Peaky Blinders Walk

Peaky Blinders Walk

This fascinating 5km (3 mile) circular walk takes you around some of the Birmingham sights mentioned in the Peaky Blinders TV series, as well as giving you some of the real Peaky Blinders history. We have also marked on the map the locations of some other key historic locations, but as most of these are a little further out of the city centre they don’t form part of the walk.

Click here to populate this route in Google Maps.
Route overview of the Peaky Blinders Walk

Route overview

The walk starts from the Custard Factory (map point 1 below).

Part 1 of the Peaky Blinders Walk starting at the Custard Factory

Part 1 of the Peaky Blinders Walk

Peaky Blinders series cover

Peaky Blinders

The Peaky Blinders were an urban street gang based in Birmingham, that operated from the end of the 19th century, and after the First World War. The group, which grew out of the harsh economic deprivations of working-class Britain, was composed largely of young unemployed men. They derived social power from robbery, violence, political influence, and the control of gambling. Members of this gang wore a signature outfit that included tailored jackets, lapel overcoats, button waistcoats, silk scarves, bell-bottom trousers, leather boots, and peaked flat caps. The gang was highly organised with its own systems of hierarchy.

The Blinders’ dominance came about from beating rivals such as the “Sloggers” whom they fought for territory in Birmingham and its surrounding districts. They held control for nearly twenty years until 1910 when a larger gang, the Birmingham Boys led by Billy Kimber, overtook them. However, even though they had disappeared by the 1930s, their name the “Peaky Blinders” became synonymous as slang for any street gang in Birmingham.

The popular origin of the name Peaky Blinder is said to be derived from the practice of gang members stitching disposable razor blades into the peaks of their flat caps which could then be used as weapons. However, as the Gillette company only introduced the first replaceable safety razor system in 1903 in America, and it was not until 1908 that the first factory manufacturing them in Great Britain opened, this version of the name is considered questionable. Birmingham historian Carl Chinn believes the name is actually a reference to the gang’s sartorial elegance. He says the popular usage of “peaky” at the time referred to any flat cap with a peak. “Blinder” was a familiar Birmingham slang term (still used today) to describe something or someone of dapper appearance. A further explanation might be from the gang’s own criminal behaviour. They were known to sneak up from behind then pull the hat peak down over a victim’s face so they could not describe who robbed them.

"Peaky Blinders The Real Story" book by Carl Chinn

“Peaky Blinders The Real Story” book by Carl Chinn

For a bit of fun and to get you feeling like a proper Brummie (someone from Birmingham), watch the Youtube sensation “Korean Billy” teach you how to speak Brummie (the Birmingham dialect) in the following Youtube video (please make sure you are using wifi or have unlimited data!):

And watch some of the cast of the Peaky Blinders TV show try to guess some Brummie slang meanings in this YouTube video (please make sure you are using wifi or have unlimited data!):

The Custard Factory is set in 15 acres of beautifully restored Victorian Factories and is the heart of Birmingham’s buzzing creative and digital district, home to many independent shops, cafes, bars, restaurants and the Mockingbird Cinema. In 1837, Alfred Bird, a chemist and druggist, invented instant, eggless custard powder to accommodate his wife’s allergy to eggs. When he accidentally served it to guests, he realised the commercial potential of his concoction. They loved it. Alfred and Sons was born and Custard Factory was built by Alfie Bird to produce Bird’s Custard in 1906. It would have been here during the time of The Peaky Blinders!

Exit from The Custard Factory area onto B4100 Digbeth High Street and turn left to walk along the pavement until you reach The Rainbow Pub (map point 2).

The Rainbow Pub is the location for an incident that was the first known mention of the real Peaky Blinders gang in 1890. Here is some information from Carl Chinn, one of Birmingham’s best experts on the real Peaky Blinders, given in an interview to The Birmingham Mail.

