Oldham Corporation Tramways

Summary
Staff working the new electric services, which commenced in 1900, were issued with single-breasted jackets with five buttons (presumably brass - see link), upright collars and epaulettes. The bearer's right-hand collar bore system initials - 'O C T' - in individual letters, whilst the left bore an employee number in individual numerals; the epaulettes were fastened at the neck end with a button, and carried a small municipal shield badge. Caps were military in style with a tensioned crown (top), and bore a script-lettering grade badge - either 'Motorman' or 'Conductor' - above which a municipal shield badge worn (the same pattern as worn on the epaulettes). All badges were initiallly brass. In the late Edwardian era, the collar insignia were altered such that the employee number was now worn on both sides; the number being preceded by a letter, 'C' in the case of conductors, and 'M' in the case of motormen.

At some point prior to the Great War, probably in 1912/13, the grade and municipal shield badge were replaced by a single more elaborate cap badge, which comprised the Oldham shield and motto within a wreath, but without a title of any kind. Motormen's jackets were probably changed at the same time to a double-breasted, 'lancer-style' with two rows of five buttons (narrowing from top to bottom) and upright collars; the latter carried the same insignia as previously. These tunics, as well as those worn by conductors, appear to have been initially issued without epaulettes, though later photos show them with. A final change was made in the mid-1930s to a more modern-looking, double-breasted design with two rows of four buttons and lapels; it is currently unclear what insignia the latter bore.

Buttons and badges exist in brass, nickel and chrome, and it is likely that this order reflects their chronology, with the latter probably making an appearance in the mid-1930s.

Tramcar crews were also issued with long, double-breasted overcoats with two rows of five buttons, high fold-over collars (without insignia) and epaulettes with button fasteners; the latter carried the same insiginia as the jacket epaulettes worn underneath.

Long service was reflected by the issue of an elaborate brass badge comprising the Oldham shield and motto within a garter containing the full system title - 'Oldham Corporation Tramways' - inlaid with blue enamel and surmounted by a wreath; this was probably issued after 5-years service. An embellished version was issued for 10-years service (with a more elaborate wreath and red inlay), with 15 and 20-years service marked by the addition of one and two stars, respectively; it is currently unclear where the stars were placed. The 25-years version is believed to have been made in sterling silver rather than brass. Photographs indicate that these badges were worn on the bearer's upper left jacket sleeve. In later years (probably from the mid-1930s onwards), the material was changed to chrome, and given that they also exist in 'Oldham Corporation Transport' form, it is possible that tramcar staff may even have been issued with these in later years, rather than the 'Tramways' version.

Details of inspectors uniforms are currently unclear, though photographic evidence from the early years suggests that they wore single-breasted jackets with embroidered collars, and military-style caps with a municipal badge and 'Inspector' beneath.

In common with many UK tramway systems, Oldham employed female staff during the Great War to replace men lost to the armed services. These ladies were issued with single-breasted, tailored jackets with four buttons, a waist belt with two buttons, lapels and epaulettes, along with matching knee-length skirts. It is currently unclear what insignia, if any, were carried. Long, single-breasted overcoats were also worn; these had five buttons, off-set to one side, high fold-over collars (without insignia) and epaulettes. The latter were fastened with a button and carried an employee number preceded by a 'C'. Headgear took the form of a cotton bonnet that was worn with one side pinned up, reminscent of Australian practice; these bore the standard brass municipal shield and wreath cap badge.

For a history, see 'Oldham Corporation Tramways' by Arthur Kirby; Triangle Publishing (1998).

Images

Motormen and conductors
Oldham Corporation Tramways tram conductor 262
Oldham Corporation Tramways conductor (Employee No 262) - photo undated, but probably taken around the time the first electric services were introduced (late 1900 onwards). The badges would presumably have been brass to match the buttons. Author's collection.


Oldham Corporation Tramways badge
Oldham Corporation Tramways municipal shield badge - brass. This served as a cap badge - worn above a script-lettering grade badge - and was also worn on the epaulettes. Author's collection.


Oldham Corporation Tramways cap badges
Standard ‘off the shelf’, script-lettering grade badges of the type used by Oldham Corporation Tramways from 1900 to circa 1912/13 - brass.


Oldham Corporation Tramways collar badges
OCT collar initials - brass. Author's collection.


Oldham Corporation Tramways motorman
Studio portrait of Edwin Goddard in his greatcoat, taken in 1903, probably to coincide with his appointment to that position (he was employed from 1903 to 1913). With thanks to John Holmes.


