Northampton Corporation Tramways

Summary
The corporation took over the assets of the erstwhile Northampton Street Tramways Company in 1901, and continued to run horse-drawn services for almost three years before electrification finally rendered them obsolete. Fortunately, two photographs have survived from this period, both of which show that the corporation continued to allow the men to wear informal attire, though it did see fit to issue them with kepi-style caps; the latter bore a metallic cap badge, possibly comprising the system initials - 'NCT' - in block letters.

Crews working the new electric services were issued with double-breasted jackets with three waist-level pockets (with flap closures), two rows of four buttons and lapels; the latter carried an employee number on the bearer's left-hand side - in individual numerals - and system initials - 'N.C.T.' - on the right-hand side. It is unclear whether the insignia were brass or nickel, as buttons have survived in both materials, which suggests that a change was made from one to the other, most likely brass to nickel. Caps were in a military style with a tensioned crown (top), and carried a script-lettering grade badge - either 'Conductor' or 'Motorman' - above which was worn a small municipal arms badge. Unusually, the general style of these uniforms remained virutally unchanged for the entire life of the system, the only discernable alteration being the addition of two buttons which fastened through each of the lapels.

Tramcar crews were also issued with double-breasted greatcoats with two rows of five buttons, epaulettes (with button fastening) and high, fold-over collars; the latter appear to have carried the same insignia as the jackets, though in later years they may have carried the system initials on both sides.

Inspectors were issued with single-breasted jackets with hidden buttons (or an hook and eye affair), which were lined in material of a finer quality (and possibly a different colour) than the main jacket, and were embeliished with braiding; they also bore epaulettes and upright collars, the latter bearing embroidered script-lettering system initials - 'NCT' - on both sides. Caps were probably initially in a kepi-style, though these were quickly superseded by a military style with tensioned crown (top); these carred the bearer's grade - 'Inspector' - on a hat band in embroidered script lettering, above which was worn a circular cloth cap badge bearing the system initials, again in embroidered script lettering. At some point, the jackets were changed to a double-breasted design with two rows of four buttons (dark coloured) and lapels; the upper part of the latter (the collars) certainly bore embroidered 'N C T' system initials on the right-hand side, and probably on the left-hand side as well. The cap insiginia probably remained the same, though this cannot be made out with certainty on the surviving photographs.

In common with the vast majority of tramway systems, Northampton employed female staff during the Great War - certainly as conductresses - to replace male employees lost to the armed services. These ladies were issued with stylish, tailored, 'lancer-style' jackets with two rows of five buttons (narrowing from top to bottom) and upright collars; the latter carried an employee number on the bearer's left-hand side and system initials - 'N C T' - on the right-hand side (in individuals letters/numerals, almost certainly brass). A long matching skirt was also worn. In the sole surviving photograph, the subject is wearing a waterproof bonnet with a hat band, which does not appear to be carrying a badge. Given that this is a single photograph, it may well be that it is not fully representative, so other headgear (and badges) may have been worn.

For a history of the system, see: 'Northampton Corporation Tramways' by D R Howard; Tramway Review 128, 129 and 130 (1986).

Images

Horse tram drivers and conductors
Northampton Corporation Tramways Horse Tram No 20 and crew
The crew of Horsecar No 20 pose for the cameraman in Weedon Rd at its junction with Glasgow Street - photo undated, but certainly taken after the corporation take-over of 1901. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.


Northampton Corporation Tramways horse tram crew
A blow-up of the above photo showing the crew, both of whom are wearing informal attire, but with corporation-issued kepi-style caps. The latter bear a metallic cap badge, which though difficult to make out, are probably the system initials - ' NCT' - in block letters. The cars were painted in route colours, this one being green (with thanks to Alan Brotchie).


Northampton Corporation Tramways Horse Tram No 23 in 1904
Horsecar No 23 outside the Kingsley Park Hotel on the Kingsthorpe route in 1904. The tram would have been painted blue. With thanks to Alan Brotchie for the background information.


Northampton Horse Tram driver W Hoskins and Driver E Patrick
A blow up of the above photo showing the crew (Driver W Hoskins and Conductor E Patrick), both of whom are wearing informal attire, with the exception of Conductor Patrick's kepi-style cap.


Motormen and conductors
Northampton Corporation Tramways staff photo
A rather washed-out image, but one which shows a large number of staff assembled to mark a now long-forgotten occasion - photo undated, but undoubtedly very early in the system's life. Photo courtesy of the Graham Croucher collection.


Northampton Corporation Tramways tram driver motorman
A blow-up of the photo above showing a motorman, which although grainy, clearly shows that the collars bore system initials - 'NCT' - on the bearer's right-hand side, and an employee number on the left. The small badge worn above the script-lettering grade badge is almost certainly the same pattern as the municipal cap badge illustrated below.


