Newcastle Corporation Tramways

Summary
On commencement of corporation-operated electric services (in December 1901), motormen and conductors were issued with double-breasted, 'lancer-style' tunics with two rows of five buttons (narrowing from top to bottom, and bearing the full corporation title and device — see link), two waist-level pockets, and upright collars; the latter bore an employee number on the bearer's left-hand side (in individual metal numerals), and system initials — 'N C T' — on the right-hand side (in individual metal letters). The tunic had a pronounced seam down the centre, an uncommon design, though not unique to Newcastle. Caps were initially in the kepi-style and carried a script-lettering grade badge — either Motorman or Conductor - above which a small municipal device badge was worn. The kepi-style caps were relatively quickly superseded — possibly by 1902/3 — by military-style caps with tensioned crowns (tops); these continued to bear the municipal arms badge, but instead of the previous script-lettering grade badge, an employee number was carried; motormen had even numbers and conductors odd. All insignia were presumably brass to start with (brass buttons are known to exist), a material which was at some point superseded by nickel, possibly at the same time the kepi-style caps were dispensed with.

Staff were also issued with long, double-breasted greatcoats with two rows of five buttons, and high fold-over collars; an employee number was worn on the left-hand collar and individual 'N C T' initials on the right-hand side.

Photos taken around the time of the Second World War indicate that the 'lancer-style' tunics had by that time been replaced by more modern single-breasted jackets with lapels, though these are seldom seen on surviving images, as most crews appears to have been captured in their overcoats/greatcoats. In the last years of operation, the caps were changed to a more modern soft-topped style with a glossy peak; they continued to carry the same insignia as previously.

Few photos of inspectors have survived from the first two decades of operation, however, what has indicates that inspectors were issued with single-breasted jackets with hidden buttons (or more likely a hook and eye affair) with two slit breast pockets and upright collars; both the jacket and the pockets were edged in a finer material than the main body. The upright collars probably bore system initials, though these cannot be made out with certainty on the surviving photos. Headgear took the form of a kepi-style cap bearing the standard municipal arms badge above a script-lettering grade badge, probably nickel.

At some point, inspectors uniforms were changed to a single-breasted design with four buttons, two hip-level pockets (with flaps), two breast pockets (with scalloped flaps and button closures) and lapels; the upper part of the latter (the collars) bore system initials — NCT — in embroidered script lettering. The caps were also changed to a military style with a tensioned crown; these bore the same badges as previously, but with the grade badge carried on a braided hat band, bordered (above and below) with light-coloured piping. This style of jacket was also changed slightly in the last decade of operation through the addition of epaulettes.

In common with many other UK tramway systems, women were employed in significant numbers during the Great War to replace male staff lost to the armed services. Female staff were issued with long skirts and tailored, single-breasted jackets with five buttons, a waist belt (with two buttons), hip and breast pockets (with button closures), and high fold-over collars. An employee number was worn on the bearer's left-hand collar, with the right side left plain, i.e., without system initials. Two types of uniform are known, which although identical in style, were made from different materials, one probably serge and the other in a lighter cotton-like material; these two styles probably reflect winter and summer issues, respectively. Caps also appeared in two distinct styles, the heavier one being a soft-topped cap with a glossy peak, and the other a military-style cap with a tensioned crown (top); both carried the usual municipal arms badge and an employee number, though photos exist where the latter is absent.

Female staff were also employed during the Second World War, though photographic evidence has so far been difficult to find.

For a history of the system, see: 'Newcastle Corporation Tramways' by F M Maitland and G S Hearse, in the Tramway Review Nos 17 (p2-24) and 18 (p26-30); Light Railway Transport League (1955).

Images

Motormen and conductors
Newcastle Corporation Tramways No 24 and crew
Two tramcar staff pose with a Class H car (No 24) at Byker depot in 1901. Although uniform details are difficult to make out, both individuals are clearly wearing double-breasted 'lancer-style' tunics and kepi-style caps. With thanks to Malcolm Fraser.


