Chasing the Shelbys - Travelling with the Peaky Blinders

Ryan Duggins | Live the World

November 23, 2022

The first Peaky Blinders festival was hosted this month in Digbeth, an area south of Bi[rmingham city center]( known for an emerging art and culture scene. Fifteen thousand fans enjoyed performances from Liam Gallagher and* Primal Scream*, and almost all dressed in vintage Victorian outfits in-keeping with the era. Local theatre company Dank Parish was able to create the illusion of being in the show, with fake street fights, dance groups, and police officers patrolling the area creating a carnival atmosphere. Fans looking for a real experience were impressed and will be glad to know the event will be a yearly occasion.  

Birmingham, known as ‘The Second City,’ has undergone a transformation in the last two decades to become a beacon of modernization, with new venues for hospitality and nightlife opening almost weekly.  Visitors arriving into the city via train, hoping to walk into rustic cobbled streets and factories in keeping with the show, would be immediately disappointed by the impressive ‘Grand Central’ railway station. That complex is just one of many examples of Birmingham’s bright and glistening landscape, but with that said, you won’t have to go too far back on the train to visit the locations of the show you will recognize.

© iStock/PeterJamesSampson
© StephenRichards

Manchester usually battles with Birmingham for the honor of best city outside of L[ondon](, with both being centers of excellence in music, creativity, art, and nightlife. The streets of Manchester city center are lined with large, looming Victorian-red buildings and old factories no longer in use, which forced the producers to choose the city for many of this season’s scenes. Harter and Winser street are featured predominantly in season 5, with old cotton mills and distilleries forming the backdrop of fights and disagreements in Small Heath. Also, not too far away, the episode where John, Arthur, and Tom go crazy in London in season 2 was also filmed in Greater Manchester, with Le Mans Crescent in Bolton being transformed into the capital for the day. 

© WikiMedia/PhilSangwell

This area of the We[st Midlands ]( have gotten its name from the number of factories in operation here during the Industrial revolution, leaving thousands of workers black with soot after a hard days work. The museum showcases the lives of men and women working in those conditions and is known as the spiritual home of the show. Entrance here is reasonable, with almost a dozen recognizable locations all on one site. The Boat Dock and Anchor Forge are featured in most episodes, in addition to the season finale of Series 3 being filmed in the St James’ School on campus. Although Small Heath is a real place, all the scenes were filmed on-site at the museum.

© John Howcroft

Arrow House has been Tom Shelby’s residence since his first turn in fortune allowed him to move into something more fitting for Birmingham’s leading criminal gang, and perhaps future Prime Minister. Arley Hall, the actual mansion, is no stranger to Television with regular appearances on the prime-time UK shows for decades. Although the show business career of the estate only represents a small percentage if its 500-year existence, the estate has welcomed thousands of new guests in recent years and is open every Tuesday and Sunday for fans wanting to enjoy the most lavish of backdrops the show has.

© Istock/upungato

This might be a stretch for most, but if you like running and long-distance off-road trails is your thing, this is a real treat. Every year June, the county of We[st Midlands]( hosts the ‘Great Black Country Half Marathon,’ a 24km trail that runs exclusively across the canals between Wolverhampton and Birmingham. The trail takes you through derelict buildings and empty factories that connect the canal between the back streets of the Black Country. You can run the track at any time, and it’s very easy to navigate. The best route is to start in Wolverhampton city center and just head south until you reach Birmingham. Even if you don't run, walking the canals paths through Birmingham city will be enough to get a feel for where the Peaky Blinders called home.

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