Northampton Corporation Tramways municpal cap badge
Northampton Corporation Tramways municipal cap badge - nickel.


Northampton Corporation Tramways cap badges
Standard script-lettering grade badges of the pattern used by Northampton Corporation Tramways - nickel. It is unclear what material Northampton used, as buttons exist in both brass and nickel.


Northampton Corporation Tramways conductor and driver
The crew of an unidentified tramcar on a service for Castle Station & St James pose for the cameraman in corporation-issue greatcoats with epaulettes - photo undated, but probably early Edwardian. Photo courtesy of the Graham Croucher collection.


Northampton Corporation Tramways staff photo
A staff photo taken at the St James Rd depot - undated, but probably late Edwardian. Photo courtesy of the Graham Croucher collection.


Northampton Corporation Tramways tram crews
A blow-up of the above photo showing three motormen (rear) and four conductors (front). By this time, jackets bore two additional buttons, which were used to fasten the lapels; these were absent on the earliest uniforms.


Northampton Corporation Tramways tram No 16 and crew
Conductor and Motorman with Tramcar No 16 - photo undated, but probably late Edwardian. Photo courtesy of the Graham Croucher collection.


Northampton Corporation Tramways Tram Driver Adams
A photograph of Motorman John Adams, who was apparently the oldest driver in the service of the NCT when the image was taken; unfortunately, the photo is undated, though it is probably late Edwardian. Photo courtesy of the Graham Croucher collection.


Northampton Corporation Tramways Tram No 22
Conductor and motorman with Tramcar No 22 - photo undated, but probably taken prior to the Great War.


Northampton Corporation Tramways tramcar crew
A tramcar crew pose for the cameraman with their unidentified charge - photo undated, though it has a pre-Great War air about it. Photo courtesy of the Graham Croucher collection.


Northampton Corporation Tramways tramcar crew
A blow-up of the above photo showing the collar and cap badges.


Northampton Corporation Tramways Tram No 33 and Conductor John Leeson
Tramcar No 33 with Conductor John Leason and an unidentified motorman - photo undated, but possibly taken in the early 1920s. Photo courtesy of the Graham Croucher collection.


Northampton Corporation Tramways Tram No 6 and crew
Inspector (standing) with the crew of Tramcar No 6 - photo undated, but very probably taken in the late 1920s or early 1930s. Photo courtesy of the Graham Croucher collection.


Northampton Corporation Tramways Tram No 6 at Kingsthorpe
Another shot of Tramcar No 6, this time at Kingsthorpe - photo again undated, but probably taken shortly before the system closed. Photo courtesy of the Graham Croucher collection.


Northampton Corporation Tramways Tram No 34 and crew
Tramcar No 34 on what looks to have been a foggy day, with a service bound for St James - photo undated, but probably taken in the 1930s. Photo by H Nicol, courtesy of the National Tramway Museum.


Northampton Corporation Tramways tram crew
A blow-up of the above photo showing the motorman and conductor, both in double-breasted overcoats with epaulettes.


Senior staff
Northampton Corporation Tramways inspectors
A blow-up of the early staff photo above showing two figures in kepi-style caps and single-breasted jackets (on the tramcar platform at the back); these individuals are almost certainly inspectors.


Northampton Corporation Tramways inspector Charles Edward Bennet
An excellent studio portrait of Inspector Charles Edward Bennet - photo undated, but probably mid Edwardian. Photo courtesy of the Graham Croucher collection.


Northampton Corporation Tramways inspector Charles Edward Bennet
Blow-up of the above photo showing the embroidered collar ('N.C.T.') and cap insignia ('Inspector'), the latter surmounted by a circular cap badge, almost certainly of embroidered cloth.


Northampton Corporation Tramways inspector Charles Edward Bennet
A blow-up of the late Edwardian depot photo above, showing an individual who is, in all probability, Inspector Bennet.


Northampton Corporation Tramways inspector Charles Edward Bennett
A much later shot of Inspector Bennet, probably taken in the 1920s or even the 1930s. His overcoat bears embroidered insignia on each collar, almost certainly his grade, 'Inspector'. Photo courtesy of the Graham Croucher collection.


Northampton Corporation Tramways inspector
A blow-up of the late 1920s/early 1930s photo of Tramcar No 6 above, showing the inspector. By this time the uniform jacket had changed to a double-breasted design with dark buttons and lapels; the system initials - 'N C T' can just be made out on the right-hand collar.


Female staff
Northampton Corporation Tramways Great War conductress Cunnigham
Northampton Corporation Tramways conductress, possibly a Ms Cunningham - photo undated, but almost certainly taken during the Great War. Photo courtesy of the Graham Croucher collection.


Northampton Corporation Tramways Great War conductress Cunnigham
A blow-up of the above photo showing details of the collar insignia, 'N C T' on the bearer's right-hand side and an employee number (14) on the left. Her waterproof bonnet does not appears not be carrying a badge.