Dundee and District Tramways

The Dundee and District Tramway Company began horse-drawn operations in 1877, and though it quickly introduced steam traction, it never in fact managed to completely eliminate horse traction. The company and its assets were taken over by Dundee Corporation in 1899, who continued to operate horse and steam services until their final displacement by electric services in 1902.

Drivers and conductors working the horse-drawn services wore informal but heavy duty attire, namely: jackets, trousers and the popular headgear of the area and era, bowler hats, bonnets (caps) and even deer stalkers. This situation appears to have remained unchanged for the first 18 or so years of the system's life, but by the mid 1890s, the company had clearly decided that uniforms should be worn; these appear however to have varied in style, with photos showing single-breasted jackets, and both short and long double-breasted overcoats, suggesting that they may initially have been self purchased, a not uncommon tramway company policy at the end of the 19th Century. Caps were in a kepi-style, with a shiny horizontal peak. Neither the jackets nor the caps carried any form of company insignia, and even the buttons appear to have been plain.

Steam tram drivers wore typical railway footplate-like attire: heavy duty jackets and trousers, with either greasetop or flat caps, all without badges of any kind. Conductors wore identical attire to their horse tram colleagues.

Peter Fisher, who was manager of the company in 1898 later wrote a report which has survived, and which contains a rather curious statement on the company's uniform policy, namely: "It is usual to provide conductors with a complete uniform, greatcoat, tunic, trousers and cap. Trousers should only be supplied to men who have been in service for at least one year"!

It is unclear what uniforms were worn by inspectors, or indeed whether the company employed them, though a single photo below suggests that they may have done.

My thanks go to Alan Brotchie for providing the excellent quality photographs and much background information, including the Fisher statement above. For a history of Dundee's tramways, see: 'Tramways of the Tay Valley' by A W Brotchie'; Dundee Museum and Art Gallery (1965).


Horse tram drivers and conductors
Dundee and District Tramway Horse Tram CI and driver
A very early shot of Horsecar C.I. at the terminus at Dalhousie Terrace in 1879. The driver is wearing robust but informal attire, typical of horse bus and coach drivers.

Dundee and District Tramway Horse Tram No 22 and crew
A shot showing the driver and conductor of Horsecar No 20, along with an unidentified individual, in Perth Road — photo undated, but judging by the pristine condition of the tram, probably not long after its delivery in 1891.

Dundee and District Tramway Horse Tram No 22 and crew
A blow-up of the above photo showing the crewmen in their robust but clearly informal attire.

Dundee and District Tramway Horse Tram No 22 and crew
Two conductors with Horsecar No 22 (which was new in 1895), in Perth Road outside the depot in November 1896. By this time, the company had clearly begun issuing uniforms or perhaps requiring the men to buy them, even though they bore no badges whatsoever.

Dundee and District Tramway Horse Tram No 22 and crew c1897
Another shot of Horsecar No 22, again in Perth Rd, with a conductor (left) and two other tramway employees, all of whom seem very blase about having their photograph taken — November 1896.

Dundee and District Tramway Horse Tram No 22 and crew c1897
A blow-up of the above photo, clearly showing that the uniforms were completely devoid of insignia.

Steam tram drivers and conductors
Dundee and District Tramway Steam Tram No 13 and crew c1897
A rather unusual shot of the crew of Steam Tram No 13 (a Thomas Green product delivered in 1894) with the side access flap open — photo undated, but probably taken circa 1897.

Dundee and District Tramway Steam Tram crew c1897
A blow-up of the above photo showing the driver and conductor. Although the latter is clearly wearing a uniform, it is completely devoid of insignia.

Senior staff
Dundee and District Tramway inspector
A photo of an individual taken opposite the tram depot in Perth Road — undated. It is possible, though far from certain, that he is a D&DTCo inspector.