11 October 2022

What happened to the real-life gang of Peaky Blinders

If you’re a fan of Steven Knight’s Peaky Blinders, don’t miss the chance to enjoy the story of Tommy Shelby and his family at the theatre. Peaky Blinders: The Redemption of Thomas Shelby is a show created by Steven Knight and directed by Benoit Swan Pouffer, dramatizing the story of Tommy and Grace through music and dance. Opening in the trenches before whisking you into the alleys and slums of Birmingham’s Small Heath district, this dazzling Peaky Blinders production is sure to captivate fans of the series.

Those who have followed the story of Tommy and the gang will likely know that the Peaky Blinders on our screens were based on a real gang of the same name. But where did the real Peaky Blinders come from, and what happened to them?


The Peaky Blinders formed in response to the poor living conditions and economic hardships that dominated England during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Boys and young men would take up pickpocketing, mugging and other criminal acts as a way of earning money in a world where job prospects were poor and deprivation ruled.

The Peaky Blinders’ activities were first documented in a newspaper in March 1890, where a brutal assault was described. Their actions escalated from theft and assault to organised ‘land grabs’, where gangs took control of specific areas and paid prominent officials to turn a blind eye to their dealings. They bribed members of the police force, courts and more, and used violence to reach a point where they exercised enormous control over areas of Birmingham.


At the peak of their power, the Peaky Blinders were engaged in a range of criminal activities, including smuggling, robbery, bribery, formation of protection rackets, fraud and hijacking. For some twenty years they dominated the scene in Birmingham, exercising their will. It was during this time that they adopted the famous uniform of peaked caps, leather boots, tailored jackets and waistcoats.


When the Peaky Blinders’ territory moved into racecourses, the violence between them and rival gangs escalated. As a consequence, the members’ families moved away from the main concentration of activity in central Birmingham, preferring to live more quietly in the countryside. Unlike the gang of the TV series, the Peaky Blinders had faded into obscurity by the 1920s. The outbreak of the Great War undoubtedly had an impact on their dominance, and over time, the gang was usurped by Billy Kimber’s Birmingham Boys, who in turn were ousted from power by the Sabini gang in the 1930s.

If you’re looking for a dramatic and enthralling alternative to a standard crime play, don’t miss Peaky Blinders: The Redemption of Thomas Shelby, now at the Troubadour Wembley Park Theatre. With athletic dance and stunning dramatization, plus an iconic Peaky Blinders soundtrack and live band, this is a theatrical spectacle like no other. Book your tickets today!