Photographs of Rhondda Tramways staff are very thin on the ground indeed, so it is only possible to paint a superficial picture of the tramway's uniform story. A single early photograph suggests that conductors were initially issued with double-breasted jackets with two rows of four buttons and lapels; it is unclear if the latter carried any insignia. It is also unclear whether motormen wore the same jackets, as photographs taken prior to the Great War show them in double-breasted overcoats with high, fold-over collars. Caps were in a military style with a glossy peak and tensioned crown (top), and appear to have carried standard, 'off the shelf', script-lettering grade badges - either 'Motorman' or 'Conductor' - though whether these were brass or nickel is currently unknown. To date, no marked buttons have come to light - as is the case for all the tramway systems owned by the National Electric Construction Company, the Rhondda's parent company - so in all likelihood they were plain.
By the late 1920s or early 1930s, conductors were certainly issued with single-breasted jackets with four pockets, epaulettes (with button closures) and upright collars; the latter carried an employee number on the bearer's left-hand side and individual 'R T C' initials on the right-hand side. Motormen on the other hand were issued with double-breasted, 'lancer' style tunics (with buttons narrowing from top to bottom), epaulletes and upright collars; the latter carried the same insignia as conductors' jackets.
It is entirely possible that the Rhondda Tramways Company employed female staff during the Great War to replace males staff lost to the armed forces; however, photographs appear not to have survived, so it is currently impossible to state whether they were employed, or indeed, what they wore.
Photographs of inspectors are likewise yet to come to light so it remains unclear what uniforms were issued to them.
Motormen and conductors
The crew of Tramcar No 23 pose for the cameraman outside the depot at Troedyrhiw Rd, Porth - photo undated, but given the relatively good condition of the tram, probably taken in the late Edwardian era or in the years running up to the Great War. Author's collection.
A depot photograph of the motorman and conductor of Tramcar No 11 - photo undated, but probably taken in the 1920s or 1930s. Photo courtesy of Trevor Thomas.
A blow-up of the above photo showing the conductor - his right-hand collar bears the company's initials: 'R T C'. The round badge is probably not official, as it is absent from all other known photographs.
Standard ‘off the shelf’ script-lettering cap badges of the type used by the Rhondda Tramways Company - brass, though it is not known what material the RTC actually used.
Another depot shot, this time of a host of extremely youthful-looking conductors - photo again undated, but probably late 1920s or 1930s. Photo courtesy of Trevor Thomas.