Plymouth, Stonehouse and Devonport Tramways

Summary
The Plymouth Stonehouse and Devonport Tramways Company system was the first horse tramway built under the Tramways Act of 1870, and the photographic record for its almost 30 years of horse-drawn operation (1872-1901) is relatively rich. In common with the vast majority of Victorian horse tram operators, the PS&DTCo did not issue uniforms, instead, staff were required to wear smart but informal attire, i.e. shirts and ties, jackets and overcoats or coachman's coats; headgear was also down to personal choice, ranging from top hats (in the early days), through the ubiquitous bowler, to the flat cap (in the late 1890s). No insignia - either badges or licences - was carried on either the jackets or hats.

The photographic record for the PS&DTCo's electric era - which lasted from 1901 up to 1922, when the enterprise was sold to Plymouth Corporation - is surprisingly sparse, though it is fortunately made up for by an excellent staff photo that was taken at the very end of company ownership. Conductors and motormen appear to have worn double-breasted 'lancer-style' tunics with two rows of five buttons and upright collars; somewhat unusually for a UK tramway uniform, the collars were left plain. At some point, single-breasted jackets were issued, though whether this was to both motormen and conductors or perhaps only conductors, is unclear. The jackets were single-breasted with a row of five buttons and upright collars; like the double-breasted jackets, the collars were left plain. Some jackets had epaulattes, though this appears to have been the exception; apart from a button fastening at the neck end, these were also unadorned. Caps were military in style with a tensioned crown (top) and carrried a large, nickel, fretwork-style badge which consisted of 'PS&D' (in curved letters), above 'TY.Co.' (see below for an example).

Inspectors wore typical tramway inspector garb, namely: single-breasted jackets with hidden buttons (or more likely an hook and eye affair), with a slit breast pocket; the pocket and jacket were edged in a finer material than the main body, and this was also used for chevron embellishments on the sleeve cuffs. The jackets bore upright collars which carried the bearer's grade Inspector - in embroidered script lettering. Caps were military in style with a tensioned crown, and carried the grade, embroidered on a hat band; this was usually in block lettering ('INSPECTOR'), though script-lettering (Inspector) was also used.

The PS&DTCo presumably employed female staff during the Great War to replace male staff lost to the armed services (a common policy adopted by most UK tramway systems); however, neither documentary nor photographic evidence is available to prove this either way.

For a history of Plymouth's tramway systems, see: 'The Trams of Plymouth - a 73 Years Story' by Martin Langley and Edwina Small; Ex Libris Press (1990).

Images

Horse tram drivers and conductors
Plymouth Stonehouse and Devonport Tramways horse tram No 6
A very early shot of Horsecar No 6 - photo undated, but possibly taken in the 1870s. Neither the driver nor the conductor (standing in front of the tram towards the rear) is wearing a uniform.


Plymouth Stonehouse and Devonport Tramways horse tram No 6
A blow-up of the above photo showing the driver in coachman's coat and top hat.


Plymouth Stonehouse and Devonport Tramways horse tram
An unidentified PS&DTCo horsecar at the Octagon - photo undated, but probably taken in the 1890s. The driver is wearing a heavy-duty overcoat and a bowler hat. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.


Plymouth Stonehouse and Devonport Tramways horse tram No 6
Another unidentified PS&DTCo horsecar - photo undated, but probably taken in the mid-to-late 1890s. The driver is wearing a bowler hat, and as with other photos, there is no sign of badges or licences. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.


Plymouth Stonehouse and Devonport Tramways horse tram
PS&DTCo horsecar at Halfpenny Bridge starting its ascent of Devonport Hill, which apparently took four horses and a trace horse - photo undated, but probably taken in the late 1890s. Both the trace horse man and the driver are wearing flat caps. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.


Motormen and conductors
Plymouth, Stonehouse and Devonport Tramways Tramcar No 9
Tramcar No 9 and crew - photo undated, but judging by the fashions, both sartorial and facial, probably Edwardian. Both of the crewmen are wearing 'lancer-style' tunics with white raincovers on their caps, the latter indicating that it was summer. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.


Plymouth, Stonehouse and Devonport Tramways Tram No 11
The crew of PS&DTCo Tramcar No 11 pose for the cameraman in Fore Street, Devonport - photo undated, but probably taken around the time of the Great War. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.


Plymouth, Stonehouse and Devonport Tramways crew
A blow-up of the above photo showing the conductor and motorman. Although of poor quality, it does show the general shape of the cap badge, and that both men's tunic collars are devoid of badges.


Plymouth, Stonehouse and Devonport Tramways Market St depot staff photo
A superb photo of what is probably the entire staff of Market St depot, which though undated, is strongly redolent of the early 1920s, especially the large flat caps. It is tempting to speculate that it was taken to mark the end of the company's tenure, around the time the system was taken over by Plymouth Corporation (1st July 1922). Author's Collection.


Plymouth, Stonehouse and Devonport Tramways tram driver
A blow-up of the above photo showing an individual who is more than likely a motorman. He is wearing a 'lancer-style' tunic with upright collars, the latter without insignia of any kind. His cap bears a fretwork-style cap badge comprising the company initials: 'PS&D TY.Co.'.


Plymouth, Stonehouse and Devonport Tramways Company cap badge
Plymouth, Stonehouse and Devonport Tramways Company cap badge from the electric era (1901-1922) - Nickel. Author's Collection.


PS&DT Staff_AWB CONDS
Another blow-up of the 1920s staff photo showing a group of motormen and conductors in single-breasted and double-breasted ('lancer-style' ) jackets; neither style of jacket carries a badge or insignia of any kind.


Plymouth Stonehouse and Devonport Tramways tramwayman
An individual, possibly a conductor, wearing a single-breasted jacket with epaulettes (again unmarked). Most of the individuals in the main photo have tunics without epaulettes. The photo is sharp enough to make out the plain scalloped-rim uniform buttons.


Senior staff
Plymouth Stonehouse and Devonport Tramways inspectors
A blow-up of the 1920s staff photo above showing two of the four inspectors. The man on the left is wearing an overcoat with 'Inspector' embroidered on the collars. Although both men have their grade embroidered on a hat band, in one case this would appear to be script lettering, whilst in the other case, it is clearly rendered in block letters (as with the remaining two inspectors - not shown).


Plymouth Stonehouse and Devonport Tramways Inspector
A blow-up of the above photo showing details of the inspector's uniform.