 An old photo of the Rainbow Pub

The Rainbow Pub

“An ‘inoffensive chap’ called George Eastwood had been drinking in the Rainbow pub on the corner of High Street, Deritend and Adderley Street. The teetotaller was picked on by three hard men on the evening of March 23, 1890 – and all because he had a non-alcoholic drink. There is a bit of a row, but it dies down. Later, at about 11pm, George decides to go home. The hard men had already gone, so he must have thought it was safe – but as he was walking underneath the Adderley Street viaduct, he hears them shouting at him and then they brutally assault him under one of these two viaducts. One on the attackers was a chap called Thomas Mucklow, another was called Groom. The identity of the third man is still unknown. Groom punched George before they all started kicking with their boots along the street. And then Groom took off his heavy leather belt – these had thick brass buckles and they would wrap it around their wrist and leave about eight inches free, buckle it together and they would slash! Poor old George took so many beatings from the belt and the kicking and the punch that he was in hospital for three weeks. On the Monday night, the Birmingham Mail reported that this brutal assault was carried out by the gang of Peaky Blinders. It was the first time – March 1890 – that the term ‘Peaky Blinders’ had appeared in print.”

You can watch a short (6 minute) video from History West Midlands about the real Peaky Blinders here. It is narrated by Birmingham historian Dr Carl Chinn (please make sure you are using wifi or have unlimited data):

Part 2 of the Peaky Blinders Walk through Bullring and passed St Martin's Church

Part 2 of the Peaky Blinders Walk

From The Rainbow Pub walk back down B4100 Digbeth High Street until you reach the pedestrian crossing lights by St Martin in the Bullring Church. Cross over here to walk round the church to the front entrance (map point 3).

The present Victorian Church of St Martin in the Bull Ring, built in 1873, sits on the site of its 13th-century predecessor, which dated back to 1263. In the South Transept you can see a Burne-Jones window which was made by William Morris in 1875. It was taken away for safe keeping one day before a World War II bomb dropped next to the church on 10 April 1941, destroying all of the remaining windows. The floor tiles are Victorian ones by Minton and display the coat of arms of the de Bermingham family. Do you think the Peaky Blinders ever set foot in here!?

Bull Ring with St Martin's Church in the background

Bull Ring

The Bull Ring

In Series 1 Episode 6 of the TV show, the Peaky Blinders women joined a march to The Bullring! You can find out more about the history of the real women behind The Peaky Blinders on this YouTube video  (please make sure you are using wifi or have unlimited data!): 

The Bullring is a major shopping area in central Birmingham. The market began in 1154 when Peter de Bermingham, a local landowner, obtained a Charter of Marketing Rights from King Henry II. Initially called Corn Cheaping (because of a corn market on the site), the name Bull Ring has nothing to do with Spanish bull-fighting, but referred to an area that was used for bullbaiting. The ‘ring’ was a hoop of iron in Corn Cheaping to which bulls were tied for baiting before slaughter. Today though there are over 200 shops and restaurants to tempt you.

Selfridges at Bullring

Selfridges at Bullring

The Selfridges Department Store is a landmark building forming part of the Bullring Shopping Centre. Completed in 2003 at a cost of £60 million, it was designed by architecture firm Future Systems. It’s steel framework and sprayed concrete facade is covered by 15,000 anodised aluminium discs. It is such an iconic design, it was even included as a desktop background in Windows 7!

The Rotunda is a cylindrical highrise Grade II listed building. Completed in 1965, the building’s construction was unique at the time, being mostly built at ground floor level then ‘jacked up’ one floor at a time (possibly due to the lack of construction space). The supports for the hydraulic pumps used to jack up the building started to shift towards New Street Station railway lines so the building’s planned height was never completed.

From the front entrance of the church, walk up the steps opposite (or take the ramp that goes from left to right around the back of the restaurants) to head up past the entrances on your left and right into the Bullring shopping centre, towards High Street and the world’s largest Primark store (map point 4) – this definitely was NOT here when the Peaky Blinders were!

Part 3 of the Peaky Blinders Walk onto Corporation Street passed Rackhams and St Philip's Church to Colmore Row

Part 3 of the Peaky Blinders Walk

Walk past Primark and turn left into Union Street. Walk up Union Street until you come to Corporation Street with the tram lines. Opposite you will be House of Fraser department store, which used to be called Rackhams (map point 5).

