On many episodes while walking the streets near The Garrison, short bursts of large billowing flames spew out of some of the buildings. What are these flames coming from?
A Reddit user has a possible explanation:
This is most likely a dramatic representation. From the "mouth of god":
I visualised the story through the eyes of a young boy growing up in that environment, so there’s a sense of heightened reality: the horses were bigger, the men were taller and the pubs more glamorous. What went on in hose days is quite amazing and the characters are incredible and really lend themselves to drama.
It is possible that there could have been stray plumes of fire billowing out of buildings every now and then, but I think it unlikely to be as large and dramatic as Peaky Blinders makes it. But for the sake of my own personal entertainment, let's look at this a little more.
Birmingham was initially noted for textile-manufacturing, not exactly something you would need bursting flames for. But, per Wikipedia:
In 1709 the Birmingham-trained Abraham Darby I moved to Coalbrookdale in Shropshire and built the first blast furnace to successfully smelt iron ore with coke, transforming the quality, volume and scale on which it was possible to produce cast iron.
Warning: Everything following is bullshit that I'm spewing based on roughly 60 minutes of research and having now real knowledge of what Birmingham was like during the assumed time period.
So Birmingham has a specific relationship with the blast furnace. A blast furnace is used for smelting to produce industrial metals, particularly to make pig iron, lead and copper. These would be used in a number of manufacturing needs; not the least of all would be weapon making.
But who in Birmingham would have need of industrial metals? Well of course, the Birmingham Small Arms Company (BSA) would require such metals in large quantities. While the BSA made large quantities of weapons, they were a conglomerate business, and had a number of other sources of revenue. Bicycle manufacturing, motorcycles, automobiles (specifically, the BSA acquired the Daimler automobile company in 1910), and eventually even aircraft. Of course, the BSA was also responsible for weapons such as the legendary Lewis automatic machine gun.
But to manufacture any of this, there are thousands of parts that need to come into play. It seems to make sense that if every step of the chain, from smelting to final product, are contained within the same geographic region, a company could reduce costs dramatically.
I would assume that the large plumes of fire that we see are the result of ventilation or exhaust from blast furnaces operating. I would further assume that these furnaces would be used to smelt materials that would be sent to the actual manufacturing facilities of the BSA.
But I'm mostly blowing smoke here, and I'm making a lot of assumptions based on fairly light research. Correct me if I'm wrong.
According to the makers, these fireballs serve a thematic purpose:
5 - The Shelbys can't escape hell
The Shelbys needn't worry about going to hell because according to series one director Colm McCarthy, they are already there. You might remember those fireballs you kept seeing on the way to the Garrison? These aren't just a feature of a bygone area, it was deliberate says Colm.
Speaking to Den Of Geek, he said:
The first time that we see The Garrison, we have this huge fireball. The next time we go there, Tommy is there and he's got a flame whooshing behind him. We open that shot on fire, and then we end the episode with Tommy in that deep angle with that flame going in the background and he's in a pit. Absolutely, there's definitely a sense of hell. That's very deliberate.