Newcastle  Corporation Tramways Tramcar No 11
A 11-130 series tramcar at Gosforth Park, bound for Central Station — photo undated, but probably taken not long after the vehicle was delivered, so in late 1901 or 1902. Author's Collection.


Newcastle  Corporation Tramways Tramcar No 11 tram driver
A blow-up of the above photo showing the motorman, in double-breasted greatcoat and kepi-style cap; the latter bears a script-lettering grade badge — Motorman — above which is a small badge, almost certainly the municipal arms badge shown below.


Newcastle Corporation Tramways cap badges
Standard script-lettering cap badges of the type used by Newcastle Corporation Tramways in the early Edwardian era — brass. Author's Collection.


Newcastle  Corporation Tramways Tramcar No 34
Tramcar No 34 and crew pictured at Jesmond — photo undated, but probably taken in 1902/3 judging by the relatively good condition of the vehicle. Photo courtesy of the West Newcastle Picture History Collection.


Newcastle  Corporation Tramways Tramcar No 34 tram conductor and driver
A blow-up of the above photo showing the conductor and motorman. Both men are wearing 'lancer-style' tunics with upright collars, upon which are their employee numbers and system initials (N C T). The kepi-style caps bear a municipal ‘coat of arms’ badge along with a script-lettering grade badge.


Newcastle Corporation Tramways 182
Tramcar No 182 (Class G) with crew, posed for the photographer at the Bridge, with a service for Scotswood — photo undated, but probably taken in 1904 or 1905. Image kindly supplied by Beamish Museum Limited (see link), image copyright Beamish Museum Limited.


Newcastle Corporation Tramways 182 crew
A blow-up of the above photo showing the Conductor (Employee No 401) and motorman, the former in 'lancer-style' tunic and the latter in a double-breasted greatcoat. By this time, the caps had been changed to a military style with a tensioned crown (top), bearing the usual municipal arms badge, but now with an employee number rather than a script-lettering grade badge.


Newcastle Corporation Tramways badge
Newcastle ‘coat of arms’ cap badge worn throughout the systems life (1901 to 1950 — nickel. The badges were probably brass until around 1904 and nickel thereafter. Author's Collection.


Newcastle Corporation Tramways tram conductor
A studio portrait of an unidentified Newcastle Corporation Tramways conductor — photo undated, but probably mid-to-late Edwardian. Author's Collection.


Newcastle Corporation Tramways tram conductor
A blow-up of the above photo revealing details of the jacket insignia ('N C T' on the bearer's right-hand collar and an employee number on the left-hand collar) and cap badges (municipal arms badge above an employee number). The employee number is odd (No 353), revealing the subject to have been a conductor.


Newcastle Corporation Tramways motorman
Newcastle motorman — photo undated, but probably taken in the late Edwardian era. Image kindly supplied by Beamish Museum Limited (see link), image copyright Beamish Museum Limited.


Newcastle Corporation Tramways 191 Scotswood Road
Class G tramcar No 191 and crew captured for posterity under the railway bridge on Scotswood Rd — photo undated, but probably late Edwardian. Author's Collection.


Newcastle Corporation Tramways 191 crew
A blow-up of the above photo showing the motorman (Employee No 340) and his conductor.


Newcastle Corporation Tramways crews
A group of motormen and conductors pose on a tramcar platform — photo undated, but almost certainly taken during or shortly after the Great War, given that two of the individuals are wearing medal ribbons, whilst the gentleman at the centre, back, has a regimental badge on the side of his cap. The employee numerals — on both cap and left-hand collar — are clearly seen, as is the municipal cap badge and the pronounced seam down the centre of the tunics. With thanks to Malcolm Fraser.


Newcastle Corporation Tramways staff
A group of motormen and conductors pose for the photographer at Byker Depot in the early 1920s. With thanks to Malcolm Fraser.


Newscastle Corporation Tramways Tram No 93 and crew
Two conductors and a motorman pose in an unidentified depot with what is probably Tramcar No 93 (Class F); this was damaged in an accident and is thought to have been vestibuled in the late 1930s. With thanks to Malcolm Fraser for this information. Author's Collection.


