What does Peaky Blinders mean and is the BBC series starring Cillian Murphy based on a true story?

PEAKY Blinders has won legions of fans across the globe for their dangerous charm.

The gang of Brummies which the show centres around were, in fact, a real criminal gang. But what does 'Peaky Blinders' mean? Find out below…

What does Peaky Blinders mean?

Peaky Blinders is the name of the Birmingham-based gang.

Their name is said to have come from a practice in which gang members would stitch razor blades into the peak of their flat caps.

In fights, they could then simply use their hats to slash the faces, eyes and foreheads of their enemies.

We see the gang do this frequently in the TV series' fight scenes.

Were the Peaky Blinders real?

In short – yes.

They were a criminal gang based in Birmingham in the late 19th century.

They were one of many urban youth gangs in the era.

It is much debated as to whether the Peaky Blinders were a single gang or a term that referred to a number of violent youths.

Philip Gooderson, the author of The Gangs of Birmingham, states that the Peaky Blinders originated as one gang but the term later became generic.

The Peaky Blinders had a distinguishable dress sense and wore flat caps.

Their girlfriends also had a uniform of sorts, including pearls, a large fringe and a silk handkerchief covering their throats.

Did the gang wear razors in their caps?

Professor Carl Chinn, a historian of Birmingham thinks this is unrealistic.

The real Peaky Blinders gang originated back in the 1890s, but historians have pointed out that disposable razor blades were invented in 1903, making it impossible for the original gang to have hidden them in their caps.

He believes it is more likely that it came from the fact that the peaks are very hard, and would have temporarily blinded someone if they were headbutted by another wearing a cap.

The Birmingham Mail has pointed out that 'Blinder' used to be common Birmingham slang for a well-dressed man, so it seems that this was the real meaning of the term.

Was there a real Thomas Shelby?

Professor Chinn said there was no real Thomas Shelby – Cillian Murphy's character.

None of the names of people previously reported to have been in the real Peaky Blinders' heyday have Shelby as a surname.

Many of the members were very young and do not seem to have actually inspired this character, other than in style.

However, Billy Kimber, a character in the show's first season, was the name of an actual gangster from Birmingham.

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