You Can Now Go Inside The Prison Where The 'Peaky Blinders' Were Held IRL
A Victorian jailhouse where the real-life Peaky Blinders gang were once locked up is being opened to the public - and it sounds like a fascinating trip.
The BBC drama has run for five series and follows the Birmingham gang, their leader Thomas Shelby and the Shelby family's dalliances with danger.
It instantly became a hit with viewers, cementing Cillian Murphy, who plays the formidable lead Tommy, as a superstar alongside fellow actors Tom Hardy, Helen McCrory, Sam Claflin and Paul Anderson.
Capitalising on the success, fans of the Bafta award-winning series can now get a look inside Birmingham's eerie Steelhouse Lane Lock-up, which operated from 1891 to 2016.
The mug shots of Harry Fowler, Ernest Bayles, Stephen McHickie and Thomas Gilbert, wearing their trademark flat caps, even adorn the walls of the 128-year-old prison.
Guests can walk in the footsteps of the infamous crooks and look inside the cells of the former custody suite, which was transformed into a museum in 2017.
The building also features stained glass windows, a tunnel through which criminals made the walk to court, art deco door handles and old-fashioned interview rooms.
Other West Midlands Police memorabilia includes the UK's biggest mugshot collection and what is believed to be the oldest police custody photograph in the world.
Inspector Steve Rice, who works on the West Midlands Police Heritage Project, said: "It's a late Victorian building which over the years has had many notorious criminals.
"People often ask me if the Peaky Blinders are a real gang, they were, and they caused misery to a lot of people in the city, so we are careful not to glorify their actions.
He continued: "We like to give people the facts about them. They are criminals at the end of the day. Our records have them down for offences like stealing but we know they moved into illegal practices involving horse racing and betting.
"The building also has a tunnel where thousands of criminals would have made the walk from the cells to court to learn their fate.
"It's quite chilling to think what would be going through their heads at they made this walk, sometimes to face the death sentence," he added.
"We aim to educate visitors mainly about all aspects of policing and the history of the force. There are old helmets, uniforms, body armour and handcuffs people can try on."
'The Peaky Blinders' earned their chilling nickname after sewing razor blades into the peaks of their flat caps, so they could blind rival gangsters by headbutting them.
They ruled the industrialised areas of Bordesley Green and Small Heath in the early 1900s, when the city was one of the world's most important manufacturing hubs.
Police records reveal they were jailed for relatively minor offences from breaking into shops, bike theft and "false pretences" in October 1904.
Court records referred to the gang members as "foul-mouthed young men who stalk the streets in drunken groups, insulting and mugging passers-by".
The jail will open its doors to the public on January 3 offering 90-minute guided tours. Details can be found here.
Featured Image Credit: SWNS