Rackhams was mentioned in Series 1 Episode 4 of The Peaky Blinders. Rackhams as a company ran from 1881 to 1955. The seeds were sown when, in 1851, William Winter Riddell and Henry Wilkinson opened a drapery shop at 78 Bull street, Birmingham, with a wholesale branch in Temple Row opening in 1863. John Rackham began there as an apprentice in 1861, became a floor walker in 1869 and a dress buyer by 1878. In 1881, the management of the retail business was transferred to John Rackham and William Matthews, a linen buyer who had started as an apprentice at the same time. Soon after that, the two managers bought the store from the original owners and it then took the name Rackham & Co. Rackham & Co extended into the North Western Arcade and in 1926, the Temple Row building underwent a huge expansion. But a third of the store was destroyed by a direct hit from a wartime bomb in 1940. In 1955, Harrods bought Rackhams and in 1959 Harrods was itself taken over by House of Fraser.

You can find out more about the history of the real clothing of The Peaky Blinders on this video. They may well have purchased some of their clothes from Rackhams! (please make sure you are using wifi or have unlimited data!)

In Birmingham slang, the expression ‘back of Rackhams’ referred to a red-light spot that was supposedly somewhere behind the store. Brummies would say such things as ‘I’ll end up at the back of Rackhams’ if short of cash or ‘They’ll have me at the back of Rackhams’ when criticising financial demands from their family, jokingly meaning they’d be forced into prostitution to pay for everything! Or they might say ‘She’ll be at the back of Rackhams’ if gossiping about someone they were accusing of being promiscuous.

Have a look around Rackhams (House of Fraser), and from the “back of Rackhams” overlooking Cathedral Square turn right along Temple Row then left into Great Western Arcade.

Great Western Arcade with lots of shopping options

Great Western Arcade

Great Western Arcade was built by the Great Western Company in 1876-1877 to span a tunnel for the railway line between Moor St and Snow Hill stations. W.H. Ward designed the Arcade and was strongly influenced by Joseph Paxton’s pioneering Great Exhibition at Crystal Palace in 1851. The roof was originally a glazed semi-circular barrel vault with a glazed central dome, similar to that of the Gallerio Vittoria Emmanuele in Milan which was constructed at the same time. Having sustained bomb damage in World War 2, the entrance at Colmore Row was rebuilt to a different style and the original roof was replaced by an apexed one. The plaster mouldings above the doors on the balcony remain, adding to its original splendour, and the stone masonry on Temple Row is still in good order and remains a focal point of interest with both tourists and students.

At the far end of the Great Western Arcade, you will see on the other side of the road the entrance to Snow Hill Station (map point 6) that was mentioned in Series 3 Episode 1 of The Peaky Blinders.

Snow Hill Station, Birmingham

Snow Hill Station, Birmingham

Snow Hill Station:

The station has been rebuilt several times since the first station here, a temporary wooden structure, was opened in 1852. It was rebuilt as a permanent station in 1871, and then rebuilt again on a much grander scale during 1906-1912 (picture above). The Peaky Blinders may well have used this station on their trips down to London! The station as was closed in 1972, and was demolished five years later, though many parts of the building and machinery are believed to be buried underneath the current station and car park! After fifteen years of closure a new Snow Hill station, the present incarnation, was built and opened in 1987.

Turn left out of the Great Western Arcade to walk along Colmore Row, past the Cathedral Church of Saint Philip on your left (map point 7).

St Philip's Cathedral Birmingham

St Philip’s Cathedral Birmingham

The Cathedral Church of Saint Philip is a Church of England cathedral and the seat of the Bishop of Birmingham. Built in 1715, it is Grade I listed and the third smallest cathedral in England after Derby and Chelmsford. During the Second World War, the cathedral was bombed on the 7 November 1940. Its most significant treasures, the inspiring stained-glass windows by Edward Burne-Jones, had been removed early in the war to be replaced, unharmed, when the building was restored in 1948.

Part 4 of the Peaky Blinders Walk passing Victoria Square, The Council House and the Town Hall

Part 4 of the Peaky Blinders Walk

Keep going until you reach Victoria Square (map point 8) in front of The Council House and with The Town Hall (looks a bit like a Greek Temple!) straight ahead of you.

