Folkestone, Sandgate and Hythe Tramways

Summary
Although early photos of the tramway have yet to come to light, written sources suggest that staff of the Folkstone, Sandgate and Hythe Tramway Company simply wore informal attire. Uniforms were first issued following the take-over by the South Eastern Railway Company in 1893 (see 'The Tramways of Kent, Volume 2; Invicta [1975]), though precisely what form these took is unclear, as photographs of the first two decades of operation are extremely rare. By the late Edwardian era however, the photographic record is much richer, clearly showing that drivers were issued with double-breasted jackets with lapels, the upper part of which (the collar) certainly bore some kind of insignia, probably embroidered. Conductors on the other hand were issued with single-breasted jackets with upright collars, and though it is unclear whether the latter bore any insignia, in all likelihood they did. Caps were in a military style with a tensioned crown (top), and probably bore script-lettering grade badges, though these cannot be made out in sufficient detail on surviving photographs. It seems unlikely that this style of cap would have been worn in the 1890s, a decade when kepi-style caps were in vogue.

The tramway closed during the Great War, and upon re-opening, it appears to have taken a rather relaxed approach to uniforms. Although some photographs show staff wearing the pre-war uniforms, several show drivers and conductors wearing informal attire, along with a variety of overcoats, some with insignia and some without.

There is some suggestion that women conductors were employed after the Great War, though this remains unproven, at least photographically, so details, assuming uniforms were even issued, remain unknown.

It is unclear whether the tramway employed inspectors - certainly, photographs depicting them are yet to come to light.

Images

Horse tram drivers and conductors
Folkestone, Sandgate and Hythe horse tram and crew
The driver and conductor of Horsecar No 3 pose for the cameraman on Princes Parade - photo purportedly taken in 1910. Although the photograph is of rather poor quality, it clearly shows that at this time, conductors wore single-breasted jackets with upright collars. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.


Folkestone, Sandgate and Hythe horse tram No 5 and driver
Horsecar No 5 with Driver James Picher at the Red Lion terminus (Hythe) in 1912. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.


Folkestone, Sandgate and Hythe horse tram No 5 and conductor
Another shot taken from the same photo as above, this time showing the conductor in single-breasted jacket.


Folkestone, Sandgate and Hythe horse tram No 5
Another rather poor quality photograph, but one which clearly shows a driver in double-breasted jacket, this time with Horsecar No 5 - date unknown, but almost certainly taken between 1919 and 1921 given the fashions on display. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.


Folkestone, Sandgate and Hythe horse tram No 5
A rather proprietorial conductor with Horsecar No 5 and in Red Lion Square at the Hythe terminus. Given that the photo certainly post-dates the Great War, the subject is wearing a rather anachronistic looking frock-style coat and bow tie. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.


Folkestone, Sandgate and Hythe horse tram No 1
The driver of covered, cross-bench car No 1 encourages his charges outside the Royal Oak pub at the bottom of Sandgate Hill. Although the photo is undated, it certainly post-dates the Great War as No 1 was only rebuilt into this form in 1919. The cap badge may possibly be a standard, script-lettering grade badge - 'Driver'. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.


Folkestone, Sandgate and Hythe horse tram
An unidentified horsecar (possibly No 5), clearly marked 'SE&CR', standing outside the Red Lion terminus at Hythe - photo undated, though in view of the large baggy caps, almost certainly taken after the Great War when these became very fashionable. The individual in uniform is probably not a tramway employee, as no other photograph (and there are many) shows a tramway employee wearing a large round cap badge. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.


Folkestone, Sandgate and Hythe Tramways horse tram No 5 crew 1921
Driver and conductor, both in informal attire, pose for the camera outside the Imperial Hotel on Princes Parade - photo dated 1921. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.