Newcastle Horse Tramways
(Newcastle Tramway Company, subsequently the Newcastle and Gosforth Tramway and Carriage Company)

Summary
Unfortunately, photographs of Newcastle Horse Tramways staff are rare, and what has survived is very difficult to date with anything approaching accuracy. There are in fact no photographs which can be securely dated to the days of Turton and Busby (1878 to 1885) or the Newcastle Tramway Company (1885-1888), so it is impossible to say what horsecar crews wore during the first ten or so years of the system's life. Several examples of heavily worn buttons from the Newcastle Tramway Company have however survived (see link), which does suggest that uniforms were issued at some point during these early years.

The photographic record is better for the late 1880s onwards, i.e. under the auspices of the Newcastle and Gosforth Tramway and Carriage Company (1888 to 1901), but is still tricky to date accurately, and close-ups of staff are almost unknown. The earliest photos - probably taken in the late 1880s or early 1890s - clearly show that informal attire was worn, namely: shirt, jacket and tie, along with the fashionable headgear of the day, invariably the bowler hat. At some point, uniforms were definitely introduced, though exactly when is completely unclear. Drivers and conductors were certainly wearing them by the turn of the century, though precisely what form they took, or whether they bore insignia, is impossible to say. Both grades did however wear tall kepi-style caps with glossy peaks, often referred to as 'pill boxes'; they seem not to have carried a cap badge, at least not a metal one that would show up (by reflection) on photographs.

Photographs of inspectors have not survived, so it is currently impossible to say what uniforms were worn, or indeed, if the owning companies ever employed them.

For a history of Newcastle's horse trams, see: 'Newcastle-upon-Tyne Horse Trams' by J Yarham, in the Tramway Review No 198 (p208-226); Light Railway Transport League (2004).

Images

Horse tram drivers and conductors
Newcastle Tramways Gosforth horse tram
Three horsecars captured at the Gosforth terminus on what is undoubtedly race day - photo undated, but from the fashions on display, probably taken in the early 1890s. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society., with thanks to David Voice.


Newcastle and Gosforth horse tram
A blow-up of the above photo showing the driver of the first horsecar; he is wearing informal attire along with a bowler hat.


Newcastle and Gosforth Tramways horse tram conductor
Another blow-up of the above photo, this time showing the conductor of the second horsecar (in the centre with a cashbag strap); he is also wearing informal attire, but with a flat cap.


Newcastle Horse Tramways horse tram
A Newcastle horse car captured on what is believed to be the Gosforth line over Town Moor - the photo is unfortunately undated, but the conductor's tall bowler suggests that it was taken in the early 1890s. The conductor is wearing informal attire, though the situation with the driver is less clear, and it is possible that he is wearing a kepi-style cap. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.


Newcastle and Gosforth Tramway horse tram 43
Newcastle & Gosforth Tramways and Carriage Company Horse Car No 43 outside the council offices in Gosforth High St with a service for Grey's Monument - photo undated, but probably taken around 1900. Image kindly supplied by Malcolm Fraser.


Newcastle and Gosforth Tramways horse tram conductor
A blow-up of the above photo showing the figure on the left, who would appear to be a tramway company employee. He is wearing a double-breasted uniform jacket with lapels, along with a kepi-style cap; the latter does not appear to bear a cap badge, at least a metal one that would reflect the light.


Newcastle and Gosforth horse tram driver
Another blow-up of the above photo, this time showing the driver. He is wearing a double-breasted greatcoat along with a kepi-style cap; once again the latter does not appear to bear a badge, though this is difficult to say with certainty.


Newcastle and Gosforth Tramways tram
An unidentified horsecar bound for Scotswood - photo undated, but probably taken around the turn of the century. Although difficult to make out, the driver would appear to be wearing a uniform jacket and a kepi-style cap. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society., with thanks to David Voice.