Stylish and dark, the BBC series the ‘Peaky Blinders’ is set in the backstreets of Birmingham after the First World War and tells of the rise to power of Thomas Shelby and his criminal gang. Yet the real stories behind these fictional characters are just as dramatic, bloody and compelling as the TV series.
Thomas Shelby’s arch enemy Billy Kimber was in real life a Brummie from Summer Lane. He was a feared fighter with an astute mind and magnetic personality which earned him the leadership of the Birmingham Gang that dominated the highly profitable protection rackets of the racecourses of England.
The members of this gang had once been ‘sloggers’ or ‘peaky blinders’ and their rise to supremacy was attributable to their viciousness and to Kimber’s shrewd alliances with other gangs. But they soon incurred the envy of the Sabini Gang of London who fought violently to oust Kimber and his men and take over their rackets. The Birmingham Gang battled back fiercely in the infamous and blood-stained racecourse wars of the 1920s.
This Birmingham Gang led by Billy Kimber were the Real Peaky Blinders and this is their story.