Wallasey Corporation Tramways

Summary
Early photos indicate that staff were issued with smart double-breasted, 'lancer-style' tunics with upright collars and two rows of five buttons, probably brass; the latter carried the full system title, "Wallasey Council Tramways", around a 'WCT' monogram (see link). The upright collars carried individual system initials - 'W C T' - on the bearer's right-hand side, and an employee number on the left-hand side, both probably brass to match the buttons. Caps were in the kepi style with steeply inclined glossy peaks, and carried script-lettering cap badges, either 'Motorman' or 'Conductor', again most likely in brass.

Nickel cap badges have survived which take the form of an eight-pointed star around a monogram of the system initials - 'WCT'- above a scroll carrying the grade, either 'DRIVER' or 'CONDUCTOR'. This style of cap badge probably replaced the script-lettering variety relatively early on, but was itself superseded around 1910 when the council was granted 'Borough' status (later County Borough). The latter badge comprised the new corporation coat of arms, above scrolls containing the corporation motto ('Audemus Dum Cavemus') and the full system title: 'Wallasey Corporation Tramways' (see below). Although these badges exist in brass, nickel and chrome, the matching 'Corporation' buttons are only known in nickel (see link). The chrome cap badge is almost certainly a later chromium-plating by an employee or collector, as the lugs are also chromed; furthermore, this material did not gain widespread use for badges (see link) until after the demise of the Wallasey system.

The use of the old fashioned kepi-style caps appears to have persisted through to 1926 (certainly photos exist from 1923 that clearly show staff wearing these) when they were replaced by military style caps with tensioned crowns (tops); the cap badge remained unchanged. The change in cap appears to have been the sole change made to the general style of the uniform over the entire lifespan of the operation (1902 to 1933).

Photographs indicate that staff often wore long, double-breasted overcoats (with lapels) over their tunics. These appear to have carried the same insignia on the upper lapels as was carried on the tunics worn underneath.

Photos of inspectors are also rare, but enough have survived to give a good indication of the style of uniform worn up until at least 1910. Jackets were single-breasted with hidden buttons (or an hook and eye arrangement) and upright collars; the latter possibly carried the designation 'Inspector' in embroidered script lettering, though equally, this may have been system initials as surviving photos do not allow this to be discerned. The jacket and pockets were both edged in a finer material than the main body. Headgear comprised the same style of kepi worn by the tramcar staff, but carrying a script-lettering grade badge - 'Inspector' - whether this was embroidered or metal is currently unclear. System initials - 'W C T' - were carried above the grade badge, in individual letters, presumably brass. Following the change to the new star-shaped badges (in the mid-Edwardian era), inspectors wore this pattern of cap badge, but with 'Inspector' in the ribbon underneath. It seems likely that a switch was also made to the new corporation cap badge in 1910, and to military-style caps in 1926, however, photographic evidence that would either prove or disprove this has so far proved elusive.

Records from 1917 indicate that that there were 63 motormen (all male), 81 conductors (76 female), 3 ticket inspectors, 4 timekeepers, 1 depot inspector and 1 assistant depot inspector.

As with many tramway systems, women were employed in significant numbers during the Great War to make good the loss of male staff to the armed forces, though in the case of Wallasey, only as conductresses. Although precise details of the uniforms are unclear, long, single-breasted, tailored tunics were certainly worn, together with an Australian-style bush hat.

For a history of Wallasey's tramways, see: 'The Tramways of Birkenhead and Wallasey' by T B Maund and M Jenkins; LRTA (1987).

Images

Motormen and conductors
allasey Council Tramways staff photo 1902
An excellent staff photo taken at Seaview Rd depot in 1902. Photo courtesy of Rob Jones.


Wallasey Council Tramways staff photo 1902
A blow-up of the above photo showing two conductors and a motorman (in the middle). They are all wearing kepi-style caps with script-lettering grade badges, with the collars of their 'lancer-style' tunics bearing system initials - 'W C T' - on one side and an employee number on the other.


