Dublin Southern District Tramways Company

The DSDTCo was a subsidiary of the Imperial Tramways Company (ITCo), beginning life as a horse tramway operator in March 1879, running steam services between 1881 and 1884, and expanding in 1893 by virtue of the ITCo's take-over of its near neighbour, the Blackrock and Kingstown Tramway. Electrification took place in May 1896, and the company was sold to the Dublin United Tramways Company a mere four months later.

Although the DSDTCo ran horse trams for just over 17 years, it would appear that only a single photograph has survived which depicts a driver and conductor. What follows is therefore based on just a single piece of evidence, which is not securely dated, though it was more than likely taken in the 1890s. This image suggests that drivers, like many of their ilk across the British Isles, simply wore smart but informal attire (jacket and trousers), along with the horse driver's favoured headgear of the period, the bowler hat. Whilst conductors were probably issued with uniform jackets, they definitely wore kepi-style caps, and these appear to have borne a prominent cap badge. None of these badges appear to have survived, so it is currently impossible to state what form they took.

Fortunately, a really good photograph survives which was taken on or around the opening day of the newly electrified line, which not only shows a number of conductors and a motorman, but also two inspectors. Assuming conductors and motormen wore the same uniforms (this is not 100% clear), jackets for both were single-breasted with four buttons (of unknown pattern) and lapels; the upper part of the latter carried insignia of some kind, very likely embroidered, and possibly comprising the system initials. The DUTCo, which took over the tramway some four months later, seems to have adopted the same style of uniform, but without the collar insignia. Trousers, unlike those of the DUTCo, were piped. Headgear took the form of a smart, heavily piped kepi-style cap, which bore a large, elaborate cap badge; the latter was probably cloth given that none have survived, and the DUTCo, which adopted the same style of cap and badge, definitely used cloth badges (see link).

Inspectors wore typical tramway inspector garb, namely: single-breasted jackets edged in a finer material than the main body of the jacket, and closed with a hook and eye arrangement rather than buttons. The upright collars bore some kind of insignia, probably the grade. Caps were again in the kepi-style, and like platform staff, they bore a large, elaborate cap badge, probably of embroidered cloth.

Further reading
For a short history of Dublin's tramways, see: 'Through Streets Broad and Narrow' by Michael Corcoran; Midland Publishing (2000). For a specific history of the DSDTCo, see: 'Dublin Southern District Tramways' by A T Newham, in the Tramway Review, Nos 46 (p138-144), 47 (p159-168) and 48 (p171-180); Light Railway Transport League (1966).


Horse tram drivers and conductors
Dublin Southern District Tramway horse tram 1880s
A very rare photo of a DSDTCo toastrack tram, positively identified from the route board on the roof, which reads: 'Kingstown & Dalkey'. The photo is thought to have been taken in the mid 1890s, though the headgear of the driver suggests that it may well be earlier. The location is Upper Georges St, Kingstown (now Dun Laoghaire). Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.

Dublin Southern District Tramways horse tram 1880s
A blow-up of the above photo, which although of poor quality, clearly shows that the driver is wearing informal attire, whilst the conductor has a kepi with a prominent cap badge, and possibly a uniform jacket too.

Motormen and conductors
Dublin Southern District Tramways trams 32 and 20 1896
A view thought to have been taken on or around the opening day of the DSDT's electric services — 16th May 1896 — which probably explains the presence of two inspectors, and the pristine condition of the trams, unsullied by advertisements. The front vehicle is No 20 and its trailer is No 32. Photo courtesy of Jim Kilroy, tram archivist at the National Transport Museum (see link).

Dublin Southern District Tramways tram and crew 1896
A blow-up of the above photo showing a conductor, two inspectors and the motorman.

Dublin Southern District Tramways conductor
Another blow-up, this time showing the conductor; his kepi-style cap is piped and carries a prominent cap badge, an example of which is yet to come to light. Although the jacket and trousers are very similar — stylistically — to the later DUTCo uniforms, there are subtle differences, notably the use of collar insignia on the jacket and piping on the trousers.

Senior staff
Dublin Southern District Tramways inspectors, 1896.
Another blow-up of the photo above, showing the two inspectors. Both of them are wearing typical tramway inspector apparel: single-breasted jackets with hook and eye fasteners, edged in a finer material than the main body of the jacket, and with a kepi-style cap topped by a pom pom. The collars carry some kind of insignia, very probably embroidered, whilst the kepi-style cap carries a prominent cap badge. Whether the latter differed from the cap badges of conductors and motormen is currently unknown.