Birmingham Town Hall

Birmingham Town Hall

Birmingham Town Hall was mentioned in Series 4 Episode 4 of the TV show as a “rather beautiful building”. The Grade I listed Town Hall is now one of the oldest concert halls in the world, and has been at the centre of Birmingham’s cultural life since it opened in 1834. Charles Dickens gave his first public reading of A Christmas Carol on Town Hall’s stage, Mendelssohn’s Elijah and Elgar’s The Dream of Gerontius received their premieres in the hall, and in the 1950s to 1970s the venue played host to many of the biggest names in popular music such as Led Zeppelin, Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry and the Beatles.

Recognised as one of the most impressive examples of Roman Revival civic architecture, the style of Town Hall is based upon the Roman Temple of Castor and Pollux. It was designed by Joseph Aloyisus Hansom, who is better known as the creator of the famous ‘Hansom cab’. Naively agreeing to underwrite the cost of the project resulted in the bankruptcy and financial ruin of the 27-year-old.

Built in a period when Birmingham rallied at the forefront of the protests for national democratic reform, Town Hall provided citizens with a forum for political debate as well as an important symbol of their, and the town’s, purpose and aspirations. It was the meeting place for local government until the Council House opened in the 1870s, Town Hall continued as a forum for debate and speech-making through the 20th century. Since its opening, practically every prime minister and politician of note has spoken there; with notable speakers including Joseph Chamberlain, William Gladstone, David Lloyd George, Neville Chamberlain, Clement Atlee, Neil Kinnock and Margaret Thatcher.

Next to The Town Hall, Birmingham City Council House was built between 1874 and 1879, designed by Yeoville Thomason. It is now a Grade II listed building, used for all Council and most Committee meetings. The front, facing Victoria Square, has a pediment showing Britannia receiving the manufacturers of Birmingham.

Part 5 of the Peaky Blinders Walk towards the Hall of Memory, Library of Birmingham, Centenary Square, and the Birmingham Rep Theatre

Part 5 of the Peaky Blinders Walk

Take the pedestrian route between the Council House and the Town Hall, through the new Paradise developments, heading towards the Hall of Memory (map point 9), the new Birmingham Library (map point 10), the Birmingham Rep Theatre and the newly refurbished Centenary Square.

Library of Birmingham. Credit: Tony Hisgett

Library of Birmingham. Credit: Tony Hisgett

The Hall of Memory in Centenary Square(map point 9) is a Grade I listed war memorial erected in 1922–25 to commemorate the 12,320 Birmingham citizens who died in World War I. The four statues around the exterior are by local artist Albert Toft and represent the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, and Women’s Services.

The Library of Birmingham (map point 10) is the largest public library in the United Kingdom, the largest public cultural space in Europe and the largest regional library in Europe. Nearly 2.5 million visitors came to the library in 2014 making it the 10th most popular visitor attraction in the UK. The library has nationally and internationally significant collections, including the Shakespeare Memorial Room, located right at the top of the new building. This was originally designed in 1882 by John Henry Chamberlain for the first Central Library and houses Britain’s most important Shakespeare collection, and one of the two most important Shakespeare collections in the world. Also found in this library is The Boulton and Watt Collection, an archive of the steam engine partnership of Matthew Boulton and James Watt, dating from 1774 until the firm’s closure in the 1890s. The archive comprises about 550 volumes of letters, books, order books and account books, approximately 29,000 engine drawings and upwards of 20,000 letters received from customers.

Centenary Square, Birmingham

Centenary Square, Birmingham

Continue past the Rep theatre and into the International Convention Centre (ICC) (map point 11).

The International Convention Centre (ICC) is a major conference venue which also incorporates Symphony Hall. In 1998, the ICC was chosen to host the G8 Summit and welcomed the presidents of the leading eight global nations including Tony Blair and Bill Clinton. Symphony Hall was opened by the Queen in June 1991. It is widely considered one of the finest concert halls in the world due to its innovative acoustic flexibility. It has a reverberation chamber behind the stage and extending high along the sides, adding an incredible 50% to the hall’s volume. There is an acoustic canopy which can be raised or lowered above the stage and dampening panels can be extended or retracted to ensure that the ‘sound’ of the space is perfectly matched to the scale and style of the music to be performed.

