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Mark’s History: Peaky Blinders and Victorian gangs of Pudsey and West Leeds

Street Gangs in Victorian times were not just confined to Small Heath in Birmingham with the Peaky Blinders – they were in all the major cities in the country, writes Mark Stevenson.

West Leeds was no exception and the streets and yards of Bramley – with their communities within communities – would have been fought over.

Gangs with names like ‘Waterloo Lane Abdabs’ and the ‘Gowsha Wildcats’ would have fought each other for control of which mills were robbed.

The gangs in Pudsey would fight tooth and nail with each other for the right to rob you and beat you. But if you were an outsider and you tried to muscle in on their territory they would join forces under the name of ‘Pudsey Blacks’.

Some areas of West Leeds would have bad reputations and would become known as ‘sodom’ or ‘folly’.

One sodom was Lower Wortley, known for its cock and dog fighting, not to mention the bull baiting.

With all these criminal gangs around, perhaps the good old days were not so good after all!

Image: the original 19th century Peaky Blinders, used under creative commons license and courtesy of West Midlands Police.

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