Croydon Corporation Tramways

Although the Corporation became a horse tramway owner at the turn of the century, it chose not to operate the tramway itself, but to lease it to the British Electric Traction Company Limited. Photographic evidence suggests that staff working the horsecar services - from the takeover of the Croydon Tramways Company in January 1900 through to their withdrawal in early 1902 - continued to wear the same type of informal attire they had worn in company days. Other than PSV badges (see link) no insignia of any kind appears to have been worn.

From the inauguration of electric services in September 1901, through to June 1906, when the corporation took full control, the operation of Croydon Corporation Tramways was leased to the British Electric Traction Company Ltd (BETCo), a concern which at its zenith either owned, part-owned or leased almost 50 tramway concerns across the British Isles. Photos taken during this period clearly show that staff working the new electric services were issued with the familiar and largely regulation BETCo uniform. Although jackets appeared to vary somewhat between BETCo systems, as well as across the decades, the cap badges, collar designations and buttons invariably followed a standard pattern. Jackets were double-breasted with two rows of four buttons (of the standard BETCo pattern - see link), three pockets at waist level, and lapels; the latter carried individual embroidered system initials - 'C. C. T' - on both sides. Caps were military style with a tensioned crown (top) and a glossy peak, and carried the standard BETCo ‘Magnet & Wheel’ cap badge (see below), below which an employee number was worn. The badges and buttons were almost certainly brass. Although this style of double-breasted uniform - with its distinctly naval appearance - was relatively quickly superseded on the vast majority of BETCo systems where it was used, this had not happened in Croydon by the time the corporation took over operation of the system in 1906.

Curiously, the BETCo did not see fit to use employee numbers on its other two London systems (Metropolitan Electric Tramways and South Metropolitan Electric Tramways) so it may be that this was actually a requirement of the owners, Croydon Corporation.

Following the corporation take-over, staff continued to wear very similar, if not identical double-breasted jackets, but with brass Croydon Corporation Tramways buttons (see link). Caps also followed previous practice, being military in style with an employee number (in brass numerals), but with the BETCo 'Magnet & Wheel' badge replaced by an elaborate badge comprising the municipal shield and motto, surrounded by a wreath, all above the full system title: 'Croydon Corporation Tramways'.

Tramcar staff in both the BETCo and municipal eras always appeared in service wearing enamel Public Carriage Office licences issued by the Metropolitan Police (see link), usually worn on the left breast. They were also issued with heavy double-breasted greatcoats with two rows of five buttons and lapels; the latter carrying embroidered 'C. C. T' initials.

Croydon Corporation also employed the services of points boys; these lads appear to have worn the same uniform as tramcar staff, but without an employee number.

In the early days, inspectors wore uniforms which followed standard BETCo practice, namely, a single-breasted jacket with hidden buttons (or an hook and eye arrangement) and upright collars; the latter carried the designation 'Inspector' in embroidered script lettering. The cap bore a hat band with the standard BETCo 'Magnet & Wheel' badge, along with 'Inspector' in embroidered script lettering. Similar uniforms appear to have been worn during the municipal period, but with a metal script-lettering 'Inspector' badge; the municipal cap badge was possibly worn above this, or alternatively a small round blue enamel badge, examples of which have also survived (see below).

Female staff were employed in significant numbers during the Great War (from late 1915 onwards), and were issued with tailored single-breasted jackets with five buttons, high fold-over collars and a waist belt (with button fastening), along with a medium-length matching skirt and lace-up gaiters; the collars bore 'C.C.T' in prominent embroidered letters. Headgear was a dark-coloured, wide-brimmed bonnet, to which a standard municipal cap badge was affixed (on a hat band), and above which an employee number (in brass numerals) was worn.

For a history of Croydon Corporation Tramways, see: 'Croydon Tramways' by Robert J Harley; Capital Transport Publishing (2004).


Horse tram drivers and conductors
Croydon Tramways Horse Tram No 13
Horsecar No 13 on a Thornton Heath service - photo undated, but judging by the fashions, probably taken around the turn of the century, during the few short years when the British Electric Traction Company operated the services prior to their electrification. Author's Collection.

Croydon Tramways horse tram driver
A blow-up of the above photo showing the driver, who appears to be wearing a light coloured raincoat, along with a straw boater, and the usual PCO licence.

Motormen and conductors
Croydon Corporation Tramways Tram No 10
The crew of what would appear to be a fairly new Tramcar No 10, on a Purley and Thornton Heath service, with an inspector at the controls - photo undated, but probably taken in 1902/3 given that the lifeguard is a replacement for that originally fitted, and it has the new destination boxes. Photo courtesy of the National Tramway Museum.

