Peaky Blinders came to my attention when my son told me that someone said he looks like the main character. This was back in 2014 just before the second season premiered. We managed to watch the first series and were immediately hooked. I was drawn in by the quality of the show and its writing, not just because I could see the resemblance between Tommy and my son. On paper, the show is about gangsters, violence, criminals and it’s very dark, not my cup of tea. However just like Game of Thrones on paper is not my cup of tea, I still loved it. The show is so gripping and beautifully shot, with great characters, it’s just pure quality.
For those that haven’t seen the show, it’s set in Birmingham in the years just after the First World War. It is the story of a returning veteran Tommy Shelby and his rise to power in the criminal world. He is a loveable rogue type and Cillian Murphy who plays the part brilliantly. The show is dark yet stylish and captivating. I recommend it even if on paper it doesn’t seem your thing. Steven Knight, the creator, said it was a passion project for himself and didn’t expect it to take off the way it has. They say passion is the key to success and it seems to be the case with Steven Knight and Peaky Blinders.
It was my son’s birthday recently so I bought him tickets for a Peaky Blinders tour. The tour run by Brit Movie Tours takes you to the filming locations including Tommy’s Mansion. Last Sunday we both went on the tour and had a fabulous day out. We met some great people and got plenty of insights into the making of the show. The show is shot in Liverpool due to its well preserved Victorian industrial architecture and the fact the city is film friendly as it was.
The tour started at 9.30am outside St Georges Hall in the centre of Liverpool. We met with the group and the Liverpoolian tour guide. A few of the men had got into character with their Peaky caps on. It was a beautiful spot with outstanding architecture and monuments all around. The guide explained how St Georges Hall has been used for a number of other films including JK Rowling’s Fantastic Beasts. He talked a bit about the building and surrounding buildings before we headed off on an air-conditioned coach. As the day’s temperature was going to be 30 degrees, seeing the words ‘air conditioned ‘on top of the coach was reassuring.
We drove to the Georgian quarter of Liverpool where a number of scenes had been filmed. Rodney Street, Falkner Square and Huskisson Street are all great examples of beautiful Georgian architecture. I would happily live in any of them. Then we headed to the street used as the family home of the Shelby’s in series 1 and 2. The area is in Toxteth’s Welsh Street areas where all roads have Welsh names. Today many are derelict and in disrepair, row after row actually, quite a sad sight, however, the area is going to be refurbished. The actual road of houses used in Peaky Blinders (Powis Street ) was secured for filming and painted black. All the aerials have been removed and any other hints of the 21st century. It was quite eerie and it felt like we were back in the early 20th Century. As I took the pictures below many people wanted to have their picture taken with my son. He happily obliged. I was happy as I was waiting for someone to mention the similarity. The group all started chatting at this stage and any ice was broken.
Next up the tour took us to Seacombe Ferry Terminal where we had the chance to use toilets and have some refreshments.
Then we headed to Polly’s House. This was an interesting stop as it is a really pretty village with fascination history. Port Sunlight in the Wirral was built by the Lever Brothers for the workers of its now famous soap factory. Each row of houses has different architecture. The area houses 900 Grade II listed buildings with plenty of green spaces. Here our guide got out snaps from the series and mentioned the scenes where this area was used.
Our next stop on tour was the Canal Waterways Museum that stood as the Camden Town Warehouse in the series. Here we got some inside information from some of the staff at the museum. A couple of the workers became extras in scenes and had to drive a long boat back and forth about 30 times.
Our final stop on the tour was the highlight for me, Tommy’s Mansion. Those that remember the ending of the last series will remember the scene where all the family are arrested except Tommy. He watches them all being taken away. The actual mansion used was Arley Hall in Cheshire. The Staff here showed us around the mansion and explained they had been here all week. They said there were amazed at the attention to detail. The rooms were painted green and then painted back to the original colour once filming has finished. The office picture below you can see is still green, so they are still using that room. They said the crew were very friendly and worked hard as there were many takes. A smoke machine was used a lot to create the dark atmosphere.
It was here when I asked my son to put a shirt on we bought. We had brought a suit jacket but it was so hot I didn’t want to make him any more uncomfortable. As I started to take pictures of him the entire queued up to take photographs. He was a little embarrassed but liked the attention. He felt like a celebrity for the day. For me it was very funny.
After seeing the inside of the house we had about an hour and a half to do as we pleased. There were acres of beautiful gardens to explore. My phone had run out of battery power by this time so I couldn’t get any photographs of the gardens. We then finished off with a lovely homemade scone, cream and jam in the Halls cafe. It was the perfect ending to the perfect day.
The tour gave a great insight into how shows like these are made. Also as we were driving to the locations the guide would point out buildings and mention Liverpool facts. It really was a great experience and I recommend it to anyone, especially peaky blinders fans.
If you fancy going on the same tour, find out more about it here.