A BBC television drama series called Peaky Blinders, starring Cillian Murphy, about a gang based in Small Heath, in post-First World War Birmingham aired in October 2013; a second sesson aired in 2014, and a third one in 2015.
The Peaky Blinders were a criminal gang based in Birmingham, England, in the late 19th century and to a lesser extent, in the early 20th century. They were one of the many urban youth gangs in the era, which were among the earliest of modern street subcultures.
According to Carl Chinn, the name Peaky Blinders is popularly said to derive from the practice of stitching razor blades into the peak of their flat caps, which could then be used as weapons. Chinn describes this as an unrealistic scenario, and says a more mundane explanation is that "peakys" was a common nickname for popular flat caps with peaks. The gangs were known to have a distinctive clothing style, wearing the peaked caps, cravats and bell-bottom trousers, while "a line of brass buttons down the front gave added distinction". Their style of dress was similar to that of the Manchester-based gangs of the same period known as Scuttlers.
Whether the Peaky Blinders were a single gang or a local Birmingham term for a form of violent youth subculture is debated. Eric Moonman states that, in Birmingham, youth street-gangs were known as "Peaky Blinders" or as "Sloggers". Paul Thompson writes that "These gangs would attack a drunkard and ‘probably leave him insensible in the gutter. If they cannot trip a man or knock him down, they kick or use the buckles of belts…. They will use knife, poker, fork or anything.'"
Philip Gooderson, author of The Gangs of Birmingham, states that the Peaky Blinders originated as one gang but the term later became generic. An earlier gang known as the Cheapside Sloggers had evolved in the 1870s and the term "Sloggers" (meaning fighters) had already become an eponym for street gangs, when the Peaky Blinders emerged at the end of the century in Adderley Street, in the Bordesley and Small Heath areas, which was an extremely deprived slum section of Birmingham. The Peaky Blinders were distinguished by their sartorial style, unlike earlier gangs. Notable members included David Taylor (imprisoned for carrying a gun at 13 years old), "baby-faced" Harry Fowles, Ernest Haynes and Stephen McNickle.
Girlfriends of gang members also had a distinctive style: "lavish display of pearls, the well-developed fringe obscuring the whole of the forehead and descending nearly to the eyes, and the characteristic gaudy-coloured silk handkerchief covering her throat." Members were allegedly often violent towards girlfriends, one of whom commented: "He'll pinch and punch you every time he walks out with you. And if you speak to another chap, he don't mind kicking you."