Pontypridd Urban District Council Tramways

Summary
For some reason now lost in the mists of time, Pontypridd apparently saw fit not to issue uniforms to its tramcar staff, only agreeing to provide waterproof clothing a year after opening in 1906, with tunics, caps and greatcoats only following as late as 1908/9. Early photographs do however show smartly attired staff, suggesting that although they were not provided with uniforms by the UDC, they were nevertheless expected to wear smart jackets, no doubt self funded! These early jackets therefore bore neither marked buttons nor insignia (see first photo below). The only badge of office appears to have been the military-style caps with tensioned crowns (top), which were presumably issued by the UDC; they bore standard, 'off the shelf', script-lettering grade badges - either Conductor or Motorman - probably in brass.

Following the UDC's decision to provide official uniforms, motormen were issued with double-breasted 'lancer-style' tunics (narrowing from top to bottom, and presumably bearing the UDC title and Pontypridd bridge - see link), with upright collars and epaulettes. Conductors on the other hand, appear to have been issued with double-breasted jackets with two rows of five buttons and lapels (the top set buttoning through the lapels). At some point, possibly in the mid 1920s, conductors' uniforms appear to have been changed to a single-breasted design with five buttons, upright collars and epaulettes (with button closures). The collars on all jackets bore insignia of some kind, probably system initials on one side and an employee number on the other, though these cannot be made out with certainty on surviving photographs. In the late 1920s, the grade badges were supplemented with a large municipal cap badge comprising the full council name around a depiction of Pontypridd bridge, all within a wreath. These were presumably issued in brass.

Greatcoats were double-breasted with two rows of five buttons and high, fold-over collars; they appear to have been devoid of badges.

In common with tramcar staff, inspectors also appear to have had to buy their own clothing, so jackets, although smart, were initially devoid of insignia. Later on, inspectors were issued with standard 'tramway' uniforms for this grade, comprising single-breasted jackets with hidden buttons (or an hook and eye affair), all 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 in a military style with a script lettering Inspector badge, probably on a hat band, again embroidered.

Conductresses were first employed in late 1915 (during the Great War) to replace male staff lost to the armed services. These ladies were issued with long, tailored, 'lancer-style' greatcoats with two rows of five buttons (narrowing from top to bottom) and high, fold-over collars; the collars and cuffs were embellished with piping, but no badges were worn. The coats were worn with breeches (hidden by the long overcoat) and gaiters. Large felt bonnets were issued, which were piped to match the coat, and like the latter, they also appear to have been devoid of insignia. Unlike the vast majority of UK tramway systems, Pontypridd retained its conductresses well beyond the end of the war, only parting company with the last of them in 1926.

For a detailed history of Pontypridd's tramways, including the earlier horse tramway, see 'Passenger Tramways of Pontypridd' by R Large (Oakwood Press; 1977).

Images

Motormen and conductors
Pontypridd-Urban District Council Tram No 5 and crew
Conductor, motorman and inspector (at the controls) pose with what is probably a brand-new Tramcar No 5, dating the photograph to 1905. Author's Collection.


ontypridd-Urban District Council Tram No 5 conductor
A blow-up of the above photograph showing the youthful conductor. Although smartly dressed, he appears to be wearing informal attire without insignia, apart from the cap and cap badge.


Pontypridd Urban District Council Tramways cap badges
Standard 'off-the-shelf-, script-lettering grade badges, of the type used by Pontypridd. It is likely that these were issued in brass. Author's Collection.


Pontypridd Urban District Council Tram No 4 and crew
The crew of Treforest-bound Tramcar No 4 - photo undated, but possibly taken in 1908/9 given that the men appear to be wearing officially issued overcoats. The conductor - William White - is wearing a flat cap. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society; background information courtesy of 'Gathering the Jewels' (see link).


Pontypridd UDC Trmaways Tram No 30
The crew of a rather tatty-looking Tramcar No 20 (built in 1920) pose for the cameraman - photo undated, but probably taken in the late 1920s. In contrast to the motorman, who is wearing a 'lancer-style' tunic, the conductor is wearing a double-breasted jacket with lapels. The latter would also appear to be wearing a badge above his script-lettering grade badge.


Pontypridd Urban District Tramways Tram No 21 and crew
The crew of Tramcar No 21 at Cilfynydd terminus in 1930.


Pontypridd Urban District Tramways Tram No 21 and crew
A blow-up of the above photo showing the conductor and motorman. The conductor is wearing a script-lettering grade badge, along with a large badge comprising the council device within a wreath (see below); the motorman on the other hand is just wearing the latter.


Pontypridd Urban District Council Tramways cap badge
Pontypridd Urban District Council cap badge of the type issued to tramways staff from the mid-to-late 1920s onwards - brass. Author's Collection.


Pontypridd Urban District Council cap badge
Although identical to the brass badge shown above, this chrome issue almost certainly post-dates the demise of the tramway (1931), so was presumably used on the council buses and trolley buses. Author's Collection.


Senior staff
Pontypridd UDC Tramways Inspector 1904
A blow-up of the 1905 photograph at the top of the page showing the inspector. Like the tramcar staff, he appears to be wearing smart but probably self-funded attire (i.e. not officially issued). His cap appears to bear a script-lettering grade badge - Inspector - almost certainly embroidered.


Female staff
Pontypridd Urban District Tramways Great War conductress K Heiron
A studio portrait of a lady who is believed to be a Pontypridd Urban District Council Tramways conductress - photo dated 1918. The photograph was taken in the Studios of Dura Ltd, a company which had several premises in South Wales. Author's Collection.


Pontypridd Urban District Tramways Great War conductress K Heirons
A blow-up of the above photo revealing the uniform, which although of high quality, appears to be completely devoid of insignia.