Dover Corporation Tramways

Summary
Dover was notable for being the first true electric street tramway in the south of England, opening on the 6th September 1897. The corporation ran the services without fanfare or issue for almost 30 years, until the final tram returned to the depot on the last day of 1936.

Staff were initially issued with smart double-breasted jackets with two closely spaced rows of four buttons — presumably brass (see link) — and lapels; the upper part of the latter (i.e., the collars) carried an oval cloth badge with embroidered lettering and an employee number. Caps were in a kepi style with a glossy peak and appear to have carried a script-lettering badge, probably the bearer's grade and more than likely, embroidered. At some point, probably in the Edwardian era, a switch was made to a more modern military style of cap with a tensioned crown (top); these carried a hat band with embroidered lettering. Two variations were used, one with a single row of script lettering (Tramway Conductor or Tramway Driver) and the other with two rows of upper-case lettering (either TRAMWAY CONDUCTOR or TRAMWAY DRIVER). It is likely that the script-lettering variety came first, though both styles were certainly in use at the same time when the staff photo shown below was taken in 1921.

Over the years, the basic style of the uniforms changed little, save for slight alterations to the cut as fashions changed. Jackets remained double-breasted with closely spaced buttons, but with a fifth row added between the lapels and collars at some point. The cloth badge on the upper lapels was dispensed with relatively early on (probably in the late-Edwardian era), being superseded by individual brass employee numbers. Later photographs indicate that conductors and motorman were numbered separately, such that duplicate numbers existed, one assigned to a conductor and another to a motorman.

Tramcar staff were also issued with double-breasted greatcoats with two rows of five buttons, the lapels of which appear to have carried the same insignia as used on the jackets.

The 1921 staff photo below indicates that Dover employed the services of the following senior staff: a checker, two inspectors and an acting-inspector. All three wore identical jackets to the tramcar staff, but without employee numbers. The checker's collars were left plain, whereas inspectors' collars bore an oval cloth badge containing the grade — Inspector — in embroidered script lettering. Caps probably initially bore a very similar badge to the collar badge, though slightly larger, but were superseded by hat bands with upper-case embroidered lettering, TRAMWAY CHECKER and TRAMWAY INSPECTOR on two lines.

Like many tramway systems during the Great War, Dover suffered from a loss of male staff to the armed forces, eventually responding to this by taking on lady staff as conductresses. The only surviving photo of a Great War conductress in a uniform jacket and skirt, rather than a long topcoat, is unfortunately of poor quality (see below), though it does show the jackets to have been single-breasted with a waist belt (with button fastening) and lapels. It is currently unclear what insignia these jackets bore. The long coats worn over the top of the jackets were double-breasted with two rows of six buttons and high fold-over collars; the latter carried the designation 'TRAMWAY CONDUCTOR' — in embroidered upper-case letters — above an employee number. Headgear took the form of a wide-brimmed, dark-coloured straw bonnet — possibly for summer wear — which appears not to have carried any insignia, but instead was sometimes adorned with bows or rosettes, presumably of the ladies' own making. One photo suggests that more robust cloth caps/bonnets were also issued, presumably for winter use.

For a pictorial history of the system, see: 'Dovers Tramways' by Robert J Harley; Middleton Press (1993).

Images

Motormen and conductors
Dover Corporation Tramways Tramcar No 10 and driver
A motorman at the controls of Tramcar No 10 near the Royal Hotel — photo undated, but probably taken around the turn of the century after No 10 had been motorised (it was originally supplied as a trailer). The kepi-style cap appears to bear a badge, possibly of embroidered script-lettering. With thanks to Ray Woodmore.


Dover Corporation Tramways Tram No 6
Fitter, conductor and motorman pictured with Tramcar No 6 outside Maxton depot around the turn of the century. Both men are wearing kepi-style caps with what appears to be a single line of script lettering, very probably an embroidered grade badge. Source unknown.


Dover Corporation Tramways staff photo 1921
A wonderful and rare staff photo by any system's standard, of what is probably the entire Tramways Department, all named, and taken in 1921. As far as uniformed staff are concerned, there are 12 conductors, 28 motormen (called drivers in Dover), 1 checker, 2 inspectors and 1 acting-inspector. Some of the non-uniformed staff are probably the missing conductors. Author's Collection.


Dover Corporation Tramways conductor and driver 1921
A blow-up of the above photo showing Conductor No 15 H Dixon and Motorman No 15 C Matthews, showing that the same employee numbers were issued to each grade, so were in effect duplicated.


Dover Corporation Tramways conductor H Dixon 1921
Conductor No 15, H Dixon. His hat band bears his grade — Tramway Conductor — in embroidered script lettering rather than upper case letters, the latter style being in the overwhelming majority.