Inside the International Convention Centre

International Convention Centre

Exit the other side of the ICC onto the canal. Cross the bridge over the canal straight ahead of you, and you will be in Brindley Place (map point 12).

At the height of Birmingham’s industrial past, the area of Brindley Place was full of factories. But by the 1970’s, with Britain’s manufacturing in decline, the factories closed and the area lay derelict. Today, over 8,500 people work in Brindleyplace for some of the UK’s leading businesses, and it is a thriving and vibrant location both daytime and evening. In addition to shops, bars and restaurants, Brindleyplace is home to the National Sea Life Centre, Ikon Gallery of art and the Crescent Theatre. The Birmingham Canal Navigations Main Line Canal separates Brindleyplace from the International Convention Centre, although there are linking bridges. The National Indoor Arena, Old Turn Junction and bustling bars of Broad Street are nearby and it is easily accessible and within walking distance of the main bus and rail routes.

Ikon Gallery in Brindley Place

Ikon Gallery

The Ikon Gallery is a gallery of contemporary art. It is housed in the Grade II listed, neo-gothic former Oozells Street Board School, designed by John Henry Chamberlain in 1877. The gallery programme features artists from around the world. A variety of media is represented, including sound, film, mixed media, photography, painting, sculpture, and installation. It offers free entry to all.

Take a look around this area, but when ready to continue your walk, take the steps down onto the canal towpath from the bridge, and turn right at the bottom of the steps (so the canal will be on your left) to head towards The Mailbox.

After you have walked through the Broad Street tunnel, you will come out into Gas Street Basin (map point 13), mentioned in the very first episode of The Peaky Blinders!

The Canal House, Birmingham canals

Birmingham canals

Gas Street Basin is a canal basin in the centre of Birmingham, England, where the Worcester and Birmingham Canal meets the BCN Main Line. The Birmingham Canal, completed in 1773, terminated at Old Wharf beyond Bridge Street. When the Worcester and Birmingham Company started their canal at a point later known as Gas Street Basin the Birmingham Canal Navigations Company (BCN) insisted on a physical barrier to prevent the Worcester and Birmingham Canal from benefiting from their water. The Worcester Bar, a 7-foot-3-inch-wide (2.21 m) straight barrier 84 yards (77 m) long was built perpendicular to the run of the two canals. Cargoes had to be laboriously manhandled between boats on either side.

During the 1990s much of the area around the basin was redeveloped and older buildings refurbished. The wall and ramp down from Gas Street, the Tap and Spile pub, and the neighbouring building are all grade II listed, as is the Martin & Chamberlain building built on top of the Broad Street Tunnel.

In 1973, the basin featured prominently in the Cliff Richard film Take Me High. A canal-side cottage there was used as the home of a character in the long-running soap opera Crossroads.

Part 6 of the Peaky Blinders Walk passed the Gas Street Basin behind The Cube and The Mailbox

Part 6 of the Peaky Blinders Walk

Continue along the canal past Gas Street Basin and over the metal bridge (why not leave a Virtual Lovelock here) to the back of The Cube and The Mailbox (map point 14). Turn left to go into The Mailbox and follow the pathway through the building past the restaurants and shops, to exit out the front of the building.

The Mailbox Birmingham

The Mailbox Birmingham

The Mailbox opened in 1998 and was the redevelopment of the massive former Royal Mail sorting office. It serves as the base for BBC Birmingham and houses one of six Harvey Nichols department stores in the UK. The Cube development at the back of The Mailbox houses retail, hotel, spa and residential – and a 25th floor restaurant overlooking the city.

