Greenock and Port Glasgow Tramways

Summary
The ownership and operation of the Greenock and Port Glasgow Tramways was, for a relatively simple system, disproportionately complicated. The two initial sections of the line were each owned by the Greenock Police Board and the Vale of Clyde Tramways Company, the whole (from 1873 to 1893) being worked by the latter. In 1889 however, the Greenock and Port Glasgow Tramways Company appeared on the scene, opening and operating an extension to Port Glasgow. Around 4 years later (in 1893), the G&PGTCo took over the lease of the Greenock Police Board-owned section (from the VofCTCo), and in 1894, followed this with the VofCTCo-owned section, following its acquisition by the Greenock Police Board.

Photographs have survived which depict staff working the horse-drawn services operated by each of the above companies - these clearly show that both conductors and drivers wore informal but robust attire: great coats, coachmen's coats, jackets and hats, the latter more often than not, the bowler. No badges or licences of any description appear to have been worn.

The G&PGTCo was eventually acquired by the British Electric Traction Company, a concern which at its zenith either owned, part-owned or leased almost 50 tramway concerns across the British Isles. The photos below show G&PGTCo staff wearing the familiar and largely regulation BET uniform; although jackets appeared to vary somewhat between BETCo systems, as well as across the decades, the cap badges, collar designations and buttons invariably followed a standard pattern. Staff working the new electric services were issued with single-breasted jackets with five buttons (presumably brass and of the standard BETCo pattern - see link), a single breast pocket (on the bearer's left-hand side), and upright collars; the latter bore system initials, which somewhat unusually spanned both collars, 'G&P' on the bearer's right-hand side and 'GTCo' on the left-hand side (in individual brass letters). Caps were military in style with a tensioned crown (top) and carried the standard BETCo ‘Magnet & Wheel’ cap badge (see below) with an employee number below (all brass). This style of jacket appears to have been worn until around the time of the Great War, when they were superseded - at least for motormen - by double-breasted 'lancer-style' tunics with two rows of five buttons and upright collars; the latter undoubtedly carried insignia, very probably the same as worn on the older jackets, though photographic evidence is currently lacking.

Tramcar crews were also issued with long, double-breasted great coats with two rows of five buttons, two waist-level pockets (with flap closures), epaulettes and high fold-over collars; whilst the latter were left plain, the epaulettes carried badges of some description, most probably employee numbers.

Inspectors wore single-breasted jackets with hidden buttons (or an hook and eye affair) and upright collars; the jackets were edged in a finer material than the main body of the jacket, with the collars bearing 'Inspector' in embroidered script lettering. Headgear comprised the same military-style caps issued to tramcar crews, but with 'Inspector' (in embroidered script lettering) on a hat band, above which was worn the standard BETCo cap badge. Inspectors were also issued with long, double-breasted great coats with high fold-over collars, but without epaulettes; the collars bore the grade - 'Inspector' - in embroidered script lettering.

In common with the vast majority of UK tramway systems, female staff were employed during the Great War to replace men lost to the armed services; these ladies were initially employed as conductresses, but later went on to drive the trams too. They were issued with tailored single-breasted jackets with five buttons, lapels, two hip pockets, a breast pocket (with buttons closures) and a waist belt (with two button fastenings), along with a medium-length matching skirt; the jackets were devoid of badges. Headgear initially took the form of a felt bonnet with brim, though by the end of the war, these has been superseded by soft-topped baggy caps with glossy peaks; these usually bore the standard BETCo cap badge, though this was frequently substituted for a regimental 'sweetheart' badge.

Images

Horse tram drivers and conductors
Vale of Clyde Tramways Company Greenock horse tram 1870s
Vale of Clyde Tramways Company Horsecar No 9 and crew at the Ashton terminus - photo undated, but very possibly taken in the 1870s.


Vale of Clyde Tramways Company Greenock horse tram crew
Blow-up of the above photo showing the conductor (left) and driver (right), both of whom are wearing informal attire, the latter in typical coachman's gear.


Vale of Clyde Tramways Company Greenock horse tram 1870s
Another photo of the Ashton terminus, on the same day as the shot above, as it is taken from the same negative.


Vale of Clyde Tramways Company Greenock horse tram conductor
A blow-up of the above photo showing the conductor, who is wearing fairly robust attire, presumably designed to protect him against the vagaries of the local weather.


