Plymouth, Stonehouse and Devonport Tramways

Summary
The Plymouth Stonehouse and Devonport Tramways Company system was the first 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; headgear was also down to personal choice, ranging from tall 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 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, so what follows can only be regarded as tentative, especially with respect to whether the style of uniform changed over this period. What few photos there are suggest that both conductors and motormen wore double-breasted 'lancer-style' tunics with two rows of five buttons and upright collars; somewhat unusually, the latter appear not to have carried any badges. Caps were military in style with a tensioned crown (top) and probably carrried a large, nickel, fretwork-style badge which consisted of 'PS&D' (in curved letters), above 'TY.Co.' (see below).

Photographs of inspectors have yet to come to light, so it is currently impossible to say what uniforms they wore. 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 or 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 greatcoat 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 probably Edwardian judging by the fashions, both sartorial and facial. Both men 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 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, which is almost certainly that depicted below. Both men's tunic collars appear to be devoid of badges.


Plymouth, Stonehouse and Devonport Tramways Company cap badge
Plymouth, Stonehouse and Devonport Tramways Company cap badge from the electric era - Nickel.