Edinburgh Street Tramways

The Edinburgh Street Tramways Company began its life in 1871, expanding significantly and then contracting in three distinct stages (1893, 1896 and 1898) as Edinburgh Corporation purchased its lines, leasing them to its competitor, the Edinburgh and District Tramways Company. The ESTCo finally expired in 1904 when its last line was purchased by Leith Corporation.

Photographs of staff from the early years appear not to have survived, but according to D L G Hunter (see below for reference), dark blue uniforms were issued in 1874; these had green or red collars (for drivers and conductors, respectively). Caps were almost certainly in a kepi-style and bore piping around the circumference (approximately two-thirds the way up); the colour of the piping initially corresponded to the colour of the route the tram and crew were allocated to, though this system seems to have quickly fallen into disuse. Other than this, the caps were plain, i.e., they bore no cap badge. Later photographs show staff wearing single-breasted jackets with four buttons (bearing the full company title and twin shields — see link) and lapels, the upper parts of which (the collars) bore 'E S T' initials in individual metal letters, probably nickel. Staff were also issued with double-breasted overcoats with two rows of four buttons and high, fold-over collars; the latter carried 'E S T' initials on each side, almost certainly in nickel.

There is circumstantial evidence to suggest that crews, as well as trace horse boys, may at one time have been issued with armbands bearing a brass number; however, neither an example nor photographic evidence has survived.

Inspectors wore double-breasted jackets with lapels, the upper part of which (the collars) bore the grade — Inspector — in embroidered script lettering. Caps were of the 'pill box' variety with a glossy peak and chin strap, with a single line of piping (of a light colour) around the circumference, approximately half-way up, and a pom pom in the centre on the crown (top); no cap badge was worn. The uniforms were changed some time in the mid 1890s — although remaining double-breasted, they now bore elaborate 'E S T' initials on each collar, rather than Inspector. Caps were by now slightly squatter than previously, and bore a wide hat band of a lighter colour than the cap, around the circumference (at the bottom).

Further reading
For a detailed history of the Edinburgh Street Tramways Company, see: 'Edinburgh's Transport - Volume 1, The Early Years' by D L G Hunter; The Mercat Press (1992).


Horse tram drivers and conductors
Edinburgh Street Tramways staff photo
ESTCo staff photo — undated, but probably taken in the early to mid 1890s. Apart from the top-hatted gentleman (presumably the General Manager or a major shareholder), the only other senior staff member present is an inspector seated immediately next to him on the right.

Edinburgh Street Tramways Company drivers and conductors
A blow-up of the above photo showing a group of conductors and drivers. Whilst their collars bear 'E S T' initials (on both sides), their kepi-style caps are plain, save for a band of piping around the circumference.

Edinburgh Street Tramways Horse Tram No 29 Bernard St terminus
ESTCo Horse Car No 29 at the Bernard St terminus — photo undated, but probably taken in the early to mid 1890s.

Edinburgh Street Tramways Horse Tram crew
A blow-up of the above photo showing the crew. The overcoats bear 'E S T' initials on the collars; the kepi-style caps are as usual without a badge of any kind.

Senior staff
Edinburgh Street Tramways Company senior staff - 1892
An excellent photograph of what is probably the entire senior staff of the Edinburgh Street Tramways Company. Although the photo is undated, the poster in the window of the tram advertisers the 'Meister Glee Singers', who opened at the Empire Palace on 7th November 1892 (with thanks to Alan Brotchie for this information). The man seated to the right of the top-hatted gentleman is the same individual who is seated to the right of the same gentleman in the staff photo shown above.

Edinburgh Street Tramways inspector 1892
A blow-up of one of the inspectors above, showing details of the uniform, including the embroidered 'Inspector' grade badges on the collars. The cross on his right-hand sleeve probably signifies membership of a volunteer group such as the St Johns Ambulance Brigade.

Edinburgh Street Tramways Company Inspector 1892
Another blow-up of the 1892 senior staff photo above, revealing the pom pom on top of the kepi-style cap of this splendidly mutton-chopped individual.

Edinburgh Street Tramways Inspector 1898
The same individual as above, but six years later (see below). Note the new uniform with elaborate 'E S T' embroidered initials rather than the bearer's grade.

Edinburgh Street Tramways Company senior staff - 1898
Half of a large photograph of the ESTCo's senior staff taken on or shortly before the 9th May 1898 (date on the photo mount) at Leith depot, Smith's Place, Leith Walk. By this time, the ESTCo was a much smaller organisation, having shrunk dramatically from its zenith, as its routes were taken over by Edinburgh Corporation and leased to the Edinburgh and District Tramways Company.

Edinburgh Street Tramways Inspector 1898
Another blow-up of the 1898 photo, showing an inspector.