South Shields Corporation Tramways

Summary
Early photos show that crews were issued with double-breasted, 'lancer-style' tunics with two rows of five buttons (narrowing from top to bottom, and presumably nickel — see link) and upright collars; the latter probably bore an employee number on the left-hand side, and individual metal initials — ‘S S C T’ — on the right-hand side. Caps were in a military style with a wide tensioned crown (top), and carried script-lettering grade badges, either Conductor or Motorman; these were presumably in nickel to match the buttons. In the late Edwardian era, the script-lettering grade badges were supplemented with a round nickel cap badge containing the municipal coat of arms (see below); this new badge eventually replaced the script-lettering grade badges completely around the time of the Great War.

In later years, conductors were issued with single-breasted tunics with five buttons, breast pockets, epaulettes and upright collars; motorman continued to wear 'lancer-style' tunics right through to closure. At some point the tunics were augmented with epaulettes (these were fastened with a button at the neck end, but were otherwise devoid of insignia), and the caps, though still military in style, later on had a soft top rather than a tensioned crown (top).

Perhaps unsurprisingly, given South Shields location on the North Sea, many photos show staff wearing double-breasted greatcoats with two rows of five buttons and high fold-over collars; like the tunics worn underneath, the collars bore an employee number on the left-hand side and individual metal initials — 'S S C T' — on the right-hand side. In later years, the greatcoats bore epaulettes.

In the early years, inspectors wore single-breasted jackets with hidden buttons (or a hook and eye affair), four slit pockets and upright collars (see below); the pockets and the jacket were edged in a finer material than the main body. The collars probably carried the designation Inspector on the bearer's right-hand side and system initials — 'S S C T' — on the left-hand side, in embroidered script lettering, though these cannot be made out with certainty on surviving photographs. Caps were initially in a kepi style with a pom pom on top, and carried the designation Inspector, probably in embroidered script lettering on a hat band. At some point, a switch was made to military-style caps with tensioned crowns (tops); these simply bore the standard, round municipal arms badge, seemingly without a grade badge. The jackets were also subtly changed in later years, bearing breast pockets with flap closures rather than slit pockets.

The Chief Inspector (see below) wore a very similar uniform to the inspectors, but with braided epaulettes. The collar insignia almost certainly reflected his grade, though this cannot be made out on the surviving photograph. Like the inspectors, his cap simply bore the standard South Shields Corporation Tramways cap badge.

In common with many tramway systems, conductresses were employed during the Great War to replace men lost to the armed services. Photographs of these ladies appear not to have survived, so details of their uniforms remain unknown.

In 1914, South Shields Corporation Tramways Traffic Department employed 1 Chief Inspector, 4 Inspectors, 39 Motormen, 51 Conductors and 9 Points Boys (see ‘The Tramways of Jarrow and South Shields’; George S Hearse, 1971).

For a history of South Shields' tramways, see: 'South Shields Transport' by J Carlson and N Mortson; The History Press (2007).

Images

Motormen and conductors
South Shields Corporation Tramways No 5 at West Park 1906
A conductor, motorman and an inspector pose with Tramcar No 5 (very probably brand new) at West Park in Stanhope Rd, with a service bound for Fowler St - photo taken in the summer 1906. With thanks to Malcolm Fraser.


South Shields Corporation Tramways Tram No 5 and crew
A blow-up of the above photo showing the tramwaymen, the crew in 'lancer-style' tunics with military-style caps, and the inspector in a single-breasted jacket with a kepi-style cap topped by a pom pom. The conductor's and motorman's caps bear script-lettering grade badges.


South Shields Corporation Tramways cap badges
Standard script-lettering cap badges of the type used by South Shields from the start of electric services in 1906 up until around the time of the Great War — nickel. Author's Collection.


South Shields Corporation Tramways Tram No 7 at Tyne Dock in 1906
Tramcar No 7 captured at Slake Terrace, Tyne Dock on the opening day of that route — 23rd June 1906. With thanks to Malcolm Fraser.


South Shields Corporation Tramways tram No 7 and crew
A blow-up of the above photo showing the inspector, in kepi-style cap with a pom pom and the motorman with a military-style cap.


South Shields Corporation Tramways Tram No 23
The crew of Tramcar No 23 pose for the cameraman, whose flash has been reflected by the dash — although the photo is undated, the name of the manager on the tramcar rocker panel — L E Harvey — dates it to between 1908 and 1912. Photo courtesy of the Stephen Howarth Collection.


South Shields Corporation Tramways tram No 23 and crew
A blow up of the above photo showing the motorman, who is clearly prepared for Arctic conditions, and his conductor. The latter is wearing a round badge above his script-lettering grade badge, almost certainly of the pattern depicted below.


South Shields Corporation Tramways cap badge
South Shields Corporation Tramways cap badge — nickel. This was worn from the late Edwardian era right through to closure in 1946. Author's Collection.


South Shields Corporation Tramways staff photo
Members of staff photographed with one of the new Brush front exit tramcars (Nos 41 to 45) at Dean Road Depot in 1921. At least two of the individuals are wearing the round cap badges but without script-lettering grade badges, which appear to have been dispensed with by the end of the Great War. With thanks to Malcolm Fraser.


South Shields Corporation Tramways Points Boy
A South Shields Corporation Tramways points boy, points iron in hand — photo undated, but probably taken around 1930. The 'S S C T' collar insignia are easily made out. With thanks to Malcolm Fraser.


South Shields Corporation Tramways Tram No 19 and crew
Motorman Jimmy Edwardson and conductor Frederick Boad pose with Tramcar No 19 at Slake Terrace in 1931, the latter in single-breasted jacket with upright collars and epaulettes. With thanks to Malcolm Fraser.


South Shields Corporation Tramways Tram No 24
Tramcar No 24 and motorman — photo undated, but probably taken in the 1930s. Photo courtesy of the Stephen Howarth Collection.



South Shields Corporation Tramways staff photo
The South Shields General Manager, pictured with nine long-service employees in front of Tramcar No 13 at Dean Road Depot in 1931. From left to right, back row: P McCardle (Motorman), W Allen (Motorman), R Burford (Inspector), H Wilson (Inspector), Atkinson (Motorman); seated, W Hails (Storekeeper), W A Huntley (Chief Inspector), J Austin Baker (General Manager), J Wilson (Cashier), J Bovill (Office Caretaker). Seven of the ten individuals depicted are wearing the round municipal cap badge. With thanks to Malcolm Fraser.


South Shields Corporation Tramways tram drive P McCardle 1931
A blow-up of the above photo showing Motorman P McCardle.


Senior staff
South Shields Corporation Tramways Inspector 1906
A blow-up of the photograph of Tramcar No 5 above taken in 1906, showing the inspector in his smart kepi-style cap topped off with a pom pom; the latter carries a script-lettering grade badge - Inspector - on a hat band. His left-hand collar would appear to bear embroidered 'S S C T' initials, and the right-hand side Inspector. With thanks to Malcolm Fraser.


SST-People-0890-MX_MF INSPS
A blow-up of the 1931 long service photo above showing Inspectors Burford and Wilson. The caps do not appear to carry their grade, bearing only the standard South Shields cap badge.


South Shields Corporation Tramways cap badge
South Shields Corporation Tramways cap badge — gilt. It is possible, but by no means certain, that this was the material used for senior staff. Author's Collection.


South Shields Corporation Tramways Chief Inspector Huntley
Another blow-up of the 1931 long service photo above, this time showing Chief Inspector W A Huntley. Like the inspectors above, his cap only bears the standard cap badge. The jacket epaulettes are clearly braided.