City of Oxford and District Tramways

History
Oxford's horse tramway, which opened for business in 1881, was built and operated by the City of Oxford and District Tramways Company Ltd. The concern was sold to Oxford Corporation in December 1906, who then leased it to a newly formed company, the City of Oxford Electric Tramways Limited, a subsidiary of the National Electric Construction Company. Despite the new company's title, the system was never electrified, and was closed in August 1914 when the company decided that bus operation was a better proposition.

Uniforms
Although surviving photographs are not of the highest quality, they clearly show that up until the mid-Edwardian era, conductors and drivers simply wore informal but robust attire: trousers, jackets, waistcoats, shirts and ties. Headgear appears to have followed the fashion of the day, predominantly the bowler hat, though this gradually gave way to the flat cap as the years wore on. No badges of any kind were worn on either the jackets or the hats.

By the time of the council take-over (1906), conductors were being issued with uniforms, or were at least expected to wear clothing that conformed to a uniform specification; official caps were in a military style with a tensioned crown (top) and bore a prominent cap badge. The pattern is currently unknown as no examples appear to have survived. During this later period, drivers and conductors were also expected to wear enamel licences (possibly of the type depicted below), though these appear to have eventually fallen out of use if surviving photographs are anything to go by.

It is currently unclear what uniforms if any, inspectors wore, or indeed, whether the companies ever saw fit to employ them.

I am grateful to John Perkin for the background information.

Further reading
For a history of the system, see: 'The Tramways of Oxford' by H J H Wheare, in the Tramway Review Nos 140 (p103-116), 142 (p176-195) and 143 (p213-223); Light Rail Transit Association (1989 and 1990).

Images

Horse tram drivers and conductors
City of Oxford and District Tramways horse tram No 9
A conductor and driver with Horsecar No 9 at the Kingston Rd terminus — photo undated, but probably taken in the early 1890s. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.


City of Oxford and District Tramways horse tram No 9
A blow-up of the above photo showing the crew, both of whom are wearing informal attire. Neither man is wearing a municipal licence.


City of Oxford and District Tramways horse tram
A driver and conductor, once again in informal attire at the Cowley Road terminus — photo undated, but probably taken in the mid-to-late 1890s. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.


City of Oxford and District Tramways horse tram No 18
The crew of Horsecar No 18 pose for the cameraman at the Cowley Road terminus in September 1906. By this time, conductors were clearly being issued with uniforms and cap badges. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.


City of Oxford and District Tramways horse tram No 18
A blow-up of the above photo, which though of poor quality, clearly shows that both men are also wearing municipal licences, more than likely the same pattern as that shown below.


City of Oxford horse tram driver's licence
Possible horse tram driver's municipal licence — Oxford — yellow and black enamel. The Police Committee of Oxford City Council accepted a quote — on 3rd April 1890 — from the Patent Enamel Co. Ltd., for 300 badges for drivers and conductors at 1/- (one shilling) each (this included cab drivers), and the tram crew badges were requested to be white lettering on yellow enamel. It is therefore unclear whether the supplier did not meet the precise specification, or whether this badge is a later issue or indeed that it was for use by bus crews. With thanks to Nick Taylor for this information.


City of Oxford and District Tramways horse tram
Double-deck Horsecar No 11 at the Cowley Road terminus, in the penultimate year of operation, 1913. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.


Oxford - 13CROP
A blow-up of the above photo showing the driver (right), in informal attire, and the conductor (centre), in uniform, cap and cap badge. Curiously, neither man appears to be wearing a municipal licence.