South Shields Corporation Tramways

Summary
Early photos show that crews were issued with double-breasted, crossover style tunics with two rows of five buttons (presumably nickel - see link), epaulettes (with button fastening) and upright collars. The latter appear to have carried a small shield device badge on the left-hand side and individual metal initials - ‘S S C T’ on the right-hand side. Caps were in the military style and carried script-lettering cap badges, either ‘Conductor’ or ‘Motorman’; these were presumably in nickel to match the buttons. In the late Edwardian era, the script-lettering cap 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, staff were issued with single-breasted tunics with five buttons, breast pockets, epaulettes and upright collars; the change was however by no means universal, as photos suggest that many continued to wear the double-breasted tunics. Perhaps unsurprisingly, given South Shields North Sea coastal location, many photos show staff wearing double-breasted overcoats with two rows of five buttons and high fold-over collars. The latter, like the tunics, appear to have carried a small municipal badge on the left-hand side and individual metal initials - 'S S C T' - on the right-hand side.

In the early years, Inspectors wore single-breasted jackets with hidden buttons (or a hook and eye affair), four pockets and upright collars (see below). The collars probably carried the designation ‘Inspector’ in embroidered script lettering, though this cannot be made out with certainty. Caps appear to have been in the same style as those worn by motormen and conductors, though kepis may have been worn by some individuals - these carried the designation ‘Inspector’, possibly in embroidered script lettering. Although inspectors' tunics remained largely the same until the 1930s, minor stylistic alterations were made, such as the addition of pockets with button fastenings. Around the 1930s, more recognisably modern uniforms were introduced; these were single-breasted with four buttons, four pockets (with button closures), lapels and epaulettes. A waist belt and buckle was also worn.

The Chief Inspector (see below) wore a very similar uniform to the inspectors, but with epaulettes. The collar and cap designation almost certainly reflected his grade, though this cannot be made out on the surviving photograph.

In common with many tramway systems, conductresses were employed during World War I to replace the men lost to the armed forces. Details of the uniforms worn by female tramway staff are unfortunately 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).

Images

Motormen and conductors
South Shields Corporation Tramways Tram No 5 and crew
Conductor, motorman and 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. All three men are wearing script-lettering cap badges. With thanks to Malcolm Fraser.


South Shields Corporation Tramways cap badges
Standard script-lettering cap badges of the type used by South Shields up until around the time of the Great War - nickel.


South Shields Corporation Tramways tram No 7 and crew
Inspector and motorman with Tramcar No 7 at Slake Terrace, Tyne Dock on the opening of that route - 23rd June 1906. The Inspector appears to be wearing a kepi-style cap, which may have been carried over from South Shields Tramways & Carriage Company days. With thanks to Malcolm Fraser.


South Shields Corporation Tramways tram No 23 and crew
A South Shields motorman, clearly prepared for Arctic conditions, with his conductor alongside Tramcar No 23. 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. The conductor appears to be wearing a round badge of some description above his script-lettering grade badge. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.


South Shields Corporation Tramways cap badge
Cap badge, probably of the pattern introduced in the late Edwardian era - nickel.


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. With thanks to Malcolm Fraser.


South Shields Corporation Tramways Points Boy
Tramways points boy - photo undated, but probably taken around 1930. Note the 'S S C T' collar badges. 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. With thanks to Malcolm Fraser.


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.


Senior staff
South Shields Corporation Tramways Inspector 1906
Blow-up of the photograph of Tramcar No 5 above taken in 1906, showing the inspector. With thanks to Malcolm Fraser.


South Shields Corporation Tramways Inspector
South Shields Corporation Tramways Inspector - photo undated, but probably taken around the mid 1920s. With thanks to Malcolm Fraser.


South Shields Corporation Tramways cap badge
Cap badge - gilt. Possibly the material used for senior staff. Author's collection.