Paisley District Tramways

Summary
Although the Paisley District Tramways Company was always intended to be an electric enterprise, it actually began its operational life as a horse tramway, by virtue of its acquisition of the Paisley Tramways Company on 17th September 1903; however, this situation lasted barely two months, with the last horse service being withdrawn on the 21st November. Fortunately, a photograph has survived of a horsecar which was definitely taken in this short period, and this indicates that tramcar staff continued to wear the informal attire (trousers, jackets and flat caps) that they had worn under the previous regime (see link).

Following electrification, tramcar staff continued to wear informal attire for a short time, as uniforms were apparently late being delivered. The subsequent chronology of the uniforms is unfortunately a little difficult to unravel, but the earliest shots would suggest that tramcar staff were issued with single-breasted jackets with five buttons (bearing the full company title and system initials — see link), two breast pockets (with button closures) and upright collars; the latter carried system initials on both sides — 'P D T' — in individual metal numerals (these were probably brass to match the buttons). Caps were military in style with a glossy peak and tensioned crown (top); they carried a prominent brass cap badge comprising a shield device surrounded by the full company title and a wreath, the whole surmounted by a bishop's mitre.

By 1906 however, the jackets, though essentially very similar, now had epaulettes (with button fastening), and the collar system initials had been replaced by employee numbers (in individual brass numerals). A photograph taken in 1906 on the opening day of the Barrhead route (clearly a special occasion; see below) shows a style of jacket with only the top two jacket buttons showing (i.e. fastened through the jacket), the rest being hidden; this looks to have been a design feature of the jacket rather than an affectation, but appears to have been quickly abandoned, as photos taken subsequent to this show virtually identical jackets, but with all five buttons fastened through the jacket in the normal manner.

Tramcar staff — both male and female — were also issued with long, double-breasted greatcoats; these had two rows of five buttons, high, fold-over collars and epaulettes; no badges of any kind were carried.

Photographs of inspectors are yet to come to light, so it is currently not possible to say what style of uniform they wore.

As with many tramway systems, women were employed in considerable numbers during the Great War to replace men lost to the armed services. By June 1916, a total of 72 ladies were employed, mostly as conductresses, but also as motorwomen, and with at least one taking on the role of inspectress; their numbers had risen to 376 by 1917. Female staff were issued with long Black Watch tartan skirts (as were Glasgow Corporation Tramways ladies; see link), and tailored, single-breasted jackets with five buttons, a waist belt (with button fastening), two breast pockets (with button closures) and high fold-over collars that appear to have been frequently worn unbuttoned. Two types of headgear were worn: baggy caps with a glossy peak, and felt bonnets — both bore the standard company cap badge; whether one was for summer wear and the other for winter, or if one succeeded the other, is currently unclear.

Paisley also recognised its employees, both for 'Good Conduct' and for service rendered. 'Good Conduct' badges appear to have been worn on the left breast of the uniform, whilst long service medals (with ribbons) were presumably only worn on special occasions, as they would have been unsuitable for everyday use.

For a history of the Paisley Tramways Company, see: 'Paisley's Trams and Buses' by A W Brotchie and R L Grieves; N B Traction Group (1986).

Images

Horse tram drivers and conductors
Paisley District Tramways horse tram
Paisley District Tramways Horsecar No 48 at Incle Street Depot in autumn 1903. Somewhat surprisingly, the new owners' name has been applied to the tram, even though all the horsecars were to be withdrawn within two months. The tramcar itself amply reflects the generally parlous state of the previous enterprise.


Paisley District Tramways Tram driver horse
A blow-up of the above photo showing the driver, who is wearing informal, workmanlike attire.


Motormen and conductors
Paisley District Tramways Tram No 8 and driver
A fairly well-used Tramcar No 8 in Hawkhead Rd, suggesting that the photo was taken some while after this vehicle was delivered (1904), possibly 1905 or 1906.


Paisley District Tramways Tram No 8 and driver
A blow-up of the above photo showing the motorman, who is wearing a single-breasted jacket with high, fold-over collars; these appear to bear system initials — 'P D T' — on both sides. He is very probably wearing a cap badge, but this cannot be made out due to the inclination of his head.


