Nottingham Corporation Tramways
Nottingham Corporation operated horse-drawn trams for almost four and a half years, the last service was finally withdrawn in 1902. Despite this relatively long period, photos depicting staff are rare, and those that have survived show only drivers, all of whom are wearing greatcoats with high, fold-over collars and kepi-style caps. The caps bore a large cap badge, almost certainly that shown below; this may explain why Nottingham used the word 'Driver' rather than 'Motorman', as the badges were more than likely introduced before electric services were inaugurated. In all likelihood, the uniforms issued to horse tram staff were identical to those issued later to their counterparts working the new electric services (see below).
Conductors were issued with what was, by UK standards, quite an unusual uniform, one that strongly resembled those issued to inspectors elsewhere. This took the form of a single-breasted jacket with hidden buttons (or an hook and eye affair), edged in a finer material than the main body, with upright collars and epaulettes. The collars bore script-lettering of some description, possibly the bearer's grade (this cannot be made out on surviving photographs), whilst an embroidered employee number, preceded by a 'C' (presumably for 'Conductor') was borne on a shield-shaped cloth badge sewn onto the right-hand breast of the bearer's jacket. Caps were in a tall kepi style with a pom pom on top, and bore a large brass cap badge comprising the arms of Nottingham (with bowmen supporters), surrounded by the title - 'CORPORATION TRAMS' - in fretwork lettering inside a garter, all surrounded by a wreath, which was overlain at the bottom by a ribbon containing the bearer's grade - 'Conductor' - which itself was inlaid with dark blue enamel. Although the bowmen supporters were replaced by stags in the official arms of Nottingham in 1908, this change does not appear to have been reflected in the cap badges (and probably the buttons) until some time after the Great War.
In the 1920s, or possibly early 1930s, the uniform was changed to a more modern double-breasted design with two rows of four buttons, three waist-level pockets and lapels; it is unclear whether the latter carried any insignia. The old-fashined kepi-style caps were superseded by military caps - similar to those worn for many years by motormen (see below); the new caps continued to carry the large cap badge, though presumably with stag supporters rather than bowmen. Cap badges (and buttons) were almost certainly issued in chrome from the early-to-mid 1930s through to closure.
Conductors also wore double-breased greatcoats with two rows of five brass buttons (bearing the system title and arms, initially with bowmen, but later on stag supporters - see link) and high, fold-over collars; the latter bore a one-piece, script-lettering system initials badge - 'NCT' - on both sides. The greatcoats also carried the same embroidered cloth employee number badge as the jackets worn underneath, again on the bearer's right-hand side.
It is unclear what uniform was worn by motormen, as surviving photographs always show them wearing double-breasted greatcoats identical to those worn by conductors, but with the shield-shaped cloth badge worn on the bearer's left-hand breast, and with the employee number preceded by a 'D'. Caps were initially in the kepi style, and bore the same large brass cap badge as issued to conductors, but with 'Driver' in the blue enamel ribbon. These caps were however relatively quickly superseded by military-style caps with a tensioned crown (top), though somewhat curiously, this also saw the replacement of the large attractive cap badge by a simple, 'off-the-shelf' script-lettering grade badge - 'Motorman' - presumably brass to match the buttons. This badge was itself superseded - probably around the 1920s - by the previously used cap badge, but this time with stag supporters.These badges were probably issued in chrome from the early-to-mid 1930s until closure.
Inspectors were issued with typical 'tramway inspector' uniforms, which comprised: single-breasted jackets with hidden buttons (or an hook and eye affair), lined in material of a finer quality than the main jacket, and upright collars, the latter probably bore the grade - 'Inspector' - in embroidered script-lettering. Caps were initially in a kepi-style, with a glossy peak and a pom pom on top; these bore a cap badge that was very similar in form to those worn by tramcar staff, but gilded, and with the grade 'Traffic Inspector' in the blue enamel ribbon. Examples of the 'bowmen' (gilt) and stag patterns (chrome) are known, and a gilt version of the latter no doubt existed as well, though an example has yet to come to light. It is also possible that other grades of senior staff badges existed, though none are currently known. The style of uniform (and the cap) more than likely changed in later years, but photographic evidence, which would either confirm or refute this, is currently lacking.
In common with the vast majority of UK tramway systems, Nottingham employed the services of female staff during the Great War to replace male staff lost to the armed services; these ladies were certainly employed as conductresses, and perhaps as motorwomen too, though this remains unclear. Uniforms comprised: tailored, single-breasted jackets with four buttons, a waist belt (with button fastening), two breast pockets (with button closures), collars and epaulettes, along with a matching skirt. Neither the collars nor the epaulettes bore insignia, though some photos do show that a shield-shaped embroidered employee number badge was sometimes affixed to the bearer's left-hand breast pocket. Caps were military in style but with a very large crown (top), and carried the same large cap badge as worn by male conductors.
Horse tram drivers and conductors
Horsecar No 37 on Mansfield Rd, Sherwood - photo taken in the late 1890s, after the corporation take-over, but before they had managed to repaint all the company vehicles they had acquired into full corporation livery. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.
A blow-up of the above photo showing the driver, who is presumably wearing the same style of kepi cap (and cap badge) issued to staff working the new electric services (see below).
An unidentified Starbuck-built horsecar ascending Derby Hill with assistance from two trace horses - photo undated, but certainly taken in the 'corporation' era. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.
Blow-up of the above photo showing the driver, who is wearing a kepi-style cap.