Oldham Corporation Tramways
A group of OCT conductors and motormen pose for an informal shot in Wallshaw Place outside the tramway depot - photo undated, but probably mid-to-late Edwardian. Stephen Howarth collection.


Oldham Corporation Tramways tram 48 and crew
Inspector, conductor and motorman pose with Tramcar No 48 at the Norden terminus - photo undated, but probably taken within a few years of this route opening (1st May 1906). Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.


Oldham Corporation Tramwats Tram No 90 and crew
The crew of Tramcar No 90 captured for posterity at the top of Copsterhill Road - photo undated, but probably taken within a couple of years of No 90's delivery in 1911. Author's collection.


Oldham Corporation Tramways conductor circa 1911
A blow-up of the above photo showing the conductor. His collars have his employee number on both sides ('197'), preceded by a 'C', all in individual numerals/letters.


Oldham Corporation Tramways Tramcar No 42 and crew
Another shot at the top of Copsterhill Road, this time of Tramcar No 42, but taken somewhat later, probably shortly before the Great War. By this time, the earlier badges had been replaced by a prominent, though unmarked (i.e. no system title), municipal cap badge comprising the Oldham shield surrounded by a wreath. The motorman is wearing a 'lancer-style' tunic which is without epaulettes (as is the conductor's). Stephen Howarth collection.


Oldham Corporation Tramways cap badge
Oldham Corporation Tramways cap badge - brass - probably worn from around 1912/13 through to the mid 1920s. Stephen Howarth collection.


Oldham Corporation Tramways Tram No 99 and crew
Tramcar No 99 at Grains Bar on Route No 5, which opened on 4th June 1914 - photo undated, but given the pristine condition of the tram (it was delivered new in 1913), very likely taken in late 1914 or early 1915. Stephen Howarth collection.


Oldham Corporation Tramways staff
Driver Laurie Kenworthy with his conductor, first on Tramcar No 44 in the early 1920s and then on a trolleybus in 1925. In the right-hand shot, he is clearly wearing a badge on the upper left arm of his tunic, almost certainly a 'long service' badge (see below). With thanks to John Holmes


Oldham Corporation Tramways Tram No 96
Conductor and motorman pose with Tramcar No 96 at Mills Hill on Route No 3 - photo dated 19th December 1934. The motorman is once again wearing a 'long service' badge on the upper left arm of his tunic. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.


Oldham Corporation Tramways cap badges
Oldham Corporation Tramways cap badges - nickel (left) and chrome (right). It is unclear when the former was issued (possibly from the 1920s onwards) whereas the latter must post-date the advent of widespread chromium plating, which began in the early 1930s. Author's collection.


Oldham Corporation Tramways long service badge
Oldham Corporation Tramways 'long-service' badge - brass with blue enamel. These were worn on the bearer's upper left jacket sleeve and were probably issued after 5-years service.


Oldham Corporation Tramways long service badge
Oldham Corporation Tramways '10-years long-service' badge - brass with red and blue enamel. These badges were also issued for 15- and 20-years service, but further embellished by the addition of one and two stars, respectively. With thanks to John Holmes and Stephen Howarth for the photo and background information.


Oldham Corporation Tramways badge
Oldham Corporation Tramways 'long-service' badge - chrome with blue enamel. This was probably issued from the mid-1930s onwards when chromium plating came into wider use (see link).


Senior staff
Oldham Corporation Tramways Inspector
Inspector, taken from the photo of Tramcar No 48 above - photo undated, but probably late Edwardian.


Female staff
Oldham Corporation Tramways Great War conductress
Oldham Corporation Tramways Great War conductress. Author's collection.


Oldham Corporation Tramways conductresses
Studio portrait of four Oldham conductresses - photo undated, but certainly taken during the Great War. The lady on the right is probably wearing a make-shift hat as it appears to be faux fur. Author's collection.


Oldham Corporation Tramways Great War tram conductress
A blow-up of the above photo showing the lady on the left. The epaulette insignia, 'C 944' are easily made out. The badge on her left-hand collar is almost certainly a regimental sweetheart badge, in this case, possibly the Grenadier Guards.


Oldham Corporation Tramways conductresses
A group of Oldham Corporation Tramways Great War conductresses. With thanks to John Holmes.


Oldham Corporation Tramways Great War tram conductress
A studio portrait of a lady called Alice, who was very probably an Oldham Corporation Tramways Great War conductress. Author's collection.