History of the Peaky Blinders
Before the First World War, several gangs sprang up in the slums of Birmingham. Due to economic hardship, people were robbed and pickpockets became a normality. Assaults, beatings, stabbings and manual strangulation became more and more common. Gangs emerged and continued to expand, becoming increasingly organized. These violent gangs increased their political control and social power. In 1870, the Peaky Blinders gang was founded on the streets of Birmingham. The most powerful member of the Peaky Blinders was known as Kevin Mooney, who regularly changed his name. His real name was Thomas Gilbert. Many of the coups made by the gang were initiated by him. The most violent youth gang organized themselves as a unique group known as the "Peaky Blinders". After some gangsters attacked a man in 1890, they sent a letter to several national newspapers declaring themselves as members of this particular group.
One of the main activities of the Peaky Blinders was to occupy land. particularly the communities of Small Heath and Cheapside, Birmingham.
One of the great rivals of the Peaky Blinders were the Cheapside Sloggers whose name later evolved to "Sloggers" meaning Fighters. This gang was rampant in 1870 when Peaky Blinders showed up in Adderley Street, in the Bordesley and Small Heath areas, an extremely deprived slum area of Birmingham at the time. The Peaky Blinders maintained varying degrees of control over Birmingham for nearly two decades.
In 1899 an Irish Police Commissioner was contracted to enforce local law in Birmingham. However, police corruption and bribery reduced the effectiveness of his enforcement
The Peaky Blinders gang became less active in 1910, when a larger gang, the Birmingham Boys led by Billy Kimber, overtook them.
Clothing style Peaky Blinders
The Peaky Blinders distinguished themselves through their Peaky Blinders clothing style, unlike previous gangs. The members often wore tailored clothes that were not very gang-appropriate. The Peaky Blinders' clothing style could be recognized by a 3-piece suit and a long coat, leather boots, a pocket watch and last but not least the Peaky Blinders Cap. Due to the weather conditions that caused muddy streets in the slums, the leather boots with steel toe caps were also common.
The gang members' wives, girlfriends, and mistresses were known for wearing lavish clothing, such as pearls, silks and colorful scarves.
The name Peaky Blinders
These razor blade caps were used as weapons. The Peaky Blinder members had a cap to blind the enemy. There are also reports that the blades were used to cut off the forehead. So that the enemy was temporarily blinded.
Birmingham historian Carl Chinn believes the name comes solely from the popular use of "peaky" as a distcriptor for a flat cap with a blade.
"Blinder" is a well-known Birmingham term used to this day to describe a neat appearance. (Dazzling someone by means of a striking appearance).
Most famous gang members.
The most prominent members of the gang were David Taylor, Earnest Haynes, Harry Fowles, Stephen McNickle and Thomas Gilbert.
Fowles, known as "Baby-faced Harry", was arrested at the age of 19 for stealing a bicycle in October 1904. McNickle and Haynes were also arrested at the same time for stealing a bicycle and for home invasion. All were held in prison for a month for their crimes. The West Midlands police files described the three arrested as "disgusting young men stalking drunken groups in the streets, abusing and ambushing passers-by." Taylor was arrested at age 13 for carrying a loaded firearm.
End of The Peaky Blinders
After nearly a decade of political scrutiny, their growing influence brought the attention of a larger gang, the Birmingham Boys. The Peaky Blinders' expansion into racecourses led to a violent reaction from the Birmingham gang. Peaky Blinder families have physically distanced themselves from central Birmingham and moved to the countryside. With the Blinders' withdrawal from the criminal underworld, the Sabini gang moved in with the Birmingham Boys gang and solidified political control of Central England in the 1930s.