Motormen and conductors
A studio portrait of two NCT conductors (Nos 133 and 76) - photo undated, but probably taken in the late 1890s or the early 1900s. The collars of their greatcoats are edged in a finer material than the main body, with the same material used to embellish the cuffs (with a chevron). Photo courtesy of the John Burford collection.
A blow up of the above photo showing Conductor 133 (the number appears to be embroidered and on a shield-shaped cloth background); the collar badges are brass 'NCT' script initials, andt the cap badge is the early pattern with bowmen supporters (see below).
Nottingham Corporation Tramways 'Conductor' cap badge with 'bowmen' supporters - brass. The bowmen supporters were granted to Nottingham in 1898, and the badge was presumably introduced not long afterwards; although the bowmen were replaced with stags in 1908 (in the official arms), this doesn't appear to have been reflected in the cap badges until after the Great War.
Nottingham Corporation Tramways 'Driver' cap badge with 'bowmen' supporters - brass. Unlike its 'Conductor' equivalent, these badges were probably only worn from 1898 to the early-to-mid Edwardian era, when they were replaced by script-lettering 'Motorman' grade badges.
Nottingham Corporation Tramways greatcoat collar badge - brass. These badges were probably worn between 1898 and the early 1930s, when they were, in all likelihood, replaced by chrome issues.
Four tramway employees pose somewhat stiffly for the camera with what appears to be a brand new Tramcar No 31 (destined for Bulwell), dating the photo to 1901. The conductor (on the tramcar steps) is wearing an unusual style of single-breasted jacket with hidden buttons, whilst the motorman sports a greatcoat. The grades of the two figures standing in the road are unclear, though they may be traffic inspectors. Photo courtesy of the Stephen Howarth Collection.
Tramcar No 102 and crew - photo undated, but as the vehicle is in rebuilt condition with a top cover, and is looking slightly tatty, probably taken in the late Edwardian era (it has no route number so is certainly no later than 1912, when these were fitted to all cars). The conductor is once again wearing a single-breasted jacket with hidden buttons and a kepi-style cap (with standard cap badge), whereas the motorman is wearing a greatcoat with a military-style cap. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.
Staff photo, undated, but probably late Edwardian. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.
A blow-up of the above photo showing three of the conductors. All are wearing single-breasted jackets with hidden buttons and kepi-style caps. Their upright collars appear to carry embroidered script-lettering.
Another blow-up of the above photo, this time showing some of the motormen. They are all wearing double-breasted greatcoats with their employee designation on their left breast; this appears to be a number preceeded by a 'D'. In contrast to conductors, their caps are in a military style and bear a standard, 'off-the-shelf', script-lettering grade badge - 'Motorman' - which would more than likely have been brass to match the buttons.
Script-lettering 'Motorman' cap badge, issued to NCT motormen from around the mid-to-late Edwardian era through to shortly after the Great War - brass.
Nottingham Corporation Tramways 'Conductor' cap badge with 'stag' supporters - brass. Although the stag supporters were granted to Nottingham in 1908, photographic evidence suggests that cap badges with the new device were probably not issued until after the Great War.
Nottingham Corporation Tramways 'Driver' cap badge with 'stag' supporters - brass.
The crew of Tramcar 140 stand at the Mapperley terminus with a service for the Market Place - although the photo is undated, the tramcar bears a 'Route B' indicator, so it can be no earlier than 1933. Both motorman and conductor are clearly wearing large municipal cap badges. Photo by R B Parr, with thanks to the National Tramway Museum.
Nottingham Corporation Tramways 'Conductor' cap badge with 'stag' supporters - chrome. The use of chromium plating as a badge material commenced in the 1930s (see link), so it is likely that these badges saw only very limited use before the tramway system closed. Author's collection.
Nottingham Corporation Tramways 'Driver' cap badge with 'stag' supporters - chrome. Author's collection.
NCT greatcoat collar badge - chrome. This badge probably saw some use very late in the system's life.
A blow-up of the staff photo above showing an inspector, in typical tramway inspector garb with kepi-style cap and prominent cap badge.
Nottingham Corporation Tramways 'Traffic Inspector' cap badge with 'bowmen' supporters - brass/gilt. The pattern of cap badge was presumably worn between 1898 and the end of the Great War. WIth thanks to Talisman Auctions.
Nottingham Corporation Tramways 'Traffic Inspector' cap badge with 'stag' supporters - chrome. It is likely that these badges saw only very limited use before the tramway system closed.
A lovely studio portrait of an NCT Great War tram conductress (No 399). The leather patch was presumably to prevent abrasion from the ticket punch, which would have hung there. Author's Collection.
A blow-up of the above photo showing the cap badge, which is definitely of the 'bowmen' pattern, even though the 'bowmen' supporters had been replaced by stags on the official Nottingham coat of arms some ten years previously. The photo nicely shows the large crown (top) to the cap.
Another photograph of a Nottingham Great War conductress, possibly taken in the same studio as the shot above. Photograph by Hunt & Fryer, 36 Goldsmith St., Nottingham; wit thanks to the Geoff Caulton Collection.
Great War Nottingham Corporation Tramways conductress, curiously without a belt or an employee number. Author's Collection
A well-known shot of a Great War NCT tram conductress and a motorman. The motorman is wearing a script-lettering 'Motorman' cap badge, along with 'NCT' script collar initials. The conductress's uniform is noticably smarter than the one in the preceding photo. With thanks to the Richard Rosa Collection.