Croydon Corporation Tramways tram conductor 1902
A blow-up of the above photo showing the conductor - Employee No 201. His BETCo 'Magnet & Wheel' cap badge and 'C. C. T' collar initials are easily made out.

Standard British Electric Traction Company Limited ‘Magnet & Wheel’ cap badge.

Crodon Corporation Tramways tram driver
Another blow up of the Tramcar No 10 photo, this time showing the motorman.

Croydon Corporation Tramways
Staff photo, more than likely taken to commemorate the opening of the system in January 1900. All the uniformed staff are wearing the standard BETCo ‘Magnet & Wheel’ cap badge, above an employee number (for lower grades) or an embroidered ‘Inspector’ badge. There are a total of thirteen inspectors (seated on the second row) whilst the front row comprises eight very youthful looking employees, possibly points boys. With thanks to Richard Rosa.

Croydon Corporation Trmaways staff photo
A blow-up of the above photo showing a group of motormen and conductors. All present are wearing double-breasted, naval-style jackets with 'C C T' collar initials and military-style caps with rain covers, a standard BETCo cap badge and an employee number.

Croydon  Corporation Tramways points boys
Another blow-up of the above photo, this time showing a few of the youths at the front, almost certainly points or parcels boys. Their uniforms are identical to those worn by motormen and conductors, save for the absence of an employee number.

Croydon Corporation Tramways tramwaymen
A studio portrait of two Croydon Corporation Tramways employees (Numbers 101 and 76) - photo undated, but definitely taken after the corporation take-over of 1906. Both men are wearing the standard ‘Croydon Corporation Tramways’ cap badge (see below) with an employee number beneath. The man on the right has a round badge of some description, worn in his left lapel, though its meaning is unclear. The significance of the maple leaf is also uncertain, but may be something to do with commemorating the Boer War, and in particular, the Canadian volunteers. With thanks to Richard Rosa.

Croydon Corporation Tramways cap badge
Croydon Corporation-era cap badge - brass. Author's Collection.

Croydon Corporation Tramways tram driver
Corporation-era motorman (Employee No 195) wearing what appears to be a home-made employee number, as well as a PCO licence (see link), which is always evident in photos of 'on service' tramcar staff. With thanks to Richard Rosa.

Croydon Corporation Tramways tram driver
A blow-up of the above photo showing the cap badge and home-made employee number.

Croydon Corporation Tramways tram driver
Motorman poses for the cameraman aboard Tramcar No 31 - date and location unknown, but possibly not long after the corporation takeover. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.

Croydon Corporation Tramways points boy
A Points Boy (with points iron) walks ahead of Tramcar No 73 - location and date unknown, but probably Edwardian. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.

Croydon Corporation Tramways band
Croydon Corporation Tramways Band, photo taken after the Corporation take over. Some of the staff are wearing employee numbers, whilst others are not. The bowler-hatted figure in the centre is the same dapper gentleman who appears with the Cricket Team in BETCo days (see below). With thanks to Richard Rosa.

Croydon Corporation Tramways cricket team
Croydon Corporation Tramways staff - most probably the cricket team - sometime between 1900 and 1906. The gentleman in the centre is very probably the General Manager, whilst the sole uniformed member of staff is an inspector. He also appears on the preceding band photo. With thanks to Richard Rosa.

Senior staff
Croydon Corporation Tramways tram inspector 1902
A blow-up of Tramcar No 10 above, taken around 1902/3, and showing the inspector, who is at the controls. His collars and hatband both bear his grade - 'Inspector' - in embroidered script lettering.

Croydon Corporation Tramways inspectors
A group of thirteen CCT inspectors - photo undated, but certainly taken in BETCo days, i.e. no later than 1906. Photo courtesy of the National Tramway Museum.

Croydon Corporation Tramways tram inspector
A blow-up of the above photo showing two of the inspectors. Curiously, some of the men have 'Inspector' on both collars, some have 'Inspector' on one collar and system initials on the other, and some system initials on both collars! The man on the left is almost certainly the same individual at the controls of Tramcar No 10, above.

Photo of a BETCo Inspector (taken from the cricket team photo above), clearly showing his BETCo cap badge and embroidered ‘Inspector’ badges, beneath the cap badge and on the upright collars.

Croydon Corporation Tramways inspector cap badge
Probable 'corporation-era' inspector's cap badge - gilt and blue enamel. Author's Collection.

Female staff
Croydon Corporation Tramways Tramcar No 8 and conductress at Penge
Conductress and motorman with Tramcar No 8 at Penge - photo undated, but almost certainly taken during the Great War. Author's collection.

Croydon Corporation Tramways Tram No 8 and Great War conductress
A blow-up of the above photo showing the conductress and motorman.

Another Great War photo taken at Penge, this time of Tramcar No 17. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.