Lessons from Tommy Shelby: The Peaky Blinder from Birmingham

Bill Ivans Gbafore
4 min readOct 17, 2021

“Don’t expect what you give... Not everyone has a heart like you”

— Tommy Shelby

Tommy Shelby returned to Britain in 1919 as a War Hero from the First World War and was honoured for his bravery at the Battle of Verdun and the Battle of Somme. However, there was more to the war than laureates for Tommy — it changed his life forever with trauma and altered his perspectives on life and society eternally.

Tommy returned to Birmingham, the home of heavy metals, famous for its role as a hotspot in the industrial revolution in the 19th Century. But Britain at the end of the First World War was marred by newly minted revolutions, despair, sybaritism, and rocked by economic upheaval and social injustice. It is in this New Britain, in Birmingham networked with canals from Sherborne Wharf and pubs clouded with cigars and, laden with whisky jars as flower pots that Tommy sought to raise his family gang: The Peaky Blinders.

There are many lessons we can learn from the life of this war hero, Tommy Shelby, and his breakthrough in a rotten ecosystem.


The Peaky Blinders is more than a Society; they are a family. In fact, a family of Shelbys. He showed us through the ultimate sacrifices he makes for Arthur (his brother who fought alongside him during the war) when the world rose above his head and suicide came calling many times; and the lengths he would go for Ada, staying at peace with her beloved Freddie Thorne, his fiercest communist rival. Tommy demonstrated how the serenity of each member of his family mattered as much as his own, and how their happiness meant his joy — Polly’s happiness with a big house and her children; John’s happiness with a wife. It is the Peaky Blinders or nothing, for Tommy. It is family first. It is family now. It is family above all else. He loses himself in their service and walks on the edges for their gains. Tommy showed us that this is what a man should do for his family — hit even ocean bottom for them.


The Peaky Blinders is remembered not just because they are a family — they are a group of people who thrive on business and strategy through the races track bets and pubs. While Birmingham rots in…

Bill Ivans Gbafore

Bibliophile, Lover of Culture, Arts, Economics, and Lifestyle