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Police museum to fill gaps behind Peaky Blinders drama series

The newly renovated West Midlands Police Museum will have a cell dedicated to the real Peaky Blinders who were incarcerated in the building

The museum will be based at the Victorian Lock-Up on Steelhouse Lane and will feature around 30 different display areas, most of which will be in the cells themselves. 

It is due to open to the public on April 9 and will be open for six days a week. 

The Grade II listed Lock-up is one of the oldest police buildings in Birmingham. 

One of the exhibits will be centred on corporal punishment and feature a birching stool that was located in the lock-up as well as a 3D printed scan of the death mask from the last woman to be hung in Coventry. 

The Peaky Blinders exhibition will tell the stories of some of the gang members, but will also delve into the stories of the officers who dealt with them. 

Heritage Manager Corrine Brazier said: “I love the drama series but it doesn’t really do much to represent the police officers at the time, they’re either faceless or corrupt. 

“We tell the stories of some of the officers that braved the streets from the gangs and some of the ones that were injured or killed and what it was like to police the streets of Birmingham in the late 1800s.” 

One of the exhibits will be a cap with a razor blade which came from Coventry Museum, an accessory which is commonly associated with the Peaky Blinders. 

Ms Brazier, however, explained that the cap dates back to at least the 1960s, making it too early to be a modern replica, yet there is no contemporary evidence to demonstrate the Peaky Blinders actually used these. 

“The oldest references we could find were the 1920s, 30 years after the Peaky Blinders started being mentioned in newspapers.” 

The original museum started back in the 1960s as Birmingham City Police Museum but it was primarily used as a training facility for CID officers. 

Detective Sergeant Charles Elworthy started collecting things to show to the officers on their training courses and gradually the museum grew. 

In 1993, the museum was moved to Sparkhill where it developed an outward focus with public open days and school visits. 

The current renovation and move has been made possible through the Lottery’s Heritage fund, with a £145,000 initial grant, following by £1.2m of further Lottery funding. 

Ms Brazier said: “It does include some negative aspects as well as positive, because although we obviously want to shout about all the things we have got right, it’s important to recognise where we got it wrong as well. 

“There are areas of policing in the West Midlands that the force doesn’t really talk about so we can show how we progressed and moved on since then. 

“It’s really important internally for officers and staff to know about the organisation that they represent, where we come from and how weve gotten to this point. 

“It’s also really important for young people to learn about the history of crime and policing and hopefully steer them down the right path and prevent them from getting involved in criminality. 

“[The museum will also help] inspire the next generation of police recruits [...] and reach out to different communities to show different communities who don’t see themselves in policing but actually we do have officers from all different ethnicities and backgrounds.”

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