Part 7 of the Peaky Blinders Walk down Navigation Street to Grand Central walking through Piccadilly Arcade and passing the Burlington Hotel

Part 7 of the Peaky Blinders Walk

Walk down the steps at the front of The Mailbox and head slightly left to go underneath the main road ahead of you. Walk ahead along Navigation Street until you get to the corner entrance of New Street Train Station / Grand Central (map point 15). Continue ahead to walk through Piccadilly Arcade and out onto New Street, one of the main pedestrianised shopping streets in Birmingham. Turn right to walk along New Street and you will pass what is now called The Burlington Hotel on your right (map point 16), but that used to be The Midland Hotel and was referenced in Season 4 Episode 1 of The Peaky Blinders.

The inside of the Burlington Hotel, Birmingham at Christmas

Burlington Hotel, Birmingham

This hotel occupies the former grade II listed Midland Bank building, designed by Edward Holmes and built between 1867 and 1869. The lettering of the Midland Hotel is still visible on the rear of the building fronting Stephenson Street. Beatle George Harrison and comedy film legends Laurel and Hardy are among the guests who have graced the hotel’s rooms but the building is often famously associated with the infamous Enoch Powell ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech in 1968. The hotel also serves ‘Birmingham spring water’ from its own unique source – a borehole deep beneath the building where underground tunnels, once used to distribute mail across the city, still exist.

Part 8 of the Peaky Blinders Walk back to start at The Bullring Shopping Centre

Part 8 of the Peaky Blinders Walk

Continue past The Burlington Hotel and cross over the tram lines to continue along New Street until you get back to The Bullring Shopping Centre area where this walk began.

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Other Peaky Blinder Birmingham Location:

Garrison Pub (not on walk)

During the first series, The Garrison was a central point in the Peaky Blinders story, the scene of much mayhem, deal brokering and general plot thickening! It provided the location for the heart and soul of the early days of the TV series and has featured in all of the first five series. It is believed The Garrison Tavern in Small Heath was frequented by the Peaky Blinders at the turn of the 20th century and was a favourite drinking location of the gang. The real The Garrison is located close to the St Andrews football stadium. Before filming for Peaky Blinders started in 2013, Cillian Murphy was taken there by the production crew so he could get a feel for the true Peaky Blinders stomping ground and help perfect his accent! The real Garrison sadly no longer plays host to anything as interesting or glamourous (or as criminal). It sold at auction in 2014 for just £183,000 after it had closed its doors as a pub. There is currently rumour that Stephen Knight, creator of The Peaky Blinders TV Series, intends to buy the pub and resurrect its fortunes again!

Small Heath & Firing Furnaces (not on walk)

The Series: There is no doubt the industrial backdrop of the series, set in 1920s Small Heath gives it a dark, edgy feel, pulled off brilliantly by the production crew. One key element across all series was to see firing furnaces lit up at night during key moments of the show. This was the setting for Charlie Strong’s Small Heath Scrap Metal Yard and the fictional Small Heath shown in the series was central to everything that happened of note in the series.

The History: Historians agree that the industrial areas of Small Heath in Birmingham were key places where the Peaky Blinders would conduct their ‘business’ and was central to their activities. Indeed, as in the series there was once a Charlie Strong scrap yard, and the sites portrayed in the series, including the canal moorings, back to back houses, shops and streets were portrayed loosely on what used to exist in Small Heath.

Today: The area of Small Heath is vastly different from what would have been present early 1900s, largely due to a government initiative to clear ‘slums’ and later the building of major roads. Visiting Small Heath of today gives little away about its’ murky history of street gangs, including the Peaky Blinders.

However, you can still get a real taste for the history of Small Heath and the firing furnaces as much of the Peaky Blinders series has been filmed at the Black Country Living Museum (BCLM) in Dudley, with the Chain Making Shop, Rolling Mill and canals at the museum playing key parts in the filming of Peaky Blinders. This is largely due to the authentic look and feel of the living museum. Almost all scenes representing Small Heath in the TV series have been filmed at the BCLM. Many other key scenes continued to be filmed at the BCLM including Canal Street Bridge, The Back Alley’s and The Workers Institute, with many key scenes from the series taking place in these dimly lit, smoky areas with some clever CGI thrown in for good measure. Did you know, this is even where Thomas Shelby used to send illicit goods to London by canal (at least according to the TV show)?

