The image above shows the slum housing of Bagot Street in the early years of the twentieth century. In 1873 it had been the centre of a small riot between rival gangs from the Gun Quarter and St Bartholomew’s district.
The Gangs of Birmingham - From the Sloggers to the Peaky Blinders by Philip Gooderson
According to author Philip Gooderson English urban society between 1870 and 1900 underwent some profound changes which led to the emergence of a new phenomenon - violent, youthful gangs.
Their development grew out of overcrowded slums where life was cheap, and from the encompassing presence of alcohol-fuelled violence.
A precarious survival and a form of protection was afforded from banding together with family, fellow workers and neighbours, against the uncertainty of street-life and the authority of the law.
In Birmingham a fight was called a slog, and so the gang members were at first called sloggers, but later they were known as Peaky Blinders for the fringe of hair or cap peak typically worn over one eye.
Finding out about Gangs in Birmingham
The Heritage Research Area on level four of the Library of Birmingham is a fantastic resource for local and family history information. As well as books, there is access to newspapers and other material on microfiche/microfilm and the Ancestry website which is free to use within the library.