blinders, a hit BBC crime drama, cramps all those engrossing elements into every single episode.

Charismatic performances and stylish cinematography helped the series win the BAFTA Television Awards for Best Drama Series and BAFTA Television Craft Awards for Best Director, among others.

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9 /10 Birmingham's Inner City

Despite concern about the series’ inaccuracy in its depictions of actual historical figures, Peaky Blinders has sparked some serious interest in the history of Birmingham, England, during the late 19th century.

or a long bleak period throughout the 1870s, Birmingham was nothing more than just a massive congregation of overcrowded slums.

Poverty was everywhere, and criminals took the chance to erupt violence across the streets.

Gangs were the true rulers of the city, establishing their power the only way they knew: mass brawls.






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8 /10 Postcode Wars

A mass brawl to defend and protect a territory often lasted for hours. Hundreds of young men fought each other – often to the death – for whatever advantage they could gain from winning.

Small Heath and Cheapside were ripe for the taking. One of Birmingham’s fearsome gangs was the Sloggers, with John Adrian at the helm.

Their weapon of choice was a reinforced buckled belt. Adrian was the undisputed owner of Birmingham city’s streets for 30 years until the Peaky Blinders came to the scene.

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7 /10 Razor Blades

In the TV series, Peaky Blinders are depicted to use a specially-made flat cap with razor blades attached to the peak. Some say the unique weapon was what gave the gang its name.

Legend has it that the gang would render their victims blind by head-butting them; the razor blades would also quickly cut off ears and noses here and there.

Many rival gangs emerged at that point, but Peaky Blinders was among the few capable of some actual violence to challenge the supremacy of the Sloggers.

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6 /10 As Stylish As Violent

The Peaky Blinders only had one category of victim: the vulnerable. It did not matter if someone was young, old, poor, rich, man, woman, or even a child.

Anybody who didn’t appear to be strong enough to fight back was marked as a target. Unlike most gangs, the Peaky Blinders had some sort of dress code.

All members must be as stylish as they were violent. They wore silk scarves, bell-bottom trousers, and bladed caps.

The elegant look was part of their attempt to give a classy look to the gangsters’ lives.

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5 /10 Mere Myth

Some historians have doubts about the name’s origin for two reasons. First, “peaky” was a common nickname for a popular peaked flat cap model.

Second, razor blades were still a new invention and were considered luxury items.

The idea of gang members using razor blades as seemingly disposable weapons was unlikely at best.

The argument also makes sense because a weaponized flat cap would be difficult to use, especially when the razor was sewn into the soft part of the cap.

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4 /10 Distinctive Gang

The Peaky Blinders were easily set apart from most other gangs thanks to their stylish look.

At the same time, their victims might not recognize them as gang members just from appearance alone.

They didn’t look like criminals until they struck a victim. Soon enough, the style became a distinctive feature in the slums of Birmingham, a significant type to announce the presence of a real threat.

The purpose was recognizability, and they achieved it without breaking a sweat.

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3 /10 The Girlfriends

Many (if not most) active members of the Peaky Blinders were men. That said, it didn’t mean their girlfriends were allowed to appear in public less recognizably.

Gang members’ girlfriends had well-developed fringe covering the entire forehead, sometimes below the eyebrows. Silk handkerchiefs covered their throats.

They displayed a generous amount of pearls everywhere they went. The men were violent towards their girlfriends, too.

Pinching and punching the girls in public was not particularly unusual. If the girl spoke with another man, the gang member would kick her.

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2 /10 Prominent Members

Some of the most prominent members/leaders of the Peaky Blinders were Harry Fowler, Stephen McHickie, Thomas Gilbert, and Ernest Bayles.

Surprisingly, those notorious members were all baby-faced, as seen in their mug shots. An innocent look is a stark contrast to their lifestyle.

Everything written in their criminal record would barely touch the surface of their profanity.

Bayles and Fowler, for example, were booked for bicycle theft; McHickie was charged with home invasion of a draper’s shop. The violence in the streets didn’t even make it into the records.

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1 /10 A Decline

During the early 20th century, many families moved out of the inner city of Birmingham to look for a better place to live and raise their kids.

By then, the Peaky Blinders had already ruled the streets for decades. Areas such as Small Heath also expanded, which extended the distance between rival gangs.

Violence was on the decline, and so was the power of the gangs. Over time, the gang itself seemed to dissolve into nothing. However, their tales of debauchery and lawlessness are still deeply engraved into the city’s folklore.

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