Newscastle Corporation tramways motorman and conductors
A blow-up of the above photo revealing the two conductors to be Employees Nos 303 and 291.


Senior staff
Newcastle Corporation Tramways Inspector Brown 1937
Inspector Brown of Newcastle Corporation Tramways pictured in 1937. His jacket collars bear embroidered system initials — NCT — whilst his cap carries the standard municipal arms badge, along with his grade (on a braided hat band). Photo courtesy of the West Newcastle Picture History Collection.


Newcastle Corporation Tramways Inspector Brown 1946
Another shot of Inspector Brown, this time taken in 1946; by this time, the jackets issued to inspectors had clearly acquired epaulettes. The script-lettering grade badge — 'Inspector' — appears to be metal rather than embroidered, and was probably nickel. West Newcastle Picture History Collection.


Newcastle Corporation Tramways Inspector cap badge
Inspector script-lettering cap badge, of the type used by Newcastle Corporation Tramways — nickel. Author's Collection.


Newcastle Cororation employee
A Newcastle Corporation employee. There is no evidence whatsoever to suggest that the subject worked in the Tramways Dept, though it remains a possibility. Author's Collection.



Female staff
Newcastle Corporation Tramways conductresses Great War
A group of conductresses and their male colleagues pose for the camera at Wingrove Depot, Fenham in 1915. Many of the ladies are wearing their tunics unbuttoned at the top, giving a false impression of lapels. The lady on the back row, far right, is Josephina Robinson (see studio portrait below). With thanks to Malcolm Fraser.


Newcastle Corporation Tramways Great War tram conductress Josephina Robinson
Great War NCT tram conductress Josephina Robinson (née Jackson), who was born on the 24th August 1888 in Cockermouth, which means that she would have been in her late twenties when the photo was taken. Her husband — George Robinson — fought in the Great War, so relatives presumably looked after the couple's three children whilst Josephina was conducting. She lived in Adair Avenue, not far from Wingrove Depot, and died there on the 13th August 1973, just short of her 85th birthday. Photo and information courtesy of Josephina's great granddaughter, Lisa Robinson.


Newcastle Tramways Conductress Hilda Rogan
Newcastle Corporation Tramways Great War conductress Hilda Rogan. Miss Rogan was Employee No 311, the number appearing on her left tunic collar and on her cap. Photo courtesy of the Stephen Howarth Collection.


Newcastle Corporation Tramways Great War tram conductress
An NCT Great War tram conductress (Employee No 207) poses for an unusual outside shot. Although the jacket and skirt are the same style as seen in other photographs, the material appears to be much lighter than in other shots (possibly cotton, rather than serge), suggesting that it may have been summer wear. The subject's cap is military in style rather than soft-topped and only carries a municipal badge. The photograph was taken by J W Middleton of Newcastle, a company which presumably took these photos with the aim of selling at least one or two of them to the subject. On the back, of the postcard, the subject — Josie — states: "There are not many men conductors left". Author's Collection.


Mary Wheatley Sutherland, Great War Newcastle Tram conductress
Conductress Mary Wheatley Sutherland (Employee No 613) and her motorman (Employee No 524), aboard the platform of Tramcar No 138 — photo undated, but undoubtedly taken during or shortly after the Great War. Mary Sutherland was born in 1901, so was probably only 18 years old when the photo was taken. Photograph courtesy of her grand-daughter, Judith Sutherland.


Newcastle Corporation Tramways Tram No 299 Scotswood
An unidentified NCT conductress and her motorman pose in front of Tramcar No 299 (Class B) at the Scotswood Bridge turning circle — photo dated 1949. Image kindly supplied by Beamish Museum Limited (see link), image copyright Beamish Museum Limited.


Newcastle Corporation Tramways conductress and motorman
A blow-up of the above photo showing the conductress and motorman. The motorman appears to be wearing an open-necked modern jacket under his great coat, and in contrast to the earlier tensioned crown caps, this one is soft topped.