Exeter Tramways

Summary
Photos of Exeter's horse tramways taken prior to 1904 (the year of the corporation take-over) are surprisingly rare given the fact that they had been plying their trade for a good 22 years before municipalisation. Fortunately, the excellent staff photo below, clearly shows the general attire of both conductors and drivers. As was frequently the case with horse tramway operators, drivers tended to wear smart but informal attire comprising trousers, jacket, waistcoat and tie, plus long coachman-style overcoats; no insignia of any kind was worn. Headgear was essentially the fashion of the day, namely, the ubiquitous bowler hat, with the occasional flat cap putting in an appearance.

Conductors, who in the early days at least, appear to have been boys rather than adults, wore similar attire, but with a kepi-style cap; this was presumably issued by the company, and bore an employee number, though whether this was metal or cloth is unclear (see below). Given the sparsity of photos, it is impossible to state with any degree of certainty whether the kepi cap continued in continuous use up until muncipalisation.

Photographs of inspectors are unknown, and it is entirely possible that the ETCo never made use of them.


For a history of Exeter's horse tramway, see: 'Exeter: a Century of Public Transport' by R C Sambourne; Glasney Press (1976). For a pictorial history of Exeter's tramways, see: Exeter and Taunton Tramways' by J Perkin; Middleton Press (1994).

Images

Horse tram drivers and conductors
Exeter Tramways staff pgoto 1880s
Staff photo - date unknown, but very probably taken in the early years of the tramway company’s life, i.e., the 1880s. Of those assembled, eight are conductors, with all but one wearing kepi-style caps; all eight are very young, which was probably a deliberate policy of the company, no doubt aimed at keeping the wage bill as low as possible. The gentleman in the centre is probably either the chairman or a significant shareholder. With thanks to David Bryant.


Exeter Trmways horse tram conductor 1880s
A blow up of the above photo showing a very young conductor (No 1). The jacket was probably self-purchased, with the kepi-style cap being issued by the company to confer a level of officialdom on the wearer.



A photo of two horse trams at the junction of High St, Paris St and Sidwell St - photo undated, but possibly taken in the 1890s. The two drivers are wearing bowler hats and long coachman-style overcoats. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.