Dumbarton Burgh and County Tramways

Photographs of tramcar crews without great coats, which inevitably obscure the uniform worn underneath, are rare, however, those that have survived would tend to suggest that motormen and conductors were issued with single-breasted jackets with five butttons (probably plain with a scalloped rim - see link), two breast pockets (with button closures) and upright collars. The latter definitely bore an employee number on the bearer's left-hand side, though the situation with the other side is unclear; most systems had an employee number on one side and system initials on the other, and this may well have been the case with the DC&BTCo. Caps were in a military style with a tensioned crown (top) and bore a standard, 'off-the-shelf', script-lettering grade badge - either 'Motorman' or 'Conductor'; it is unclear whether the badges and buttons were nickel or brass.

In the early years of operation, tramcar crews were also issued with single-breasted overcoats with lapels; it is unclear whether these bore an insignia, though photographs would suggest not. At some point, these coats were replaced by heavier duty great coats, which were in the 'lancer style', i.e. with two rows of buttons narrowing from top to bottom, and with epaulettes and high, fold-over collars; neither the epaulettes nor the collars carried insignia.

Inspectors wore standard 'tramway' uniforms for this grade, comprising single-breasted jackets with hidden buttons (or an hook and eye affair) and breast pockets. The jackets were edged in material of a finer quality than the main jacket, and had upright collars which bore the grade 'inspector' in embroidered script lettering; the sleeves appear to have been embellished with a chevron, again of a finer material than the main body. Caps were in the military style with a script lettering 'Inspector' badge, probably on a hat band, again embroidered. Although they were presumably also issued with overcoats, photographs showing these have yet to come to light.

In common with many tramway systems, the DB&CTCo employed female staff during the Great War to replace men lost to the armed forces, initially as conductresses, and subsequently as motorwomen too. At the end of the war, instead of releasing them, as did the overwhelmingly majority of UK tramway operators, the DB&CTCo continued to employ them as conductresses (only), very probably right through until closure. It is unclear why the ladies were kept on, but as several other provincial Scottish systems did the same, there must have have been a general shortage of men prepared to work on the trams. Several good quality photographs have survived of these ladies, all of which show them in a rather motley assortment of great coats and hats, all devoid of insignia, suggesting that they were either self-purchased, or that the company ordered them off a local supplier, as and when needed. It is unclear what jackets, if any, they wore underneath. One photo has survived from the 1920s, which definitely shows a conductress in a baggy cap with a glossy peak, indiciating that at some point a uniform was probably issued; however, this lady is once again wearing a plain great coat so details of the possibly unfiorm worn underneath are obscured.

My thanks go to Alan Brotchie for providing all the photographs below. For a detailed account of the tramway, see: 'Dumbarton's Trams and Buses' by A W Brotchie and R L Grieves'; N B Traction (1985).


Motormen and conductors
Dumbarton Burgh and County Tramways Tram No 1 on the opening day
Although of rather poor quality, this photo probably shows the crew of Tramcar No 1 on the opening day - 20th February 1907. Both men are wearing military-style caps with standard, 'off-the-shelf', script-lettering grade badges, but with collar, tie and tailored overcoats (seemingly devoid of badges)

Dumbarton Burgh and County Tramways cap badges
Script-lettering 'grade' cap badges of the pattern issued by the DB&CTCo - it is currently unclear whether the company issued these in brass or nickel.

Dumbarton Burgh and County Tramways Tram No 9 and motorman
A poor quality image, but one which shows a motorman in the early years of operation in a unifomr jacket rather than with a great coat; he is at the controls of a pristine Tramcar No 9, dating the photo to 1908.

Dumbarton Burgh and County Tramways Tram No 20 and crew
Tramcar No 20 with motorman and conductress - photo undated, but probably taken during the Great War.

Dumbarton Burgh and County Tramways Tram driver
A blow-up of the above photo showing the motorman; he is wearing a single-breasted tunic with an employee number (5) on his left-hand collar. The large badge above his standard grade badge is more than likely a regimental badge - the wearing of these was very common amongst tramway employees during the Great War, the length and breadth of the country.

Dumbarton Burgh and County Tramways Tram No 9, Charles McKinley and Helen MacKay 1915
Motorman Charles McKinley and Conductress Helen MacKay pose for the cameraman with Tramcar No 9 at the terminus at Balloch on 10th February 1915. The conductress appears to be in completely informal attire, though the coats may have been provided by the company.

Dumbarton Burgh and County Tramways Tram No 9, Charles McKinley
A blow-up of the above photo showing Chas McKinley. His greatcoat is devoid of insignia, and whilst his cap appears to carry a small badge under the crown, this is probably personal adornment rather than a company issue, as it does not appear on any other photos. Magnification of the photo suggests that the buttons were plain with a scalloped rim.

Dumbarton Burgh and County Tramways Tram No 13 and Great War crew
Conductress and motorman photographed with their charge (No 13) at Balloch Station - photo undated, but almost certainly taken during the Great War. The motorman's greatcoat is devoid of badges, and even the buttons are non-metallic.

Dumbarton Burgh and County Tramways Tram No 22
The crew of Tramcar No 22 pose for the cameraman along with an inspector - photo undated, but possibly taken in the 1920s.

Senior staff
Dumbarton Burgh and County Tramways Inspector
Ablow-up of the photo above showing the inspector. He is wearing a fairly typical tramway inpsector's uniform, with his grade embroidered on each collar and on his cap.

Female staff
Dumbarton Burgh and County Tramways Great War tram conductress
A blow up of the photo above of Tramcar 20 showing the conductress. She is clearly wearing informal attire, inclusive of the overcoat and the bonnet.

Dumbarton Burgh and County Tramways Great War tram conductress Helen MacKay
Conductress Helem MacKay photographed in 1915, and taken from the photo of Tramcar No 9 above. Her overcoat is completely devoid of insignia, suggesting that it was either self-purchased, or that the company simply purchased these without going to the trouble of ordering anything that would mark the wearer out as a tramway employee. Her cap takes the form of a woollen bonnet, presumably self-knitted!

Dumbarton Burgh and County Tramways Great War tram Great War conductress
Another blow-up of a photo above, this time of Tramcar No 13, showing the conductress. Although her outfit has the semblance of a uniform, the fact that it has neither insignia nor metallic buttons would tend to indicate that it was not issued by the company. Her bonnet has a hat band, but again no sign of a badge.

Dumbarton Burgh and County Tramways Tram conductress
The conductress seen in the photo of Tramcar No 22 above, which was probably taken in the 1920s. The quality of the photograph makes it difficult to come to any firm conclusions, though she is wearing what appears to be a uniform cap; the coat again appears to be devoid of insignia.