Guernsey Tramways (Railway)

Summary
Guernsey's sole tramway began life in 1879 under the auspices of the Guernsey Steam Tramway Company, which operated steam-hauled services for just short of a decade, until their suspension in early 1889. Some seven months later, services were restarted by the Guernsey Railway Company, a concern which eventually oversaw electrification of the line in 1893, and ultimately, its closure in 1934.

As with most steam tramway concerns, the Guernsey Steam Tramway Company issued its drivers with railway-footplate type clothing (e.g., heavy cotton jackets and trousers, usually light in colour), along with cotton or flat caps. Conductors wore informal but smart attire: jacket, shirt and tie, along with the fashionable headgear of the day, which in Guernsey's case seems to have been a little more idiosyncratic than was perhaps the case on the mainland. No change appears to have been made in this policy following the Guernsey Railway Company takeover of 1889.

Electric services were introduced in 1892, and were initially operated by Siemens Brothers and Company Ltd, with the GRCo only taking over in spring 1893. It is possible that staff working these services wore informal attire, as although photographic evidence is unclear, records clearly state that staff were only first issued with uniforms in 1897. These were of blue serge with yellow or red piping and probably comprised single-breasted jackets with lapels, which were worn along with soft-topped, military-style caps; it is unclear whether either jackets or caps carried insignia of any kind. In the mid-to-late Edwardian era, staff were issued with double-breasted, 'lancer-style' tunics with two rows of five buttons (narrowing from top to bottom) and upright collars; the latter bore an employee number on the left-hand side and individual 'G R' initials on the right-hand side. Caps continued to be in a soft-topped military style, but now carried script-lettering grade badges, either Motorman or Conductor; it is currently unclear whether the badges and buttons were brass or nickel. By the time of the Great War, photographs suggest that a switch had been made to single-breasted jackets with five buttons, two breast pockets (with button closures), and upright collars; all insignia being as previously carried.

Towards the end of the system's life, the company appears to have adopted a policy of 'anything will do', as numerous photographs show staff wearing uniforms without badges, and conductors wearing informal attire with whatever cap was to hand, even motormen's caps.

Only one photograph appears to have survived depicting an inspector (from the late Edwardian or early George V era), and this indicates that they wore standard senior staff tramway uniforms comprising single-breasted jackets with hidden buttons (or more likely a hook and eye affair), edged in material of a finer quality than the main jacket. The jackets had upright collars which bore the grade Inspector in embroidered script lettering. Caps were the same style as those worn by tramcar staff, but bore a script lettering Inspector badge, almost certainly embroidered.

In common with many tramway systems, Guernsey employed female staff during the Great War to replace men lost to the armed services; these ladies were issued with tailored double-breasted jackets with two closely spaced rows of five buttons. The jackets had two hip-level flap pockets and lapels, and were worn with long matching skirts. The upper lapels bore insignia of some description, probably identical to that carried on the mens collars. Caps appear to have been identical to those issued to the men, and with the same badges.

For a detailed history, see 'Guernsey's Trams' by John Carman.

Images

Steam tram drivers and conductors
Guernsey Steam Tramway Company Steam Tram No 2
Guernsey Steam Tramway Company No 2, a Merryweather product, along with a Starbuck open-topped trailer (either No 5 or 6) and a Starbuck enclosed trailer (probably No 1) — photo undated, but as the middle vehicle was rebuilt in the first year of operation, it must have been taken in 1879. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.


Guernsey Steam Tramway driver
A blow-up of the above photo showing the driver, who is wearing typical railway footplate attire, along with something akin to a baker's or matelot's hat, though this may simply be a trick of the camera angle.


Guernsey Steam Tramway Company Steam Tram and trailers on opening day
Merryweather steam tram (No 1 or No 2) and Starbuck-built trailers No 2 (middle), and either No 3 or No 4 (left) — photo purportedly taken on the opening day, 6th June 1879. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.


Guernsey Steam Tramway Company conductor
A blow-up of the above photo showing the conductor, who is clearly in informal attire, topped off by a tall hat that seems distinctly old fashioned even for this early date.


Geurnsey Railway steam tram No 1
Steam Tram No 1 and Trailer No 2 at Salerie in Guernsey Railway days — photo undated, but probably taken in the early 1890s. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.


Guernsey Railway Steam Tram No 1 at Salerie
A blow-up of the above photo showing the footplate crew and the conductor, the latter leaning nonchalantly on the platform railings and clearly wearing informal attire.


Motormen and conductors
Guernsey Railway Company Tram No 10
Guernsey Railway Tram No 10 — photo undated, but probably taken around the turn of the century. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.


Guernsey Railway driver, 1900s
A blow-up of the above photo, showing one of the tramcar staff in the type of uniform worn between 1897 and the mid Edwardian era.


Guernsey Railway Company Tram No 5 1929
Two conductors and a motorman pose with a very battered looking Tramcar No 5 at Post Office Corner, St Sampson's Bridge on the 23rd July 1929. Photo by Dr H Nicol, courtesy of the National Tramway Museum.


Guernsey Railway Company motorman and conductor 1929
A blow-up of the above photo showing one of the motormen (presumably in charge of the tramcar behind No 5) and a conductor. Uniform policy was seemingly a little lacks by this time, as the conductor appears to be wearing informal attire, including a rather snazzy shirt and tie, along with a motorman's cap!


Guernsey Railway cap badges
General pattern script-lettering cap badges — Motorman and Conductor — of the type used by the Guernsey Railway Company from around the mid-Edwardian era onwards. It is currently unknown whether the badges were brass or nickel.


Guernsey Railway Company conductor 1929
Another shot taken in 1929 by Dr H Nicol, this time of the conductor of Tramcar No 8 at the passing loop outside the Red Lion. Apart from his cap, the individual depicted appears to be wearing informal attire. Photo by Dr H Nicol, courtesy of the National Tramway Museum.


Guernsey Railway Co Tram No 6 at St Sampson's Harbour
Tramcar No 6 and crew at St Sampson's Harbour on 23rd July 1929. Photo by Dr H Nicol, courtesy of the National Tramway Museum.


Guernsey Railway Company tram motorman
A blow-up of the above photo showing the motorman, who appears, unlike the previous photos, to have collar designations.


Guernsey Railway Company tram No 7
Tramcar No 7 and another unidentified tram, along with their respective crews, waiting at the St Peter Port terminus. Photo undated, but probably taken in 1929 by Dr H Nicol, courtesy of the National Tramway Museum.


Guernsey Railway Company tram crews
A blow-up of the above photograph showing the two motormen and one of the conductors, two of whom are in informal attire, apart from their caps.