Rossendale Valley Tramways Company

In common with the vast majority of UK steam tramways, RVTCo drivers wore railway footplate-like attire, comprising heavy-duty cotton jackets and trousers, along with grease-top or cloth caps; no badges of any kind were worn. Up until the mid-to-late 1890s, conductors wore smart but informal attire: jacket and trousers, shirt and tie, along with an overcoat. Headgear followed the fashion of the day, initially the bowler hat, but later on the flat cap. No insignia, including licences, appears to have been worn.

In the mid-to-late 1890s, or possibly following the take-over by the British Electric Traction Company in 1898, conductors were issued with double-breasted jackets (edged in a lighter material), with two rows of four buttons, three waist-level pockets and lapels, together with matching trousers and a soft-topped cap. Neither jackets nor caps appear to have borne any badges. In the mid Edwardian era, the caps were changed to a more modern military style with a tensioned crown (top), though still without badges. The absence of insignia was very unusual for a BETCo subsidiary, but may have been a deliberate policy by the company, whose symbol (the 'Magnet & Wheel') very much reflected their electrification agenda, which in the case of the RVTCo, ultimately foundered on the rocks of municipal obduracy.

Photos indicate that inspectors wore long single-breasted coats — like those of conductors, edged in a lighter material — with four buttons and lapels; once again, the latter did not carry any badges. Caps were in a kepi-style with a glossy peak, and appear to have carried an oblong metal badge of unknown pattern.

For a brief history of the RVTCo, see: 'A History of the British Steam Tram Volume 4' by David Gladwin; Adam Gordon (2008).


Steam tram drivers and conductors
Rossendale Valley Tramways Steam Tram No 3 and crew 1890
Driver and conductor (possibly the man on the right) pose for the camera with what is evidently a brand new Thomas Green and Sons product, Steam Tram No 3 (plus trailer), dating the photo to December 1888 or early 1889. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society.

Rossendale Valley Tramways Steam Tram No 6 and crew 1890
Rossendale Valley Tramways Company No 6 outside the Queens Arms, Rawtenstall, circa 1890. Photo courtesy of Duncan Holden.

Rossendale Valley Tramways Steam Tram and crew
A group, including the driver (in the cab) and conductor (right), with an unidentified engine near Stacksteads — photo undated, but probably taken in the 1890s. The conductor appears to be wearing a soft-topped cap, probably self purchased. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society.

Rossendale Valley Steam Tram at Glen Top Brewery
The crew of an unidentified steam tram pose for the camera together with an inspector (in all likelihood) outside Glen Top Brewery, Stacksteads — photo undated, but probably taken in the mid-to-late 1890s. Neither the driver nor the conductor appear to be wearing a cap badge, the bright spot on the driver's cap merely being a reflection. The inspector on the other hand would appear to have some sort of metal badge on his cap. Author's Collection.

Rossendale Valley Tramways steam tram and crew
A rather poorly focused shot, but one which does show a conductor in double-breasted jacket edged in material of a lighter colour — photo undated, but probably early 20th Century. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society.

Rossendale Valley Tramways Steam Tram No 9 and crew 1890
Conductor (Bill Dust), driver (Dick Walmsley) and an inspector pose for the camera with Tram No 1 in Burnley Rd, Crawshawbooth in 1907. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society.

Senior staff
Rossendale Valley Tramways InspectorRossendale Valley Tramways Inspector
Two RVTCo inspectors taken from the photos above. Both are wearing long single-breasted coats with four buttons and lapels, along with kepi-style caps bearing an oblong badge, probably in metal. The apparent stripes on the sleeves of the man in the first photograph are possibly creases highlighted by the camera flash.