How to meet the real Peaky Blinders - and sit in one of their prison cells

Transport yourself back in time as you learn about two centuries of policing history as well as the history of the notorious Birmingham gang at a brand new museum

A new West Midlands Police museum has opened its doors and visitors will have the chance to learn about the real Peaky Blinders.

Following a two-year project transforming it from a Victorian Lock-Up to a unique heritage attraction, the museum promises to take visitors on a unique journey through more than 200 years of policing history in the region.

The lock-up in Steelhouse Lane, Birmingham, was built in 1891 and housed more than one million prisoners before the cell doors closed for the final time in 2016.

People will even be able to sit in cells once occupied by members of the original Peaky Blinders.

There are cells dedicated to the famous Birmingham-gang, the Victorian era and World War 2, plus a Tardis-like police box, life-size police horse, and police motorbikes.

These are the mugshots of the original Peaky Blinders gang - these and other fascinating records are now on display.

These are also mugshots of the original Peaky Blinders gang - these and other fascinating records are on display.

The criminals featured in these 1904 police mugshots may appear very distant relatives of Peaky Blinder Tommy Shelby, but they are some of the earliest known members of the notorious Birmingham street gang.

One of them, baby-face Harry Fowler (far left), was arrested for stealing a bicycle for which he was sent to prison for one month.

But he was also the brother of George Fowler, one of three Peaky Blinders jailed for killing a Birmingham Police officer in 1901.

The museum is spread across three floors with many of the Victorian features preserved including the old cells, metal walkways and central metal spiral staircase.

And for younger visitors there is a trail where children can follow the Lock-Up Mouse through the displays and collect a cuddly toy from the museum shop.

The museum – which will open six days a week – is the largest, most accessible police museum in the country and brings together an unrivalled collection of police artefacts.

There is also an array of hands-on activities where people can play the role of detective at a crime scene, examine evidence in a forensics lab, take your own police ‘mugshot’ and dress up in police uniform from years gone by.

What’s been said about the opening?

Chief Constable Sir David Thompson said: “It will give people a chance to learn more about their local police force today, as well as learning all about its history. That is essential for us when we consider the good and bad from our history; from pioneering female, black and Asian officers, to lessons learned when we haven’t quite got it right.

“The objects on display are not just obsolete pieces of kit and collections of old pictures and records. Each tells a poignant story. They demonstrate struggles of those who’ve gone before us and shine a light on the social history of policing.

There are plenty of interactive displays - including activities where people can play the role of detective at a crime scene.

“The museum will give us a chance to build bridges with communities through our shared history, and educate people on how policing has developed. It will be an important education resource for young people in the West Midlands and beyond.

“The museum also remembers those who have gone before us, particularly those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice. That is really important.

“It’s a fabulous addition to the region, both for residents and tourists: the vast array of exhibits and the history of the building itself is truly fascinating.”

How can I get tickets?

You can buy tickets on line at West Midlands Police Museum or by calling 0121 609 1700.

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