Exeter Corporation Tramways

Summary
Exeter Corporation officially took over the privately owned and operated Exeter Tramways on the 1st February 1904. Although photos of the horse tramway taken prior to this date are very rare, a surprising number appear to have been taken during the relatively short period of municipal operation, up until electrification (circa 14 months). These photos clearly show that staff were issued with smart new uniforms - in stark contrast to the policy of the previous owner/operator - whose uniform expenditure only appears to have stretched to the issuing of kepi-style caps to conductors (see link).

Drivers and conductors were now issued with double-breasted, 'lancer-style' tunics with two rows of five buttons, presumably brass and bearing the full title and corporation device (see link), and with upright collars; photos suggest that some kind of insignia were carried on the latter, very possibly the initials and employee numbers seen in photos from the electric era (see later). Caps were in the kepi style with a steeply inclined glossy peak, but now bore a large municipal coat of arms badge, almost certainly the same as the brass example depicted below. Staff were also issued with long double-breasted overcoats; these appear to have carried some kind of insignia on the epaulettes, very probably an employee number.

Photos taken on the opening day of electric services show staff wearing double-breasted, 'lancer-style' tunics with two rows of five buttons, two waist pockets, epaulettes (with button fastening) and upright collars. The latter carried an employee number in individual numerals on the left-hand side and individual metal initials 'E C T' on the right, all presumably in brass. Caps were initially in the kepi style, but were soon changed to a military type with a tensioned crown (top), with the same prominent municipal cap badge. At some point, probably just after the Great War, a new style of single-breasted jacket was introduced with five buttons, waist and breast pockets, epaulettes and upright collars; the latter continued to carry the same designations as the earlier tunics. Photos frequently show crews with both styles of uniform, suggesting that their introduction was a gradual process.

At the very end of the tramway era, another change of uniform was made, this time to a more modern double-breasted jacket with two rows of three buttons and lapels; the latter carried the same designations as were worn on the upright collars of the older uniforms. These new uniforms very probably bore chrome insiginia and buttons, as chrome Exeter Corporation Tramways buttons exist, despite the fact that chromium plating only came into vogue in the very late 1920s (see link), and was expensive - a little surprising given that the system was closed in 1931.

Inspectors in the municipal horse tramway-era probably wore single-breasted jackets with lapels, shirt and tie (photos are unclear), along with long double-breasted overcoats with lapels. In contrast to the tramcar crews, caps were in a military-style with a glossy peak, though still with the same Exeter coat of arms cap badge. A staff photo taken after the demise of the tramway (see below) shows that inspectors wore very similar jackets to the bus crews, but with 'Inspector' in embroidered script-lettering on the collars in place of the usual system initials and employee number. Caps were in the military style with tensioned crown and continued to carry the standard municipal cap badge

Female staff were employed during the Great War as conductresses, to replace male staff lost to the armed services; unfortunately, no photographs of these ladies appear to have survived, so it is currently impossible to state what uniforms they wore.

Images

Horse tram drivers and conductors
Exeter Corporation Tramways staff
A rather battered Exeter Tramways Horsecar No 4 outside Polsloe Park Post Office in the municipal era - photo undated, but certainly taken in 1904 or early 1905. The prominent municipal cap badge is clearly evident on the driver (left), inspector (centre) and conductor (right). Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.


Exeter Corporation Tramways brass cap badge
Exeter Corporation Tramways cap badge - brass. With thanks to John Burford.


 Exeter Corporation Tramways crew
Exeter Tramways Horse Car No 3 in Heavitree Rd - photo tentatively dated 1905, but definitely in the corporation-era. The larger figure to the right is presumably an inspector, and in all probability, the same individual depicted in the photo of Horsecar No 4 above. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.


Motormen and conductors
Exeter Corporation Tramways
A photo taken on the opening day of electric services - Tuesday 4th April 1905 - with Mayor E C Perry at the controls. The man on the left (who is presumably a motorman) is wearing exactly the same style uniform as the crews who worked the now defunct horsecars. The figure next to him is in all probability an inspector, as all other photos from this period show that conductors and motormen wore 'lancer-style' tunics. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.


Exeter Corporation Tramways Motorman
An excellent studio portrait of Exeter Corporation Tramways Employee No 26 - photo undated, but probably taken prior to the Great War. The collar designations and the cap badge are particularly clear. With thanks to Stephen Howarth.


Exeter Corporation Tramways crew Tram 10
Motorman and conductor pose with Tramcar No 10 in Alphington Rd - photo undated, but almost certainly taken before the Great War. Both men are wearing double-breasted, 'lancer-style' tunics, as well as white rain covers on their caps, indicating that it was summer.


Exeter Corporation Tramways conductor Gilbert Easterbrooke
A lovely studio portrait of Exeter Corporation Tramways conductor Gilbert Easterbrooke - photo probably taken around 1920. Mr Easterbrooke started as a tram conductor, later became a motorman, then worked on the buses, initially as one of the first corporation drivers, and finally retiring as an inspector. Photograph by kind permission of his daughter, Margaret Batten.


Exeter Corporation Tramways conductor Gilbert Easterbrooke
A blow-up of the above photo showing the cap badge and collar insignia, revealing that Mr Easterbrooke was Employee No 57.


Exeter Corporation Tramways crew tram car 30
Conductor and motorman stand in front of Tramcar No 30 at the Stone Lane terminus - photo undated, but definitely taken after 1925 as No 30 was not built until then. Both men are wearing single-breasted jackets with epaulettes.


Motorman Gilbert Easterbrooke Exeter Corporation Tramways with Tram No 24
Another shot of Gilbert Easterbrooke (right), this time as a motorman, along with his conductor and Tramcar No 24 - photo undated, but almost certainly taken in the very late 1920s or early 1930s. Photograph by kind permission of his daughter, Margaret Batten.


Exeter Corporation Tramways last tram
Mr H E Bradley (Chairman of the Transport Committee) at the controls on the last car on 19th August 1931. Note that the tramwayman to his right (Motorman Nicholls) is wearing a smart new style of double-breasted jacket with wide lapels. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.


Exeter Corporation Transport staff
A close-up taken from a much larger photo of Exeter Corporation Transport staff outside a municipal depot. Although almost certainly taken several years after the demise of the tramway, the uniforms appear to be similar if not identical in style to the one seen in the 'last-day' photo above. With thanks to Stephen Howarth.


Exeter Corporation Tramways cap badge
Cap badge - nickel


Exeter Corporation Tramways cap badge
Cap badge (late) - chrome


Senior staff
Exeter Corporation Tramways inspector
A blow-up of the photo of Horsecar No 4 above (taken in 1904 or 1905), showing a figure who is presumably an inspector. Although he appears to be wearing a standard Exeter Corporation Tramways cap badge, his cap is military in style, in contrast to the kepis issued to the tramcar staff.


Exeter Corporation Tramways inspector
A blow-up of the opening day photo above, again showing a figure who is, in all probability, an inspector. He is in single-breasted jacket with lapels, and like the photo above, is wearing a military-style cap rather than the kepis of the tramcar crews.


Exeter Corporation Transport inspector
A blow-up of a larger Exeter Corporation Transport-era photograph, showing an inspector. Although taken after the demise of the tramway, it seems likely that the uniforms were the same as worn by inspectors in the latter days of the tramway (1920s).