Dover Corporation Tramways conductor G Attwood 1921
Another blow-up of the staff photo above showing Conductor No 1, G Attwood. His collars carry his number, whilst his cap bears a hat band with his grade — TRAMWAY CONDUCTOR — in embroidered, upper-case lettering.


Dover Corporation Tramways conductor H Brett 1921
Another blow-up of the staff photo above photo showing Motorman No 1, H Brett. His hat band bears his grade — TRAMWAY DRIVER — in embroidered, upper-case lettering.


Dover Corporation Tramways motormen at Buckland Depot, A Dyer and H Hambrook
Motorman 13 (A Dyer), 5 (?) and 16 (H Hambrook), pose for the cameraman outside Buckland Depot — photo undated, but probably taken in the mid 1920s. Author's Collection.


Dover Corporation Trmaways Tram Driver H Hambrook
A blow-up of the above photo, showing Motorman Hambrook; the top buttons clearly sat between the lapels and collars.


Dover  Corporation Trmways Tram No 3 and crew
The crew of a sadly dilapidated No 3 pose for the cameraman — photo undated, but in view of the poor condition of the vehicle, which was scrapped in 1927, probably taken not too long before then. Author's Collection.


Dover Corporation Tramways Tramcar No 8 and crew
A motorman and conductor with Tramcar No 8 at or near the Maxton terminus in 1926, the year this car was acquired from Darlington Corporation Light Railways. Photo possibly by H Nicol, courtesy of the National Tramway Museum.


Dover Corporation Tramways Tramcar No3 and crew. Hambrook
A very youthful looking conductor and his motorman (possibly H Hambrook), with Tramcar No 3 outside the Swan Hotel with a service for Buckland — photo undated, but definitely taken after 1927 when this car was acquired from West Hartlepool Corporation Tramways. Photo courtesy of the National Tramway Museum.


Dover Corporation Tramways Tram No 4 River Terminus with crew
A motorman and conductor pose for the cameraman at the terminus of the River route with Tramcar No 4 in 1935. Photo courtesy of the National Tramway Museum.


Dover Corporation Tramways Tramcar No 3 at the Pier 1935
A motorman with Tramcar No 3 (an ex-Hartlepool vehicle) at the Pier terminus in 1935. Photo courtesy of the National Tramway Museum.


Senior staff
Dover Corporation Tramways Checker, Mr F Holt 1921
A blow-up of the 1921 staff photo above showing F Holt, who was a checker. Apart from the absence of an employee number on his collars and his hat band — TRAMWAY CHECKER — the uniform is identical to those worn by conductors and motormen.


Dover Corporation Tramways Inspector F Pay 1921
Another blow-up of the 1921 staff photo, this time showing Inspector F Pay. His collars bear an oval cloth badge containing his grade — Inspector — in embroidered script lettering, whilst his cap bears the standard hat band with upper-case lettering, TRAMWAY INSPECTOR.


Dover Corporation Tramways Inspector H Elgar 1921
Yet another blow-up of the 1921 staff photo, this time showing Inspector H Elgar. In contrast to Inspector Pay, he has an oval cloth cap badge containing his grade — Inspector — in embroidered script lettering. This is probably an older style of badge, the upper-case variety likely superseding it.


Dover Corporation Tramways Acting-Inspector A E Binge 1921
Acting-inspector A E Binge. His collars have no employee numbers or grade badges, but is cap does bear the 'old style' of inspector's cap badge.


Dover Corporation Tramways Tramcar No 18 and crew
A photo which claims to show Chief Inspector Pay, which may be an error, or he may have been promoted since 1921. The shot is taken at Buckland with what appears to be a newly outshopped Tramcar No 18 — photo undated, but certainly taken between February 1918 when E H Bond became General Manager (see tramcar rocker panel) and 1923 when this car was withdrawn. Author's Collection.


Female staff
Dover Corporation Tramways conductresses,
Studio shot of eleven Dover conductresses — photo undated, but almost certainly taken during the Great War. The lady on the back row at the extreme left is Mrs Clare Kelby, whilst the lady standing next to her is a Mrs Brewster. Photo courtesy of David Burridge.


Dover Corporation Tramways conductresses
A blow up of the above photo showing one of the conductresses. Her overcoat collars carry the designation 'TRAMWAY CONDUCTOR', along with an employee number, all embroidered. Photo courtesy of David Burridge.


Dover Corporation Trawmays Tram No 23 and Great War conductress
A conductress and motorman aboard Tramcar No 23 — photo undated, but almost certainly taken during the Great War. Source unknown.


Dover Corporation Tramways Great War tram conductress
A blow-up of the above photo reveals the conductress to be wearing a tailored, single-breasted jacket with lapels.