Paisley Distirct Tramways Tram No 6 at Barrhead 9th July 1906
A charming and evocative study of Tramcar No 6 at the head of a cavalcade on the opening day of the Barrhead route, 4th July 1906. Of particular note are the assembled and largely barefoot urchins, the state of the road, and the motorman in his ceremonial white gloves, which can hardly have helped him maintain a sure grip on the controls.


Paisley District Tramways conductor 1910
A blow-up of the above photo showing the figure standing to the right of the tram, who is probably a conductor (Employee No 18). The design of the jacket was probably unique to the PDTCo (amongst UK tramway systems), with the top two buttons visible and the rest hidden (the middle one is not a button). The shape of the prominent cap badge is easily made out. The badge on his left breast is a 'Good Conduct' badge (see below for an example).


Paisley District Tramways cap badge
Paisley District Tramways Company cap badge — brass. Author's Collection.


Paisley District Tramways Tram No 23 crew
Conductor and motorman (Employee No 72) pose with Tramcar No 23 at Elderslie Depot — photo undated, but probably taken between 1906 and 1908.


Paisley District Tramways motorman
A blow-up of the above photo showing the motorman, who is wearing a 'Good Conduct' badge on his left breast (see below for an example).


Paisley District Tramways tram No 55 Elderslie Depot
Tramcar No 55 and crew at Elderslie Depot in May 1914. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.


Paisley District Tramways tram driver and conductor Elderslie Depot
A blow-up of the above photo showing the motorman and conductor; the latter is almost certainly wearing a 'Good Conduct' badge on his left breast.


aisley District Tramways tram No 29 and crew - Great War
Conductress and motorman with Tramcar No 29 - photo undated, but almost certainly taken during the Great War or shortly thereafter.


Paisley  District Tramways tram driver Great War
A blow-up of the above photo showing the motorman, whose greatcoat appears, other than the buttons, to be completely devoid of insignia.



Paisley District Tramways long service medal
Ten years long service medal. With thanks to the National Tramway Museum.


Paisley District Tramways long service medal
Fifteen years long service medal. With thanks to Alan Brotchie.


Paisley District Tramways good conduct medal
A 'Good Conduct' badge from the JR Gaunt Ltd Pattern Book Archive. With thanks to Barry Jobling (eBay: frobisher54).


Paisley District Tramways employee
Lastly, a PDTCo employee standing in front of Tramcar No 67, but with an elaborate — and clearly non-standard — cap adornment; it does however strongly resemble badges worn by 'Tramways' bands elsewhere in the UK, so he was in all probability a member of Paisley District Tramways Company band.


Senior staff
Paisley District Tramways celebration
A photograph taken at Elderslie depot taken in 1907 to mark an unknown 50th anniversary. The figure at the controls could possibly be an inspector, though this is far from certain.


Paisley DIstrict Tramways Company inspector
A blow-up of the above photograph showing the figure at the controls. His cap badge is definitely not the standard PDTCo issue.


Female staff
Paisley District Tramways Tram No 441 driver and conductress Great War
Motorman (Jim Grant) and his conductress pose for the cameraman with Tramcar No 41 at Elderslie Depot — photo undated, but probably taken during the Great War or shortly afterwards.


Paisley District Tramways Great War motorman Jim Grant and conductress
A blow-up of the above photo, which although slightly out of focus, does show a PDTCo conductress in company-issued tartan skirt.


Paisley District Tramways Great War tram conductress
A blow-up of the photograph of Tramcar No 29 above, showing the conductress. Like her motorman (see above), her greatcoat appears not to carry badges of any kind, as does her felt bonnet, though the badge may well be present but obscured.


Paisley District Tramways Great Wat staff photo
A Great War shot of Elderslie Depot with a rather motley array of tramcar staff (male and female) as well as a number of fitters. Source unknown.


Paisley District Tramways conductresses
A blow-up of the above photo showing the two types of headgear worn by the female staff (bonnets and baggy peaked caps).