With the Peaky Blinders movie currently being shot and a release date looming, talk about the gang from Birmingham is on the rise again. Known for its incredible cinematography and influences by real events, Peaky Blinders grips audiences all over the world.

Today we’re going to take a look at the real story behind the TV show – including their involvement in illegal bookmaking. If you’re in the mood for some gambling after reading this interesting history, take a look at this lottoland India review for a closer look at one of the best lotto sites in India.

Britain in the 20’s

The story of the nefarious Peaky Blinders gang starts just after the Great War. The aftereffects of the war caused Britain to impose a lot of restrictions thanks to the cost of taking part in the war. One of the cities that was hit the hardest during WWI economically was Birmingham – so much so that the then Prime Minister for Great Britain, David Lloyd Geroge – commented that the world owes a debt of gratitude to Birmingham!

The Tv series Peaky Blinders starts off in this period. The real Peaky Blinders dates back further than this though, with historical evidence showing they were around in the 19th century. But it was post-war Britain that saw the real rise of the gang.

Over 150,000 people from Birmingham were lost during the war and this had driven the city into a state of turmoil. A slew of different gangs appeared and they would often run around the city itself fighting wars for territories – they equipped themselves with hammers, knives, hatchets and even guns. This was all just for their own survival. The city had scarce resources, including food.

The Peaky Blinders

The Peaky Blinders were just one of the gangs to be roaming the streets of Birmingham during this time. They were the most infamous in the city though, sparking plenty of turf wars. These were mainly over the racecourses and even resulted in a few mass brawls breaking out.

Unlike these rival gangs though, the Peaky Blinders were a gang with style. They were always well dressed, wearing classy attire of the time and donned their notorious flat caps. It was these flat caps that gave the gang their name. They would tie razor blades to the rim and use these weaponised hats to attack opponents – namely their eyes. Hence, The ‘Peaky Blinders’.

Thankfully, the industrial boom that followed this post-war depression saw the gangs disperse from the center of Birmingham and the violence slowly faded out. This led to a natural end to the gang as well as the other gang occupying Birmingham. Unlike the TV Show, the peaky Blinders didn’t gun down Billy Kimber in the street – he died in a nursing home after becoming a legitimate businessman!

The Illegal Bookmaking Business

One aspect the TV show stays extremely true to though is the illegal betting and bookmaking that the gang takes part in. Britain imposed a gambling act in 1845 that prohibited all gambling except at race courses, so these became a huge center of money.

Thanks to this money, plenty of gangs wanted to get in on the action. They either bullied their way into the legal gambling racket or started their own illegal betting spots. Gangs would rip off customers and be even brazen enough to rob legal book makers.

Billy Kimber, leader of the Birmingham boys gang, controlled pretty much all of the race courses in the midlands back in the 1920s. He was actually who the Character Thomas Shelby from the Peaky Blinders TV show was based on. He was far more interesting than the real Thomas Shelby!


The Peaky Blinders TV show obviously uses some creative flair to make things a bit more interesting than fact. But one thing they don’t really take liberty on is the illegal gambling that was taking place during the period and the huge role gangs had in that. With the new film coming out soon, maybe it’ll make our picks of the month.