Paisley District Tramways

The Paisley District Tramways Company, though always intended as an electric enterprise, operated horse trams following its takeover of the Paisley Tramways Company on 17th September 1903, though they only lasted a mere two months before the last service was withdrawn on the 21st November. Fortunately, a photograph has survived of a horsecar in this period, which indicates that tramcar staff continued to wear the informal attire (trousers, jackets and flat caps) that they had worn under the previous regime.

Following electrification, platform staff continued to wear informal attire for a short time, as uniforms were late being delivered. The subsequent chronology of the uniforms is 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 - 'P D T' - in individual metal numerals on both sides (these were probably brass to match the buttons). Caps were in a military style with a glossy peak and tensioned crown (top); they probably carried the same 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) seen in later photographs.

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though essentially very similar, now had epaulettes (with button fastening), and the collar system initials had been replaced by employee number (in individual brass numerals). Curiously, a photograph taken on the opening day of the Barrhead route in this year (a special occasion) shows that only the top two jacket buttons were fastened through the jacket, the rest being hidden; this looks to have been a design feature of the jacket, 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.

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 drivers, and even as an inspector; their numbers had risen to 376 by 1917. Female staff were issued with long Black Watch tartan skirts (as were Glasgow Corporation Tramways ladies), and tailored, single-breasted jackets with five buttons, a waistbelt (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.

The style of uniform worn by inspectors is unclear, as photographic evidence is currently lacking.

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).


Horse tram drivers and conductors
Paisley District Tramways
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 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. The motorman is wearing a single-breasted jacket with high, fold-over collars; these appear to be system initials - 'P D T' - on both sides. He is 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 prominent cap badge is easily seen. The badge on his left breast is a 'Good Conduct' badge (see below for an example).

Paisley District Tramways cap badge
Paisley Distirct Tramways Company cap badge - brass.

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 Distirct 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 Trawmays
Motorman and conductor pose with Tramcar No 55 in Elderslie Depot in May 1914. The conductor is almost certainly wearing a 'Good Conduct' badge on his left breast. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.

Paisley 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 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 Tramwaysgood 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 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 may 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 Distirct Tramways Tram No 41, motorman and conductress
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. Although slightly out of focus, it 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 motely array of tramcar staff (male and female) as well as a number of fitters.

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).