Wallasey Council Tramways cap badges brass
'Driver' and 'Conductor' script-lettering cap badges of the pattern used by Wallasey Council Tramways during the first few years of operation - brass. Author's collection.


Wallasey Corporation Tramways
A conductor and motorman pose for the camera with Tramcar No 48 near St Lukes Church on the 8th July 1910, the opening day of the Poulton route. This was the year that Wallasey became a borough, the word 'Council' on the tramcar rocker panel rapidly being replaced with the word 'Corporation'. This tram still carries the word 'Council', and the tramcar staff appear to have round cap badges, almost certainly the 8-pointed 'council' star below. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.


Wallasey Council Tramways cap badge
Wallasey Council Tramways 'Driver' cap badge, of the type worn from the mid-Edwardian era to around 1910 - nickel. Author's collection


Wallasey Council Tramways conductor cap badge
Wallasey Council Tramways 'Conductor' cap badge, of the type worn from the mid-Edwardian era to around 1910 - nickel. Author's collection.


Wallasey Corporation Tramways tram 51 conductor and motorman
Conductor and motorman pose on the platform of Tramcar No 51, possibly in the neighbourhood of Seacombe - photo undated, but probably taken around 1913 when route letters were first introduced. Photo courtesy of Barry Ijewsky.


Wallasey - tram conductor Wiliam Henry Davis
Blow up of the above photo showing the conductor and motorman. The conductor is William Henry Davis, who was born in County Fermanagh in 1879, later tried his luck in America (in 1904), returned to Ireland and eventually moved to Wallasey. He started on the trams around 1908 as a conductor, moving onto driving, and later transferring to the council's refuse department, finally ending his days in New Brighton in 1951. Thanks to his grandson, Barry Ijewsky, for this information. Note the continued use of kepi-style caps, which by this time (circa 1913), were distinctly old fashioned. The later 'corporation' cap badge, and the collar insignia are clearly seen.


Cap badge - nickel
Wallasey Corporation Tramways cap badge, of the type worn from around 1910 to closure - brass. Author's collection.


Wallasey Corporation Tramways
Wallasey Corporation Tramways cap badge, of the type worn from around 1910 to closure - nickel. Author's collection.


Wallasey Corporation Tramways
Wallasey Corporation Tramways cap badge, - chrome (probably chromium plated by a collector as the lugs are chromed as well). Author's collection.


Wallasey Corporation Tramways kepi cap and cap badge
Wallasey Corporation Tramways kepi style cap with later period cap badge. This combination would have been worn between around 1910 and 1926. Photo courtesy of Rob Jones.


Wallasey Corporation Tramways Tram driver 'E T Davies
Motorman Edwin Thomas Davies, who worked on the tramway from 1902 until 1933, pictured in military-style cap, so sometime after 1926. Photo courtesy of Rob Jones.


Wallasey Corporation Tramways
Motorman at the controls of Tramcar No 40 in Seacombe in the summer of 1932. Note the new military-style cap, but with the tunic unchanged, stylistically, from the opening day. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with particular thanks to David Voice.


Senior staff
Wallsaey Council Tramways tram inspector 1902
A blow-up of the 1902 depot photo above showing an inspector. He appears to have a script-lettering grade badge - 'Inspector' - on his cap, above which are system initials (probably), though whether metal or embroidered is impossible to say.


Wallasey Council Tramways Tram inspector 1910
WCT inspector pictured in 1910 (from the photograph of No 48 above, taken on the opening day of the Poulton route). The kepi-style cap almost certainly bears the same pattern of star-shaped badge shown below. Photo courtesy of Rob Jones.


Wallasey Council Tramways inspector cap badge
Wallasey Council Tramways 'Inspector' cap badge, of the type worn from the mid-Edwardian era to around 1910 - nickel. With thanks to Dave and Helen Lewis.