Why not take yourself along to the Black Country Living Museum (BCLM) and see for yourself, they offer excellent Peaky Blinders Nights! BCLM is considered the home of the Peaky Blinders series and you can read more about some of the filming locations here 

The Gypsy Camp (not on walk)

The Series: Particularly in earlier series the gypsy family the Lees played an important role in the events, with indications lead character Tommy Shelby comes from a gypsy background.

The History: Whilst the Lees are understood to be a fictional gypsy family, there were numerous gypsy families in Birmingham at the time of the Peaky Blinders. One notable gypsy settlement was the area known as The Black Patch in Smethwick which was a large Gypsy camp in the early 1900s. It was a patch of land covered in a deep barren layer of furnace waste, which, after their eviction, was cleared down to grass growing soil to create a park. There is even disputed evidence that Charlie Chaplin was born at The Black Patch! In 1909, thousands of gypsies were forcefully evicted from The Black Patch, and it also the location of the undisputed queen of Romany Gypsies in this country, a lady by the name Henty Smith, wife of Esau Smith who was king of the gypsies.

Today: The Black Patch was actually filmed at Brooke’s Mill, Huddersfield. However, at the real-life Black Patch in Smethwick in 2014 a memorial in honour of the historical gypsy connection and Henty Smith was placed at St Mary’s church closely to The Black Patch, which is where many gypsies were buried in unmarked graves. The Black Patch is now a park which separates Handsworth and Smethwick, and to this day still attracts the occasional gypsy temporary settlement, and it is a famous space within the Romany Gypsy community due to the historical significance.

The rest of the Peaky Blinders has been filmed outside of the West Midlands as Birmingham unfortunately lost much of its industrial past due to war and later development. Manchester, Leeds and Liverpool have played a role in filming many locations, with Liverpool playing an important role in the series, providing many iconic period locations.

The Shelby’s Street – Watery Lane (not on walk)

The Series: In the TV series, the Shelby family all lived along a street known as Watery Lane, where the Shelby HQ was located and their illegal betting offices were located.

The History: Watery Lane is considered to indeed be a place where the Peaky Blinders had a strong presence at the turn of the 20th century. This was a central part of Small Heath and the setting as portrayed in the TV series would loosely resemble that of Watery Lane in Small Heath, circa 1900.

Today: Filming of this street actually took place in Powis Street in Toxteth, Liverpool as it best resembles what Watery Lane would have looked like in the 1920s due to much of pre-war Brum not surviving. The real Watery Lane in Small Heath no longer exists, the only serving reminder being the Manzoni’s Middle Ring road which was driven through the area, and the names survives as Watery Lane Middleway. However, the Peaky Blinders may yet be coming home to film in Brum as their Toxteth fake setting is being revamped, and so the producers are looking for a suitable replacement closer to Birmingham for the fifth series.

Although not much remains of the early 1900s Birmingham around Small Heath and the Peaky Blinders stomping ground, it’s fair to say Birmingham has been given a much needed cool makeover in the eyes of the world and its stock has risen the world over. Although the real Peaky Blinders were not people to look up to due to their dark ways, the series portrays early 20th century Birmingham well. Furthermore, the industrial heritage of the city, which is so prevalent in the grit and story line of the series can still be witnessed across the city today in other forms.

National Trust Back to Backs (not on walk)

The area of Small Heath where the Peaky Blinders originated, was back then an area of back-to-back housing that became slums and were eventually knocked down. Today, an example of what living in these conditions was like exists at The National Trust’s Back to Back museum on Hurst Street in Birmingham City Centre (booking is essential). These carefully restored, atmospheric 19th-century courtyard of working people’s houses give an atmospheric glimpse into the lives of the ordinary people who helped make Birmingham an extraordinary city.

On a fascinating guided tour, you can step back in time at Birmingham’s last surviving court of back to backs; houses built literally back-to-back around a communal courtyard. Moving from the 1840s through to the 1970s, discover the lives of some of the former residents who crammed into these small houses to live and work. With fires alight in the grates, and sounds and smells from the past, experience an evocative and intimate insight into life at the Back to Backs.


If you enjoyed this route, see our Short Green Country Walk

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