North Staffordshire Tramways

Although the North Staffordshire Tramways Company operated horse tram services for almost five years, photographs of these services — or the staff working them — appear not to have survived; however, in view of the NSTCo's policy opposite its steam-tramway staff, it seems highly likely that horse tram staff simply wore informal attire.

Fortunately, a small number of good quality photographs have survived of the steam era, which lasted some 28 years almost to the day (1881 to 1889). Steam tram drivers wore typical railway footplate-like attire, namely: cotton trousers and jackets (light in colour), along with soft-topped caps. The earliest photo available (see below) shows a driver wearing a prominent oval cap badge, possibly cloth and affixed to what appears to be an elasticated hat band, presumably so that it could be simply and easily attached to whatever headgear was worn. Other photographs show a variety of headgear (bowler hats and flat caps), though the oval cap badge is conspicuous by its absence.

The NSTCo also made significant use of stokers; these men wore the same overall style of cotton workwear as the drivers.

Conductors wore smart but informal attire: jacket, trousers, shirt and tie, along with the fashionable headgear of the day, namely the bowler hat, though towards the end of the system's life, the flat cap was much in evidence. Although none of the available photographs show conductors wearing the cap badge seen in the first photo below, a shot taken in 1899, which includes four conductors, appears to show all of them with an oval badge, very similar in size to the cap badge, but in each case attached to their money satchels. It is unclear whether this badge, or the earlier badge (if it were indeed different) was a true cap badge or some sort of licence.

A single photograph has survived which appears to show an inspector (see below). This individual is smartly dressed, in mid-length tailored coat, with trousers, smart shoes, shirt and tie. He is wearing a bowler hat with the same oval badge as the driver (in the same shot), like-wise on some sort of hat band.

For a detailed history of the system, see 'Tramways in the Potteries and North Staffordshire, Part 1' by Harry Dibdin in The Tramway Review, Issue 26; Light Railway Transport League (1959) and 'A History of the British Steam Tram Volume 4' by David Gladwin; Adam Gordon (2008). My thanks to John Perkin for providing me with a copy of the first 'difficult to find' article.


Steam tram drivers and conductors
North Staffordshire Tramways Steam Tram No 7 1882
An excellent study of Steam Tram Number 7 (a Manning Wardle product delivered on 14th April 1882) — photo undated, but as this heavy engine and its sisters only lasted about two years, definitely taken some time between 1882 and 1884.

North Stafforshire Tramways steam Tram driver
A blow-up of the above photo showing the driver, who is wearing typical railway-footplate attire (cotton jacket and trousers) along with a soft-topped cap to which a badge (with hat band) has been affixed. This appears to have three letters at the top, which could well be 'N S T', though this is mere speculation.

North Staffordshire Tramways Steam tram stoker
Another blow-up of the above photo, this time showing the stoker, the requirement for which made these engines particularly expensive to run compared to others. He is wearing very similar apparel to his driver, though without the cap badge/licence.

North Staffordshire Tramways conductor
Yet a further blow-up of the above photo, this time showing the conductor. Although smart, he is clearly not wearing a uniform, nor does he appear to be wearing a cap badge/licence.

North Staffordshire Tramways Steam Tram No 10
Another relatively early shot, this time of the crew of Steam Tram No 10 (a Beyer Peacock product, and the second engine to hold that fleet number following the demise of the Manning Wardles) outside Bowstead St depot in Stoke - photo undated, but judging by the excellent condition of the engine, probably taken not that long after delivery (2nd July 1884).

North STaffordshire Tramways Steam Tram No 10 and crew
A blow-up of the above photo showing the tram engine crew — stoker and driver — the former in cloth cap and the latter in bowler and seemingly pristine cotton overalls. Neither man is wearing the cap badge/licence seen in the first photo.

North Staffordshire Tramways conductor
Another blow-up of the above photo, this time showing the conductor. He is wearing a thick coat similar to a modern-day donkey jacket and bowler hat; once again, there is no sign of the cap badge/licence seen in the earlier photo.

North Staffordshire Tramways steam tram engine
An unidentified Wilkinson Steam Tram in City Rd, Stoke-on-Trent — photo undated, but very probably taken in the mid-to-late 1890s judging by the flat caps and the dilapidated state of the engine. The youthful conductor (left) is in informal attire. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice

North Staffordshire Tramways depot staff circa 1898
A very late photograph showing an array of staff (fitters, drivers, stokers, conductors and an inspector) in Hanley Park during the reconstruction of Stoke depot (for electrification) — probably taken in spring 1899.

North STaffordshire Tramways conductors and drivers
A blow-up of the above photo showing two of the conductors, one in bowler and one in a flat cap, and with what appear to be the cap badges/licences seen in the earlier photo, but attached to their money satchels rather than their hats. In fact, closer examination of the photo reveals that all the conductors depicted (4 in all) have these badges affixed to their satchels.

Senior staff
North Staffordshire Tramways Inspector
Another blow-up of the 1882-84 photograph above, this time showing an individual who would appear to be an inspector. He clearly has a cap badge/licence similar to that worn by the driver in the same shot, fixed to his bowler hat by means of a hat band.