Greenock and Port Glasgow Tramways Company Tram No 8
Greenock and Port Glasgow Tramways Company Horsecar No 8 heading away from the Ashton terminus - photo undated, but probably taken in the mid 1890s.


Greenock and Port Glasgow Tramways Company conductor 1890s
A blow-up of the above photo showing the conductor (his cashbag strap can just be discerned) - he appears to be wearing informal attire, along with a flat cap.


Greenock and Port Glasgow Tramways Company Horse Tram No 3
G&PGTCo Horsecar No 3 taken at Cardwell Bay - photo dated 1898.


Greenock and Port Glasgow Tramways Company Horse Tram conductor and driver
A blow-up of the above photo showing the conductor and driver, both of whom are in informal attire.


Motormen and conductors
Greenock and Port Glasgow Tram No 31 Ashton 1906
Conductor, inspector and motorman with newly rebuilt Tramcar No 31 at the Ashton terminus in 1906.


Greenock and Port Glasgow Tramways tram driver
A blow-up of the above photo showing the motorman (Employee No 49). His cap bears the standard issue British Electric Traction Company 'Magnet & Wheel' cap badge.


Greenock and Port Glasgow Tramways cap badge
British Electric Traction Company ‘Magnet & Wheel’ cap badge, as issued to staff working the G&PGTCo electric services, from 1901 onwards - brass.


Greenock and Port Glasgow Tramways tram conductor
Another blow-up of the shot of Tramcar No 31 above, this time showing the conductor, possibly Employee Number 65. His collar insignia are the system initials, with 'GTCo' clearly visible on his left-hand collar. The precise purpose of the chevron on his sleeve is unclear, but probably denoted good conduct or long service.



Greenock and Post Glasgow Tramways tram and crew
An unidentified tram at what is probably Ashton, together with crew, inspector and another tramway employee - photo undated, but probably late-Edwardian.



Greenock and Port Glasgow Tramway driver
A blow-up of the above photograph showing the figure on the left (probably either a motorman or conductor). Although blurred (the camera has moved), his right-hand side collar initials - 'G&P' - are easily discerned.


Greenock and Port Glasgow Tramways crew
Another blow-up of the above photo showing the two figures on the right, very probably the conductor and motorman.


Greenock and Port Glasgow Tram No 19 and crew
The crew of Tramcar No 19 stand with their charge at Ashton - photo undated, but possibly taken just prior to the Great War.


Greenock and Port Glasgow Tram No 10 and crew 1929
Conductor and motorman with Tramcar No 10 at Ashton in 1929.


Greenock and Port Glasgow Tramcar crew 1929
A blow-up of the above photo showing the conductor (wearing informal attire) and motorman (in 'lancer-style' tunic with missing button). The conductor's hat is almost 'railway-like' in appearance, and carries a non-standard cap badge; what this is remains a mystery, though almost certainly nothing to do with the tramway.


Senior staff
Greenock and Port Glasgow Tramways inspector
G&PGTCo inspector - taken from the 1906 photo above. His overcoat collars and hat band bear his grade - 'Inspector' - in embroidered script lettering, whilst his cap also has the standard BETCo 'Magnet & Wheel' cap badge.


Greenock and Port Glasgow Tramways inspector
G&PGTCo inspector taken from the late-Edwardian photo above. He is wearing a typical inspector's tunic with hidden buttons (or an hook and eye affair), with embroidered grade insignia on both collars and cap. It is entirely possible that he is the same individual depicted in the previous photo.


Greenock and Port Glasgow Tramways inspecotr - Great War
G&PGTCo inspector, taken from 1918 depot shot (see below). The significance of the chevron on the sleeve is unclear; this may simply be embellishment, or may signify long service. Photo courtesy of the National Tramway Museum.


Female staff
Greenock and Port Glasgow Tramways Great War conductresses
The G&PGTCo's first Great War conductresses in their tailored uniforms and felt bonnets (with standard BETCo cap badge). The lady on the left is called Matilda Morgan, and she became the first motorwoman on the system.


Greenock and Port Glasgow Tramways Great War conductresses and drivers
A depot shot featuring what was probably the entire female staff (conductresses and motorwomen) of the G&PGTCo - photo probably taken in 1918.


Greenock and Port Glasgow Tramways Great War conductresses
A blow-up of the above photo showing four of the ladies in their baggy peaked caps.