Nelson Corporation Tramways

Photographs of Nelson Corporation Tramways staff are far from common, though perhaps expectedly so given the small size of the system (2.74 miles). The first photo below indicates that staff initially wore single-breasted jackets with lapels, though somewhat unusually for a tramway system, these appear to have been worn with white shirts and bow ties! Caps were in a soft-topped, military-style with a glossy peak and bore script-lettering cap badges, either Conductor or Motorman, presumably in brass to match the buttons (see link).

Uniforms were subsequently changed (probably in the mid-to-late Edwardian era) to a more traditional tramway style. Conductors were now issued with single-breasted tunics with five buttons, two pockets (with button closures) and upright collars; in contrast, motormen wore double-breasted, 'lancer-style' tunics with two rows of five buttons and upright collars. The collars on both styles of tunic carried individual metal letters - 'N C T' — on the bearer's right-hand side, and very probably an employee number on the left, again both presumably in brass. Caps also appear to have been changed at the same time, though still military in style, they now had a tensioned crown (top); the continued to carry the same badges as the previous caps.

Tramcar staff were also issued with double-breasted greatcoats with two rows of five buttons; these had high, fold-over collars that bore an employee number on the left-hand side and individual brass 'N C T' initials on the right-hand side.

The staff photo below — if it is indeed of Nelson Corporation Tramways - indicates that inspectors wore traditional single-breasted tramway inspector jackets with hidden buttons (or more probably an hook and eye affair), all edged in a finer material than the main body, and with upright collars; the latter probably bore Inspector in embroidered script lettering, though this cannot be made out with certainty on the surviving. Caps were the same style as worn by tramcar crews, but probably bore the designation Inspector, once again in embroidered script lettering.

In common with many tramway systems, it is highly likely that Nelson employed female staff during the Great War to replace male staff lost to the armed services; however, photographs are yet come to light, so it is impossible to say what uniforms were worn.

For a history of Nelson's tramways, see: 'The Tramways of North Lancashire' by W H Bett and J C Gillham; Light Rail Transit Association (1985).


Motormen and conductors
Nelson Corporation Tramways crew
Conductor and motorman pose on the platform of a rather battered looking Tramcar No 2 at the tram terminus at Reedyford, Nelson, with a service for Colne — photo undated, but probably taken in the early Edwardian era. Both men are wearing single-breasted jackets with lapels and what would appear to be bow ties. With thanks to Jim Halsall.

Nelson Corporation Tramways Tram No 3
An early photo of Tramcar No 3 bound for Barrowford — photo undated, but probably taken in 1900. The motorman is wearing a soft-topped cap and what appears to be a greatcoat. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society.

Nelson Corporation Tramways tram No 9
Conductor and motorman with single-deck bogie combination car No 9 — photo undated, but probably taken in the late Edwardian era. With thanks to Jim Halsall.

Nelson Corporation Tramways cap badges
Standard script-lettering cap badges of the pattern used by Nelson Corporation Tramways — brass. Author's Collection.

Nelson Corporation Tramways motorman and conductor
A conductor and motorman pose for the cameraman on the platform of Tramcar No 3, with the service for Higherford - photo undated, but probably taken shortly before the Great War. The individual 'N C T' collar initials are clearly in evidence. With thanks to Jim Halsall.

Nelson Corporation Tramways staff photo
A very poor quality image, but one which probably depicts the staff of Nelson Corporation Tramways assembled at the depot — photo undated, but almost certainly taken before the Great War. With thanks to Jim Halsall.