Rawtenstall Corporation Tramways
Following its take-over of the Rossendale Valley Tramways Company on 1st October 1908, Rawtenstall Corporation became a steam tram operator, a situation which lasted barely 8 months, but one which saw it go down in history as the last operator of steam tramway services in England! Under the corporation, steam tram drivers continued to wear the railway footplate-like attire they had worn in company days, namely: heavy duty cotton jackets and trousers, along with greasetop caps or flat caps, all of which were devoid of badges or markings. Conductors however, were issued with 'corporation' uniforms, which consisted of single-breasted tunics with five buttons, two breast pockets (with button fastenings), epaulettes (with piping) and upright collars; the latter carried individual ‘R C T’ letters on the right-hand collar and an employee number on the left. Caps were in a taller military style with a tensioned crown (top), and piped hat band, and carried a standard 'off the shelf' script-lettering cap badge - ‘Conductor’ - probably in nickel.
Conductor's uniforms continued unchanged into the electric era (July 1909), whereas motormen (a new position) were issued with double-breasted cross-over style tunics with two rows of five buttons (presumably nickel - see link), piped epaulettes and upright collars. As was the case with conductors, the latter carried individual ‘R C T’ letters on the right-hand collar and an employee number on the left. Motormen's caps were identical to conductors', save for the script-lettering 'Motorman' cap badge.
Shortly after the inauguration of electric services, an elaborate muncipal cap badge was introduced, which was worn above the script-lettering grade badge. This new badge comprised the arms, crest and motto of Rawtenstall within a wreath, above the full system title in a ribbon: 'Rawtenstall Corporation Tramways'. Around the same time, or perhaps shortly afterwards, the 'Motorman' cap badges appear to have been displaced in favour of 'Driver'. Tramcar staff were also issued with long single-breasted overcoats with five buttons and lapels.
At some point after 1921, more modern, double-breasted jackets were introduced; these had with two rows of five buttons (see below) and lapels. Some kind of designation, possibly a municipal coat of arms badge or employee number, appears to have been worn on the latter.
Inspectors wore single-breasted jackets with hidden buttons, braiding and upright collars; the latter probably carried the designation ‘Inspector’ in embroidered script lettering, though this cannot be made out with any certainty. Inspectors wore the same style caps as tramcar staff, but with ‘Inspector’ in embroidered script lettering. Inspectors also wore long double-breasted overcoats with two rows of four buttons and lapels; the latter almost certainly carried the 'Inspector' in embroidered script lettering.
As was the case for the vast majority of UK tramway operators, Rawtenstall employed female staff during the Great War to replace the men lost to the armed services. It is currently unclear what tunics were worn, but the one surviving photograph (see below) does show that conductresses were issued with single-breasted, tailored overcoats with six buttons, a waist belt, piped epaulettes and high fold-over collars; the latter do not appear to have carried any insignia. Headgear consisted of a felt bonnet with headband, to which was affixed the standard municipal tramways cap badge, and very probably a script-lettering grade badge.
For a detailed history of the steam era, see 'A History of the British Steam Tram Volume 4' by David Gladwin; Adam Gordon (2008).
Steam tram drivers and conductors
One of a number of postcard views of Rawtenstall's steam trams, which had by the date of this photo - July 1909 - become the last vestige of this particular form of street traction in England. The conductor is wearing the standard Rawtenstall uniform that was also issued to staff working the replacement electric services. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society.
Another "Last of…" photo, taken in July 1909. The conductor is wearing the same style of single-breasted jacket and military cap that were used on the replacement electric services. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society.
Motormen and conductors
Motorman (Albert Incles) and his conductor posing with what is evidently a brand new Tramcar No 3. The photo was taken at Lamb Row, Lockgate, very probably on the first day of operation (15th May 1909); there is clearly damage to the dash of the otherwise immaculate vehicle, and this tram - driven by Albert Incles - is known to have been involved in a collision with a greengrocer’s van in Rawtenstall on that day. The line to Bacup was not actually opened until some two months after this photo was taken, and in any case, the tram is facing the wrong way; therefore, it seems likely that this shot was specially posed at the request of the photographer so that he would be well-placed to sell postcards when the Bacup line eventually opened! With thanks to Richard Hargreaves for the background information, and to Duncan Holden for the photograph.
Rawtenstall Corporation Tramways staff photo - 1909. Note that both motormen and conductors are wearing script-lettering cap badges only. With thanks to Richard Hargreaves.
A blow-up of the above photo (showing Motorman No 4) revealing the individual ‘R C T’ metal letters on the right-hand collar and the employee number on the left-hand collar.
Standard 'off-the-shelf' script-lettering cap badges of the type initially worn by Rawtenstall staff - nickel.
Motorman and conductor on the platform of Tramcar No 15 as it climbs the hill towards Haslingden - photo undated, but probably late Edwardian. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society.
Conductor and motorman pose with Tramcar No 13 on a service bound for Accrington - photo undated, but probably taken not long after delivery of this car (1909), given its excellent condition. Both men are wearing the new elaborate municipal cap badge (see below), with a script-lettering grade badge underneath. Photo courtesy of the Stephen Howarth Collection.
Rawtenstall Corporation Tramways cap badge - nickel
The crew of Tramcar No 22 pose for the cameraman near the terminus at Water - photo undated, but probably taken prior to the Great War. Photo courtesy of Duncan Holden.
Another photograph taken near the terminus at Water, this time of Tramcar No 15 and crew - photo undated but probably taken around the time of the Great War.
Conductor and motorman posing with Tramcar No 19, taken at Lumb Baptist on the Waterfoot to Water section - photo undated, but probably taken shortly before the Great War. This vehicle was one of a batch of six delivered in 1912, which were primarily intended to work the steeply graded route to Water. Note the municipal cap badge and that fact that the ‘motorman’ script-lettering cap badge has evidently been replaced with a ‘Driver’ badge. The conductor is wearing a straw boater, and may just be the same individual seen wearing one in the previous photo.
Script-lettering 'Driver' cap badge - nickel. These badges appear to have replaced their 'Motorman' counterparts within a few short years of opening.
A line-up of Rawtenstall staff, some undoubtedly bus men, taken at the parade to mark the closure of the system in March 1932. The individual standing behind the two children is probably an inspector. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society.
Driver and conductor posing with Tramcar No 11 - photo undated, but probably taken in Queen Square, Rawtenstall to mark the closure of the system in March 1932. Note the more modern tunics, and the use of a ’Driver’ rather than a ‘Motorman’ script-lettering badge. With thanks to Richard Hargreaves
Driver Sam Doran and Conductor Jack Wallwork pose with Tramcar No 4 - photo undated, but probably taken in Queen Square, Rawtenstall to mark the closure of the system in March 1932. The photo was definitely taken no earlier than 1931 as there is a bus in the background (Fleet No 33; not shown), which was only delivered in that year. With thanks to Richard Hargreaves.
A blow-up of the 1909 staff photo above showing the inspector - the cap badge appears to be embroidered.
An inspector stands before the steam tram used in the 'last day' parade at Rawtenstall. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society.
Another 'last day' shot showing an inspector on Bacup Rd near Rawtenstall Town Hall, and just outside the depot. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society.
…and yet another. Probably the same inspector as depicted in the previous photograph. Stephen Howarth Collection.
Great War Rawtenstall Corporation Tramways conductress. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society.